The African Chicken Genetic Gains Program (ACGG) is part of the Africa-wide collaboration led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and is being implemented in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania. In Nigeria, the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State is the partnering institution leading the implementation of this 5 year project (https://africacgg.net/). The vision of ACGG in Nigeria (ACGG-NG) is to transform smallholder chicken production into commercially viable enterprise with active private sector engagement that empowers rural women, increases income and nutrition of their families
Over 80% of Nigeria’s chicken production is within the smallholder poultry (SHP) system, held in small flocks of between 5 and 100 birds. Eighty-eight percent of respondent households in a 2015 survey, conducted by ACGG-NG, kept local breeds of chicken. While free-range local chickens are liked by Nigerians due to the firmness and flavour of their meat, the birds have low productivity in terms of meat and eggs. There is therefore an overarching desire by SHP producers for birds that grow bigger and lay more eggs.
Studies before ACGG-NG showed that the body weight of local cocks was 680g when raised within farmers’ backyard and 1,200g when raised under intensive management system. ACGG-NG recorded the body weights of the improved breeds raised within farmers’ backyards and raised under intensive management to be higher than the body weight of the local cocks by 245% and 247% (Sasso), 231% and 241% (Kuroiler), 248% and 216% (Noiler), 245% and 175% (FUNAAB Alpha), 162% and 141% (Shika Brown), and 169% and 110% (Fulani), respectively1,2.The dressing percentage of the carcasses were 69.3% (Noiler), 65.8% (FUNAAB Alpha), 64% (Sasso), 63.2% (Kuroiler), 61.6% (ShikaBrown) and 60.9% (Fulani), whereas that of the local cock is 49.3%. The crude protein contents were 21.3% (Noiler), 23.3% (Kuroiler), 23.6% (Sasso), 24.1% (FUNAAB Alpha), 24.1% (ShikaBrown), and 25.0% (Fulani). Fat content of the muscles of the improved breeds were: 1.5% (Noiler), 2.3% (ShikaBrown), 2.5% (Fulani), 2.6% (Kuroiler) and 2.8% (FUNAAB Alpha and Sasso) while the energy contents (in kcal/kg) were: 916 (Noiler), 1,074 (Fulani), 1,077 (Kuroiler), 1,078 (ShikaBrown), 1,104 (Sasso) and 1,169 (FUNAAB Alpha).3
Pre-ACGG report of the number of eggs laid each year by local hens was 30 and 80 when raised in the backyard and when raised intensively. The number of eggs laid by the hens of the improved breeds under these two management systems represent an increase of 190% and 240% (ShikaBrown), 117% and 238% (FUNAAB Alpha), 170% and 216% (Noiler), 120% and 159% (Kuroiler), 117% and 110% (Fulani), and a reduction of 23% and 6% (Sasso), respectively, compared with the local hens. The average egg weights within farmers’ backyard and when raised intensively were 35g and 38g for local chickens while those of the improved breeds were 56g and 55g (Sasso), 56g and 54g (Kuroiler), 53g and 56g (ShikaBrown), 53g and 49g (FUNAAB Alpha), 53g and 56g (Noiler) and 44g and 40g (Fulani), respectively1,2.
Applying the science of nutrition, the challenge of access to feed was addressed by ACGG-NG. Outcomes of scientific investigations into the nutritional contents of locally available feed resources in Nigeria were aggregated to form an ingredient library which was used in the development of a supplementary feed formulation app for the smallholder poultry sector4. The Smallholder Poultry Feed App is the first interactive, user friendly, feed formulation application developed specifically for SHP farmers. This application is available free of charge on Android, iOS and Windows stores, and also online as a web-based software (at www.acggng.com.ng). The innovation of thermostable Newcastle disease (ND) I-2 vaccine was deployed through village vaccinators (Field Officers) who were trained and acted under the supervision of a veterinary doctor and reduced the incidence of ND outbreak substantially. ACGG-NG demonstrated that a combination of vaccination and deworming decreased chicken mortality in farmers’ households in 2017 and 2018 by 50% compared with 2015.
The impact of the project on HH livelihoods and food security is evidenced by the significant increase in household nutrition and income, which was a result of the improved performance, and productivity of the introduced breeds. The proportion of households consuming eggs increased from the initial 54% in 2015 to 84% in 2019, while the number of eggs consumed/household/week increased from 1 to 3. The number of chickens consumed/household/month also increased from 1 to 2. HH monthly income from egg sales increased by 231% from N3,020 to N10,000, and when cocks were sold, it added N8,000 to N20,000 to the household income. Beyond the impact on nutrition and income, the project, through its innovation platforms, has also increased the capacity of farmers and empowered women towards initiating several business ventures. These innovation platforms have now been transformed into smallholder poultry cooperatives, registered with the local and state governments in the 5 project zones (Kwara, Imo, Rivers, Nasarawa and Kebbi states). At the national level, the cooperatives are affiliated with the Smallholder Poultry Forum (RC: 106425), a non-governmental organisation, established in 2018 by ACGG-NG. The overarching vision of the forum (www.spfnigeria.org) is the transformation of the smallholder poultry value chain in Nigeria into profitable businesses.
1Bamideleet al. 2019. On-station performance evaluation of improved tropically adapted chicken breeds for SHP systems in Nig..Proc. 44th Ann Conf. of the Nig. Soc. for Ani. Prod., March 17 -21, UNIABUJA, Abuja, pp 65-69.
2Hassan et al. 2018. Genetic Differences in Performance of Five Chicken Genotypes reared in Five Sub-National Zones in Nigeria. Proc. 43rd Ann Conf. of the Nig. Soc. for Ani. Prod, March 18 – 22, FUTO Owerri, pp 103-105.
3Sonaiya et al. 2018. Growth and Carcass Performance of Six Tropically Adapted Dual Purpose Chicken Breeds under Intensive Mgt. System. Proc. 43rd Ann Conf. of the Nig. Soc. for Ani. Prod, March 18 – 22, FUTO Owerri, pp 832-835.
4Oyewale O.A., Ojebiyi O.O., Adedeji F.A., Bamidele O., Sonaiya E.B. 2019. A smallholder poultry feed app for supplementary feeding: the development, application and utilization. Proc. 44th Ann Conf. of the Nig. Soc. for Ani. Prod., March 17 -21, UNIABUJA, Abuja,pp 461-463.