Welfare and production of layers in smallholder poultry farmers in Kabete sub-county, Kenya.
Poultry production is receiving a lot of attention because of increased demand for food, reduced land size and need for employment creation. To increase production of poultry products there is a need to intensify production systems. Such intensification may compromise the welfare of the layers. This study had three objectives namely: to assess the knowledge and practices of small scale farmers towards welfare of layers; to determine the welfare status of layers in smallholder farms; and to assess the influence of poultry welfare on production. Data was collected from three wards of Kabete Sub-county involving of 135 randomly selected farmers keeping laying hens. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect information on knowledge and practices of farmers on welfare of layers, feeding, housing, health, behaviour and farm production characteristics. Measurements were taken to determine stocking densities, feeding, watering, perching and nesting spaces, house temperatures and litter depth. Observations were made to assess house ammonia level, foot pad dermatitis and litter quality. In each of the wards a focus group discussion of farmers were held. Focus group discussion was also held in extension agents. About 60% of the farmers were aware of animal welfare. Those with knowledge on poultry welfare were 59.3, 63.6% and 53.9 in Muguga, Nyathuna and Kabete, respectively. Feed millers (28.5±2.8%), the media (25.8±9.9%) and state extension agents (15±9.7%) were the main sources of information on animal welfare. More farmers with formal education (92.8%) knew about poultry welfare than those without (6.2%). All farmers vaccinated their birds against New Castle disease and Gumboro, however only 35 and 38% of them vaccinated against fowl pox and fowl typhoid