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New Vaccine for Indigenous Kenyan Poultry

By Geoffrey Kamadi
Freelance Writer - Kenya
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It is estimated that out of 32 million total poultry population in Kenya.
live thermostable avirulent 1-2 ND

Indigenous Kenyan poultry farmers can now breathe a sigh of relief with the introduction of a new vaccine into the market. Known as the live thermostable avirulent 1-2 ND, it is said to protect up to 62 per cent of vaccinated indigenous chickens.

It was launched recently at a ceremony presided over by the minister for Livestock Development, Dr. Mohammed Kuti, at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) headquarters in Nairobi.

Speaking to OnIslam.net during the launch, the minister expressed his optimism that the new vaccine will boost poultry production, not only in Kenya but the region.

“My ministry will facilitate the registration and production of this vaccine so that it is available to poultry keepers, not only in arid areas but also in other areas countrywide and in the region,” Kuti told OnIslam.net.

The price of this vaccine is approximately 2 Kenya Shillings (US$0.02).

It is estimated that out of 32 million total poultry population in Kenya, 26 million are indigenous. This is a huge number comprising over 80 per cent of the total poultry population in the country.

Indigenous farmers practice what is known as extensive free range system. This is a method where the chicken is left to feed in the field. In Kenya this system is widely practiced, especially with indigenous poultry farmers in the rural areas.

However, this system does not incorporate any feed supplementation since it does not pay attention to what the chicken feeds on. Production levels have therefore remained well below their full potential.

“Such a system is perceived to be profitable based on the low levels of inputs. However, productivity under free range system is constrained by frequent incidences of the Newcastle disease virus,” Dr. Ephraim Mukisira, the director at KARI, told OnIslam.net during the launch of the new vaccine.

Newcastle is a serious viral disease in chicken. It is estimated that over 80 per cent of all unvaccinated chicken are lost to the disease.

Comparative Advantage

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Many farmers in Kenya are increasingly venturing into agribusiness by shifting their attention away from subsistence farming.

The unveiling of the vaccine is a culmination of a study that has been ongoing under field conditions in free ranging indigenous chicken in the country.

These studies were conducted in the districts of Busia, Nyandarua,  Mwea and Mwingi in Kenya.

According to the study, less than five per cent of indigenous chicken in these districts had protective antibodies against Newcastle virus before vaccination.

However, three weeks after vaccination with a single dose of the 1-2 ND vaccine, protection levels shot up to 62 percent.

“This response to vaccination clearly showed that the administration of the 1-2 ND vaccine through eye droplets is an effective way of controlling Newcastle disease in free ranging indigenous chicken,” said Mukisira.

The introduction of the new vaccine into the market does not mean that a vaccine for chicken has been lacking.

It is its comparative advantage over conventional vaccines that make the 1-2 ND vaccine a notable development.

Such chicken vaccines as LaSota B1, F and V4-HR are commercially available. On other hand, these types have some disadvantages.

For one, they have been shown to be unsuitable when used in arid and semi-arid conditions, especially since they require refrigeration during transportation and storage to be effective.

This renders vaccination programs difficult and inefficient to support. Three-quarters of land in Kenya is classified as either arid or semi-arid which support 25 per cent of the country’s population.

The 1-2 ND Newcastle disease vaccine has been developed for local and regional production.

Agriculture analysts say that poultry farming could play a much bigger role in helping these farmers increase their income.

“Its suitability in indigenous chicken is considered better due to its thermal tolerance and safety. It is spread between chicken through contact while provoking protection,” said Mukisira.

Many farmers in Kenya are increasingly venturing into agribusiness by shifting their attention away from subsistence farming.

Besides providing food for their consumption, agriculture as a business provides better than average opportunity to increase income. This is especially true for smallholder farmers.

However, this has been hampered by unpredictable weather conditions that have negatively impacted on farm yields.

Agriculture analysts say that poultry farming could play a much bigger role in helping these farmers increase their income. Indeed, the demand for indigenous chicken products in Kenya outstrips supply.

“This will create opportunities or incentives for farmers to increase production,” said Mukisira.

Related Links:
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White Revolution to Change Kenyan Agriculture
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Geoffrey Kamadi is a freelance journalist based in Kenya. He can be reached by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

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