Small-scale hatcheries are recent additions to the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) efforts to modernize and improve the way smallholder poultry keepers in Ethiopia produce chicks for the market.
The mini-hatcheries were meant to solve the problems faced by both small-scale commercial poultry producers, who need the supply of day-old chicks of exotic breeds, and rural chicken producers. Supply of day-old chicks by the large-scale commercial chick producers have been insufficient. The brooding characteristics of local chicken breeds is one of the challenges for increasing egg production. The broody cycle can be interrupted by both traditional methods and injection of estrogens. However, the hen’s role of hatching eggs needed to be replaced by hatchery technologies.
The Rahwa poultry association is owned and run by eight women in Enticho town in Tigray region. Established in 2013, the association main goal is marketing day-old chicks. The members have an 800-egg capacity incubator that has been infrequently used over the last three years due to large power requirements and frequent electricity outages.
Supported by LIVES and the regional research system in Aksum, the women group members decided to test a LIVES-supplied mini incubator which has a capacity of hatching 42 eggs in one round. The group compared the new hatchery with their old one. The old incubator was performing poorly with egg hatchability often not exceeding 55% (average 48%). When the mini-hatchery was used at an altitude of 2020 metres, the hatchability increased to 83%, producing 25 chicks. This has almost doubled the size of eggs that can be set using hens.
By Bahlibi Weldegebrial, Bruh Weldemariam, Haile Tilahun, Yayneshet Tesfay, and Solomon Gizaw.