The poultry sector accounts for about 58.2% of total livestock production in Nigeria. It also offers profitable returns on investments due to its short gestation period. Poultry is the commonest source of animal protein in the country, this means it is consumed by most Nigerians in both rural and urban households. The poultry sector is also the most commercialized of all Nigeria’s agricultural products. It is in fact, one of the highest investments in agriculture with a net worth of about N250 billion. This sector contributes to about 9-10% of agricultural GDP which makes it essential to the economy of Nigeria.
In spite of the importance and huge prospects of poultry in Nigeria, poultry production faces huge challenges that hinder maximization of profits and accounts for low turnout in the industry.
Problems of Poultry Production in Nigeria
Read on below:
Disease outbreak and Parasites
This remains one of the major threats to increased poultry production in Nigeria. The major poultry diseases in Nigeria are:
- Newcastle disease
- Avian Influenza and Avian pox
- Infectious Bursal Disease
- Worm infestation
A way disease is spread easily is during transportation of birds and the use of contaminated equipment. For example, if a farmer has just put dead birds in a vehicle and then puts feed or live chickens in the same vehicle, some parasites and disease might spread to the live chickens.
These poultry diseases reduce the productivity of birds which results in low turnouts of meat, milk, or eggs. This in turn negatively affects the economy in terms of output declines, rise in prices, and fall in profits.
Poultry disease management is a crucial step in curtailing poultry diseases and outbreaks in Nigeria. This includes the application of standard biosecurity measures in order to protect poultry birds from transmitting infectious diseases from one to the other. Biosecurity measures also focus on improving the health status of birds so as to prevent the introduction of new diseases. This is achieved by good hygiene and cleanliness as well as containment of diseases.
Many Nigerians do have confidence in the safety and hygienic status of locally bred poultry. Ministries and agencies responsible for poultry farming in Nigeria need to ensure the safety of poultry products for human consumption. When the masses know that these agencies enforce safety policies on farmers, there will be more trust and Nigerians will consume more poultry.
Low capital base
Although the poultry business is one that does not require huge capital, the little capital it requires needs to be available at the right time. The availability of capital contributes to the success of the poultry business. Capital is needed to expand a farm and also equip a farm, no matter how small the farm is. The interest charged on loans in banks discourages most poultry farmers in Nigeria from getting a loan. The agricultural sector, especially the poultry section requires assistance from the government via funding and subsidies. This will help farmers and increase productivity and profits in the poultry sector.
Lack of professional help and insight
Many Nigerian poultry farmers start the business and rear birds without seeking professional help such as from consultants and veterinary doctors. Often times, many fall victims of disease outbreaks which could have been prevented or do not know how to control an outbreak. Some also go into poultry farming with information from unauthorized sources. All these contribute to the problems of poultry farming in Nigeria.
Purchase of poorly bred birds
Many poultry farmers in Nigeria have run at a loss when they buy birds from the wrong source. Poultry farmers need to know that they are not to buy birds from just any company. Some companies do not take adequate precautions in protecting their birds, some of these birds can have been exposed to diseases. When the farmer purchases this kind of bird, he will spend a lot on drugs and might even lose birds. Farmers need to make proper research so as to know the companies to get the right birds from. Farmers should form associations and groups where they can discuss this kind of issues so as to provide help and solutions for one another.
Feed related problem
Feeding related problem is another problem facing the poultry business in Nigeria.
Feeding is very crucial to the growth of birds. Birds need to be given a balanced diet for them to grow well. Some feed producers in Nigeria mix complete feeds with cheaper grains which then dilutes the levels of nutrients the chickens get. Nutrient deficiencies can negatively affect the growth of the birds and their level of production. The quality of eggs produced is also affected by the feed they eat. For example, the presence or amount of vitamin D, calcium, and other minerals in the feed affect the quality of eggshell while the pigment in the feed determines the colour of the egg yolk. The level of protein and fatty acid in the feed is important in order to achieve maximum egg size in production.
Unavailability of drugs and counterfeit drugs
This has always posed a challenge to poultry farmers in Nigeria. The unavailability of needed drugs in the market and the low quality of those available.
When some of these drugs keep being administered, the birds build resistance to its effect and the drugs become ineffective.
Poultry farming is one that can be operated from anywhere in Nigeria. However, birds react to weather conditions. For example, some health issues can arise when the weather is too hot or cold for the birds. The farmer only needs to look out for a decrease in output, change in the poo of birds, etc and consult veterinary doctors immediately for proper prescription of drugs before the disease spreads.
Poor management in poultry farms
Poultry birds need to be bred in a proper and clean environment to ensure maximum growth. Most farms in Nigeria do not adhere to hygienic standards, this affects the output of birds. It could also negatively affect the general masses who consume birds bred in unhygienic environments. Maintaining proper hygiene for birds which includes cleaning their house, washing their drinkers and feeders thoroughly are ways to ensure proper hygiene on poultry farms.