The National, Tuesday, May 17, 2011
By JANET PANDI
SMALLHOLDER broiler farmers now have the option of using local feeds to raise their birds.
This was made possible after the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) pre-released a broiler feeding system technology during the Agricultural Innovations Show and NARI 14th Anniversary Day on May 5.
The NARI broiler concentrate feeding technology was developed over eight years through projects supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
The projects included the “poultry feeding systems” and “improving profitability of village broiler chicken production”.
The latter project was to evaluate broiler production and profitability on village broiler farms using feeding options that incorporated the use of local feed resources.
The viability of broiler production in Papua New Guinea had been threatened by rising costs of commercial diets because most of the ingredients were imported and expensive.
Coastal regions of PNG contributed 60% of broiler production while the remaining 40% was from the highlands.
The ACIAR-funded project examined methods of reducing the cost of broiler production in PNG.
Smallholder broiler production had been operating independently from the frozen chicken market and had thrived due to increasing demand for live bird meat throughout PNG. However, this sector faced the challenge due to the ever-increasing retail prices of commercial broiler feeds.
The project had evaluated various locally available resources to use as feeding options to assist smallholder broiler growers. A lower cost-feeding option was investigated involving two formulated concentrates – the high energy concentrate (HEC) and the low energy concentrate (LEC) – which were bulked up with cassava or sweet potato respectively as finishing feed for broilers.
The concentrate feed could replace the broiler finisher pellet leading to a reduction of about 30% in broiler production costs.
This feeding option was tested with selected farmers to ensure birds were able to reach market weight between five and six weeks on diets comprising 50% sweet potato mixed with 50% low energy concentrate and 50% cassava mixed with 50% high energy concentrate on dry weight basis.
The village farm trial results were encouraging and only small differences in growth of birds were observed.
Farm trials were carried out by the Lutheran Development Services in Morobe; Christian Leaders Training College in Banz, Western Highlands; and Ok Tedi Mining in Western.
It is important to note that LEC is always mixed with sweet potato and HEC is always mixed with cassava.
It is useful also to note that only one concentrate, mixed with the appropriate energy supplement, is used in a production period.
Using this feeding option, a farmer trying to look after a box of day chicks (52) would require two bags of 40kg commercial starter, 180kg of sweet potato or cassava and 60kg of NARI broiler concentrate.
Commercial broiler starter crumble must be fed to chicks from day one to day 21. The NARI broiler concentrate, mixed with mashed sweet potato or cassava, can be fed from day 22 up to day 42 to get the market weight. The feed must be administered with constant supply of clean water daily.
Other requirements such as housing and environment, litter quality, brooding practices, correct diet mixing, ventilation and availability of water and feed at all times were also important when raising broilers. This would provide an environment for the bird to achieve its optimum performance in growth, uniformity, feed efficiency and carcass yield while ensuring its health and welfare were not compromised.
NARI had pre-released the technology after a series of on-farm trials both in the lowlands and highlands which monitored performance of broilers, cost of inputs and sale price to assess the acceptability and profitability of this feeding option.
The technology was received on behalf of smallholder growers in the country by Jan Dumu and her husband Lokowa Dumu from Tambul, Western Highlands.
Jan had been using this feeding option as part of the farmer trials and had raised about eight batches already. To her, this feeding option had helped a lot in reducing input costs.
Sweet potato (kaukau) and cassava, which are in abundance in the highlands and lowlands respectively, had been recommended as the main staples to be used with their concentrates as a least cost option of finishing broiler chickens when using this feeding option.
For information on this pre-released technology, contact the livestock research coordinator, Dr Workneh Ayalew, on telephone 4751066 or by email <[email protected]>. The author can be contacted on telephone 5423443 or 2755131 or email <[email protected]>