Rodents are one of the leading challenges poultry farmers are facing. So let us share with you a post from the website newvision.co.ug discussing the ways to keep them away.
Almost every poultry farmer mentions rodents as a threat to their poultry units.
“They do not only eat the feeds but they also carry diseases that affect chicken,” says Kironde Lule, a poultry farmer near Bombo. Kironde Lule keeps thousands of chicken at his farm. Celia Kansiime, owner of Mish farm in Kiwenda, also complains about the same.
Rodents like poultry houses for three different reasons. They provide an almost unlimited supply of food, water and in many cases hiding places in which they nest their young ones.
According to Celia Kansiime, Best farmer 2016, rodents move from nearby bushes and find their way into poultry houses through several ways. They can enter a hole large enough to pass their head through, as small as a quarter-inch for mice or a half-inch for rats. Once inside the house, they can easily dig into the loose, dry poultry litter, under caked litter, into dirt floors, inside walls, and into electricity insulation in the walls and the roof.
“And to see them, you must be very keen because they know you are coming before you open the house. But all this time, they are eating away your chicken feeds and contaminating them with diseases and dirt,” Henry Lugolobi, owner of Sight farm, Namulonge says.
Of course, the most obvious problem with rodents is the feed they consume and contaminate. All rodents will eat poultry feed, and they contaminate and ruin much more than they eat. They are also known to carry other pests like fleas that may gradually attack the chicken too. When fleas attack chicken, they affect its growth because they suck blood from it.
A mature rat eats around 40grams per day. If there are 20 rats in the house, then those are 800grams per day or around 24kgs per month. In actual money, at a cost of sh1, 200 per kilogram, this is sh30,000 lost per month. Of course the cost of the losses increases with the rising number of rats. Given the small profit margin got from chicken, certainly that is big money lost.
How we keep them at bay
“We cannot use poison because of we do it, then some of the chicken may eat on the same feeds and they die,” Celia says. Using traps also proves not effective because again, they may trap some of the chicken. The best way therefore is to prevent them from entering the houses.
At Kironde Lule`s farm and at Nkondo poultry farm, which is located at Nkondo near Bombo, the chicken houses were constructed with what are termed as “rodents bars.” These are near the basement of the structures.
They are flat iron sheets constructed within the walls, at the end of the basement. They run/skirt around the entire building.
“When the rodents emerge from the bushes to try and enter the house by climbing the walls, they cannot skirt over the iron sheet so they go back,” one of the managers at Nkondo farm says.
But of course the rodents are not sitting down either. When Nkondo poultry farm started this innovation, the rodents devised new ways of entering the chicken houses. They used to climb electric poles, use the ‘solid wire’ that connected power from the pole to the chicken house before finding their way into the house.
“That is why we put simple barriers on the wires. These barriers do not only stop the rodents from accessing the chicken houses, but also stop them from moving from one structure to another,” one of the managers at Nkondo farm explained.
The iron sheet innovation is easy to adopt by every farmer. Depending on the sizes of the poultry houses, 1 10feet iron sheet, cut into 4 pieces can cover an area of 40feet of a building. An iron sheet costs around sh32,000.
In addition to these buriers, the walls of the chicken houses should be extra smooth. This is because rodents find it difficult to climb over smooth surfaces.