Mr Tonderai Bungu (46) a Rusenverde villager within Odzi District has been in the broiler farming business for five years. However, lack of information around poultry farming and management had been hampering progress in his poultry venture.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
For years, he had been using unorthodox means of medicating and treating his birds, a move he says would affect output of his chickens and compromise quality if birds.
“This is my fifth year rearing chickens but so far it has been a year doing this training. Back then, I had this belief that a broiler won’t survive without medication. We would mix the stress pack and SB3 to prevent diseases in broilers. So the challenge we observed was that when we tried to administer the medication, the chickens would not respond to the medication. This was due to the fact that we would have overdosed from the onset,” he says.
Bungu was trained under the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Farmer Field School trainings. He now knows it is the simple things that can save the poultry business, like a blanket and a cardboard box.
Currently, we are happy we can raise the chickens with just the stresspack only. We now know poor hygiene induces sickness in chickens. The other cause for disease in chickens is poor temperature which can be solved by using small coal braziers or flue pipes. Then there is this other technique we use where upon the arrival of the day old chicks, you cover the boxes they come in with a blanket at night.”
Mr Bungu shed light on the use of ARVs in chickens within their district.
“Then there is this issue of ARVs. We have heard from farmers who administered that. What happens is that the poultry mortality rate between one who administers ARV and the other who does not is different. Chickens pumped with ARVs don’t fall sick and they won’t be given any other medication as they said. These people who administered ARVs on their chickens have stopped after learning it is illegal. I have never gone the ARV route but my problem was poor timing in medication administration,” he said.
People hardly notice nor do they know the normal red meat color of a slaughtered chicken. Before, Bungu used to be as impatient for money slaughtering chickens before the withdrawal period lapsed.
“We discovered that when we slaughtered the chickens, they had this strange red colour we didn’t know the medication was still in the chicken’s system. This was caused we didn’t wait for the withdrawal period to pass,” he said.
Knowledgeable through this capacitation Mr Bungu says, “Nowadays, when the chicken is due for slaughter when we had given it medication, we wait another week. Otherwise, we now administer medication up till they are four weeks old and no further than that so that there won’t be any antimicrobial residues within the chickens.”
According to Odzi District Veterinary Ms Cathrine Sakupwanya, steroids were being used resulting in ballooned stout looking broilers which are unhealthy and unfit for human consumption.
“Farmers are injecting steroids in chickens so that they grow faster. They were complaining that their counterparts were more competitive on the market,” she said.
“These cases are rampant in Manicaland as such the veterinary services always help farmers by prescribing the right doses. We implore farmers to use drugs the right way.”
Refurbished under Fleming Fund are some vet department laboratories swamped with AMR samples of chickens. In Bulawayo, Vet Department Laboratory Techologist said they see a lot of chicken samples coming in which are not responsive to some antimicrobials.
“It might be a myth but there is an element of truth. There is no smoke without fire. These chicken farmers use cotrimoxazole a sulphur drug. As a sulphur drug it is almost used as a last line of defence to prevent bacteria infection,” he said.
FAO Livestock Development Officer speaking on behalf of Patrice Talla, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa and FAO Representative to Zimbabwe said, “I would like to reiterate FAO’s commitment in continuing providing technical support to the government of Zimbabwe and its various agencies. I take this opportunity to encourage you to emphasize the application of the One Health approach and finding more innovative approaches towards mobilizing resources for financing AMR interventions, sustain and scale-up the results achieved so far.”
The global and regional burden according to WHO Africa Regional Director Dr Matshidiso Moeti is alarming, but it is sub-Saharan African countries that bear the heaviest burden of resistant bacterial infections.
“In 2019, 4.95 million deaths globally were attributed to drug-resistant bacterial infections, with 1.27 million directly related to AMR – more than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.
“Compared to other regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest AMR-associated death rates, at 99 deaths per 100 0001 population, far exceeding previous global projections of 700 000 annual deaths from AMR,” she said.
Training farmers on proper management of poultry for better yields
Mrs Dorothy Mutangabende (65), beams with radiative joy whenever she shares a story about her poultry project.
Her homestead houses the Goodhope Village Famers Field School poultry project in Odzi District. The project was initiated by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) where they capacitated farmers in proper antimicrobial use in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the ministries of health and agriculture under the One Health banner.
In most cases, people perish due to lack of knowledge, and for most poultry famers around Zimbabwe who have not been capacitated by the FAO and Zimbabwe government around proper use of Antimicrobials in livestock farming, the risk development and spread of AMR is high.
Mrs Mutangabende is delighted to be one of the household poultry famers to have been capacitated under the Famers Field School poultry project.
“I learned a lot from this project.Before this farmers’ school, most of my chickens died. There were times I would sell the underweight chickens. Upon learning, I know now that when it is winter the chickens need warmth. We were taught to put hot water in bot,tles, brazier with coals in the fowl run. So with the proper managenent of my chickens health, I am now able to send my children and grandchildren to school. I am now able to pay my workers,” she said. “Before this project, things were tough but now, we are doing well. This is our fifth batch and we keep on ordering more chickens to grow and we sell them. More are coming.”
Without knowledge, Mrs Mutangabende barely consulted Veterinary Department workers which saw them struggling to sell their chickens which were underweight.
“Before, the chickens were so underweight averaging less than 2KGs and when selling, it was tough because customers would avoid the chickens. When customers shunned our chickens we would end up consuming them. Right now, things are going well. We would also administer medications without consulting the veterinaries and would be shocked of the underweight. This was due to lack of knowledge. Thankfully, we were capacitated and things are moving smoothly,” said Mrs Mutangabende.
For broiler chickens’ sustenance, hygiene is gold as Mrs Mutangabende grasped through the training.
“Before putting the chicks in the fowl run, we start by sanitising the place through scrubbing and spraying. When the chicks arrive, we then place them in a clean environment,” she said.