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    Sunday, 5 June 2016

    Former Chikomba DA in unique road-runner project





    MIRIAM MANGWAYA
    CHIVHU BUREAU

    CHIKOMBA
    – The farm is flocking with birds, hundreds of them.
    The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Paddy Zhanda described the poultry venture as a unique one that makes a good case study for poultry farmers.
    Former Chikomba District Administrator, Martin Maturure's 384/4 Farm in Lancashire, ......km out of Chivhu town has 800 road runners and more than 200 other birds that include ducks and turkeys.
    Maturure supplies meat and eggs to Harare and is making a living from the project.
    "Such type of poultry farming requires little labour, a bit of training and a small capital base. Besides providing good protein to the family, farmers can earn a living through selling the produce because the demand for traditional chicken is rising," said Zhanda after his recent tour of the fowl project.
    "I had initially decided to start the project with 55 hens but then this is not what I envisaged. I then decided to try 1 500 chicks.
    "Due to lack of technical know-how I ran into problems and lost some and I then destocked to maintain a manageable number," said Maturure.
    Maturure keeps different types of the improved indigenous chickens which include the leghorn, Roads island the Potchefstroomkoekoek which is the major variety at his farm.
    He gets between seven and 15 crates of eggs every day depending on the prevailing weather conditions. He keeps roosters and hens with a ratio of 1:15. Each hen lays an average of 200 eggs per year.
    He says that it's more profitable to sell eggs which he supplies for incubation to Harare, than chicken.
    He keeps the chicken in the most natural way. Although the chickens are kept in a fence, they are still free rangers because the fenced area is so big such that they can roam around freely, pecking and foraging, looking for their own food.
    The fence also helps to protect the birds from being attacked by predators such as snakes. He has also planted the garden rue, a snake repellent plant, right round the mash wire.
    For the best quality meat and to maximise egg production, Maturure says he provides his birds with the recommended balanced diet all the time.
    Although the birds find food on their own, he gives them supplementary feeding of the locally available cereals such as rapoko, millet, sorghum, maize and soya beans which are rich in carbohydrates.
    Chicken waste is decomposed to create maggots, that can be fed to the chicken and these have high protein content.
    He also practises hydro phoenix, a scientific process of germinating the seeds before feeding the chickens. Germinating the seeds first improves the protein content.
    Maturure is also growing pigeon, peas, a perennial legume that is ideal for chicken supplementary feeding. He said it is a drought resistant crop that can be grown all year therefore, even during the drought periods, a farmer can keep a big flock, using the pigeon peas as a feed.
    The birds also feed on green-leaf vegetables grown in the garden. Vegetables provide vitamins to the birds.
    From time to time, he may also include the commercial chicken feeds. Growing of the aloe plant near the fowl run has also helped him to minimise the need of buying antibiotics.
    "Aloe, popularly known as gavakava in Shona, is a very good antibiotic for domestic birds. However, there are some diseases such as new castle, coryza among others that need proper vaccine from the veterinary services.
    Paul Bhasikiti, an agricultural extension supervisor, said the community was benefiting since Maturure was ready to assist local farmers.
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