Sharpening the next generation
Nearly all farms in Timor-Leste have a few chickens. Chickens are ideal for farming families to supply a source of protein from eggs and meat as well as income from sales of chickens and eggs. The two main issues currently facing farmers with chickens is predation and New Castles Disease. Our guide to raising chickens in Timor-Leste is packed with great information and practical hints to help farmers raise chickens better!
A hen can lay on average 3 clutches of 10 eggs each. Only 3 out of the 30 eggs will result in mature chickens. Most of the chickens will die from predation and climate stress. That is, there are a lot of hungry dogs, cats, snakes and rats that will eat chickens and eggs.
Newcastle's disease occurs throughout Asia including Timor-Leste. It is spread by chickens moving from one area to another and passing on the disease through 'coughing'. This disease will kill a whole flock in a matter of days. A vaccination can be administered and is available through the Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
Tobias with the chicken pen at Sonrei House in Beto Tasi, Dili.
The Kadi Chicken Project
The Kadi Chicken Project has 3 main components: health education, chicken pens and chicken vaccination. Since 2008, we have been investigating the challenges of raising chickens in Timor-Leste. We educate farmers about looking after chickens and the benefits of eating eggs. We've found that good sturdy pens are helpful in protecting chickens especially during the night. We also collaborate with MAF to vaccinate the chickens.
A 30m roll of quality, rust-resistant chicken wire costs about $40 and vaccination is free.
We stock chicken wire, water drippers and food grinders to improve chicken raising. If you'd like to buy a roll of chicken wire and get started in raising chickens you can purchase them from our shop at our training centre in Beto.
As of October, 2016, we have 3 chicken pens operational and 3 more under construction.
Chicken mortality is a huge problem in Timor-Leste. Predation from other domestic and wild animals is likely to be the number 1 killer. Those that survive may be stolen. Those that remain are at risk of being totally wiped out by Newcastle's Disease.
In our program, we work to get chickens protected in pens (especially at night) and then get them vaccinated. We are still working on these challenges.
The pie chart below is a breakdown of the causes of why chickens died in our program.
One of the great benefits of keeping chickens is being able to eat the eggs. Locking up chickens overnight until mid-morning encourages the chickens to lay in the pen rather than in random locations to be gobbled by predators. Eggs can be incubated (usually by chickens) to produce more chickens, or they can be eaten, sold, bartered or given away. We encourage Timorese to first value family nutrition before selling eggs. Even with pens, farmers are experiencing difficulty with egg supply. This is related to various factors such as breed, chicken feed, health, age and chicken pen environment.
The pie chart below shows how many eggs are collected from each pen each day on average.
A pen with no eggs is a bit of a problem. 1-3 eggs is not really enough for a household. 4-6 eggs is great. More than 6 eggs means you have some surplus to sell or barter.
The pie chart below shows how many eggs are collected daily from all pens and what happens to these eggs.