Kuroiler, a hybrid chicken from India, has become a very popular option for Kenya and Ugandan farmers due to its ability to outperform indigenous varieties, providing more meat and eggs under rural scavenging conditions.
It is no wonder that several Kenyan farmers are now known to go to Uganda to look for the Kuroiler.
In Uganda – as in most African countries – more than 85 percent of families live in rural village conditions, where small-scale backyard poultry operations are ubiquitous.
In addition to providing sustenance, the birds are now helping Ugandan farmers to make profits – and be at par with others.
In previous years, chicken breeds indigenous to Uganda often performed poorly under harsh rural conditions, leaving families struggling to make ends meet financially and failing to adequately supply their basic dietary needs.
Most of the current frenzy to introduce the Kuroiler is credited to Jagdev Sharma, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, who has been working to enhance the power of poultry in Uganda. His project centers on the introduction of these hybrid chicken from India which are not only providing more meat but also laying more eggs.
“Kuroiler chickens have become very popular among farmers in Uganda,” Sharma says. “The demand for these chickens continues to rise.”
It is from Uganda that the Kuroiler found their way into Kenya where they have given the local kienyeji chicken some competition. This is because the birds are scavengers, just like the ordinary kienyeji birds but the difference is that they eat almost all the time. The farmer does need to invest in costly commercial feeding for the Kuroiler chicken as they can easily fend for themselves by scavenging. Thanks to their appetite, they put on weight very fast.
What we now know from Kenya and Uganda is that the bird has changed the fortunes of many families in rural areas. These families are able to produce a lot of meat and a large number if eggs without any massive investment. The birds also have a very high survival rate compared to other exotic breeds. The Kuroilers survive in the same condition just like the local kienyeji birds and the most important thing is that they have a higher rate of productivity than the local kienyeji birds.
One of the biggest advantage of the Kuroiler chickens is that they grow very fast requiring no special commercial feeding. They can put on weight very quickly in scavenging environment while feeding on leftovers of food, grass, termites and many other kinds of food.
If a farmer is able to supplement the Kuroiler feeding with some commercial feeding or even locally available feeds such as yellow maize, soya, omena and even the chicken mash, the Kuroiler can do really well. You need to vaccinate and deworm them just like you would other kinds of chicken on a regular schedule but thats just about the kind of management effort that you will have to put up for your Kuroiler hens.
When Do Kuroiler Start Laying Eggs?
The Kuroiler chickens begin laying eggs at five months. Once they start, they will lay continuously for a period of 2 years. They also produce very big eggs with bright dark yellow egg yolks which are much preferred by many buyers. The Kuroiler eggs also contain more nutrients thanks to their scavenging lifestyle which exposes them to more nutrients during their feeding.
Get More Eggs with Kuroiler
The Kuroiler hens produce at least 150-200 eggs per year compared to the ordinary kienyeji chickens which produce about 40 eggs per year. This is one of the reasons why the Kuroiler hens have been billed as the number one poverty eradicators. A farmer is able to increase their production four-fold without any costly investments in feeding or housing. It is important to note that unlike the local chicken, the Kuroiler hens do not brood i.e., they do not sit on their eggs. So if you want Kuroiler chicks, you will need to invest in an incubator.
Recently, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation approved a $1.4 million supplement to fund the Ugandan Kuroiler project through 2016. Efficient breeding and distribution of Kuroilers across Uganda will enable the thriving project to be self-sustaining at the conclusion of the 18-month funding cycle.
Drawing on the success of the Ugandan example, the Gates Foundation is additionally funding a comprehensive, $11 million plan, headquartered at the International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya. During this five-year project, the performance of Kuroilers will be compared with native chicken breeds in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria.
What this means is that Kuroiler will be one of the breeds to watch in both Kenya and Uganda. Indigenous Kienyeji hens in this two countries produce just 20 to 40 eggs per year, with a typical male chicken weighing in at around 1.5 to 2 kg after nine to 12 months of growth.
Why Kuroiler is good
Kuroiler chickens are different. The hearty hybrids have been thriving in village flocks in India, where they were first developed, for over 15 years. Kuroilers are high-efficiency scavengers that can be used for both meat and egg production. Kuroilers closely resemble indigenous chickens, yet produce five times the number of eggs per year (150-200 versus 40) and attain almost twice the body weight (3.5 kg versus 2 kg) in less than half the time of indigenous backyard chickens. Kuroilers are vaccinated at hatch, greatly reducing disease-related mortality.
Researchers have found that Kuroiler chickens do well when compared with native chickens under identical scavenging conditions. It was found that Kuroilers easily coexisted with local birds but outpaced their native counterparts in egg and meat production and experienced low rates of mortality (deaths).
It was also found that at three weeks of age, the brooded chicks are ready to be sold to village farmers.