Growing poultry farmers will soon get practical training with the latest chicken farming technologies thanks to an advanced new chicken house built at the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute (KZNPI), with the support of the United States-based World Poultry Foundation (WPF).
The KZNPI poultry management training centre near Pietermaritzburg is an accredited Agriculture Sector Education Training Authority (AgriSeta) training centre that upskills students and emerging farmers from across South Africa, and from other African countries including Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, Nigeria and Mauritius.
Previously having only two naturally ventilated chicken houses accommodating 400 chicks each, there was a need to add more advanced, automated systems to allow for training on the newest production processes. They also accommodate older chicks in the new automated chicken house and thus allowing students to gain experience in farming birds at different stages of their life cycle.
WPF funded the establishment of the new facility whereas donations from Fancom BV and Dorna Distributors CC were used to purchase equipment. The new facility can accommodate up to 1400 birds. . The first batch of chicks arrived during the lockdown, allowing the KZNPI team to get used to the new systems before training resumes after the lockdown.
According to Lindelihle Nxumalo, the KZNPI farm manager, the original, open-sided chicken houses depend on natural ventilation, which has particular demerits in hot areas such as KwaZulu-Natal, where climate control is difficult.
“It equips this chicken house with cooling pads, which help to keep the birds cool in hot weather, automated feeding systems, and state-of-the-art scales that automatically monitor the birds’ weight,” he says. Nxumalo says that the advanced system allows the birds to attain their optimum weight without feeding them too much. “Ultimately, the new facilities will have to improve the feed conversion ratio.,” says Nxumalo.
KZNPI director Tessa de Carle says that while these new facilities are beyond the reach of many emerging farmers, those being trained to use the advanced equipment see and experience the latest technology.
“It offers a huge addition to their vision and hopes,” she says. “People who are lucky enough to get training here may then work for the local South African poultry producers and many can start or advance their own small businesses.”
The new chicken house is part of an ongoing WPF campaign to improve capacity among poultry sector stakeholders in South Africa. Nearly 200 emerging poultry farmers have learned to improve their financial management and discovered more efficient and cost-effective farming methods in a series of workshops by the World Poultry Foundation.