Newcastle Disease control of chicken improves the welfare of rural households in Africa

A backyard farm of 10 adult chicken and 3 cocks could generate a profit of around 70 US$ in half a year, enough to support for instance school fees or malaria treatment.

newcastle disease control An FAO/IAEA funded five year coordinated research project (CRP) was initiated in 1998 to study back yard poultry production in 12 African countries and then to suggest and initiate appropriate intervention strategies that are economically viable. The first phase of the project involved surveying village farmers to assess needs and shortcomings and to formulate plans for the intervention phase. Village surveys indicated that Newcastle disease was seen as the major thread. Three of the top four most commonly reported clinical signs of disease (greenish/bloody diarrhoea, swollen head, and coughing) are also signs of Newcastle Disease (ND). So managing this disease became the top priority of the CRP. Other interventions included supplemental feeding, improved housing, control of parasites.

Vaccination carried out house to house [Mozambique] What makes Newcastle disease such an important factor in the perception of poultry farmers? This paramyxo virus is infecting most birds by contact or faeces. The severity of symptoms may vary greatly in different species but dependents as well on the virus strain. So infection can be spread by migrating wild birds and affect un-protected chicken. This often results in high mortality (up to 95%) specifically in young birds all over the village and in the worst case when infected birds are brought to the market to all the surrounding area. So the assets of families can be wiped out in a few days.

Vaccination carried out at concentration point [Mozambique] Vaccines against ND are available since long time, but as with all other live virus vaccines refrigeration condition is required to keep the vaccine viable. Thus vaccination was unrealistic on village level due to logistic constraints. A thermo-resistant vaccine strain was recently developed by an Australian laboratory and the technology was made freely available and extremely cheap. This opened the door for protecting poultry in the rural areas. The project had introduced this technology to the participating veterinary labs. Subsequent studies were made to evaluate the economic viabilities.

Chicken flocks in 12 African countries were evaluated for disease and production parameters according to standardized protocols. A number of flocks were vaccinated, in some additional treatment as anti-parasitic drugs or creep feeding of chicks was initiated. Farmers had to note the number of birds produced, sold or lost and the income generated. A preliminary economic analysis showed, that the intervention by a veterinarian was the most expensive part (mainly cost of transport) and it was decided to train village vaccinators which could apply the eye drop vaccine on demand. This strategy costing only single cents per bird was very well accepted in the villages, led to a high vaccination rate and to a veritable increase in chicken by more than 80%.

The additional treatments, specifically creep feeding of chicks and their management were only profitable in ND vaccinated birds. So a backyard farm of 10 adult chicken and 3 cocks could generate a profit of around 70 US$ in half a year, enough to support for instance school fees or malaria treatment.

Economic analysis based on backyard farm of 10 adult chicken and 3 cocks
(value in US Dollars)

  Vaccination with Feed supplementation Vaccination alone Feed Supplementation alone No Vaccination and no Feed Supplementation (Controls)
Increased income 711.54 526.28 469.87 236.54
Increased cost 532.62 156.72 410.00 128.00
Vaccine cost 34.62 28.72 0.00 0.00
Fuel cost 103.00 64.00 103.00 64.00
Labor cost 83.00 64.00 83.00 64.00
Feed cost 312.00 0.00 224.00 0.00
Profit 178.92 369.56 59.87 108.54