Mrs Rita Mukwambani is a farmer from Zhombe, a rain fed area adjacent to Mayorca Irrigation Scheme in Midlands. In 2021, she received 15 Boschveldt chickens from the Smallholders Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) under its Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF). The family already had 15 chickens of the same type.
The chickens started laying eggs which the Mukwambanis gave to the indigenous chickens for brooding. After the eggs hatched, the family kept the new chicks in a separate fowl run until they were mature enough to join the other chickens.
Mrs Mukwambani said “We continued to give the chickens stock feed suitable for roadrunners which we bought from the shops. In order to make the chickens lay more eggs we gave them road runner breeder. Sometimes we run out of the commercial stock feed and we take maize from the stocks that we grow in our fields and we crush it together with soya beans.
Mrs Mukwambani says the family also turns to natural stock feed that grows in the forest as animal medicines “We also take moringa leaves, which grow naturally within the community, crush it and mix it with the stock feed so that our chickens do not fall sick.”, she says. The market is local and they sell each crate of eggs for US$4. She adds “We also sell our chickens to the local market, especially the roosters. When they become too many, they fight among themselves and this disturbs the hens when they want to lay eggs. In December 2021, I sold 28 of the roosters at US$10 each and I managed to make US$280. Just before schools opened in January 2022, I sold about 40 hens at US$6 each and raised US$240 which I used to pay boarding school fees for my son”
The chickens also form part of the diet for the family. “We slaughter some of the chickens for consumption by the family while we also eat some of the eggs. We also use the chickens to pay people who come help us weed the fields’’
As a family, the SIRP project has helped us a lot. Although we face a few challenges and have to buy medicines like Alisteral, we also blend these with natural herbs like aloe and pepper it helps the chickens. We put these herbs in the water that the chickens drink