Vaccination Trial Against Poultry Diseases: Toward Managed Backyard Poultry Farming
Traditional rearing practices, the prevalence of multiple diseases, and a high mortality rate was a norm among small scale poultry farmers in Galchi Rural Municipality, Dhading. The idea that a decent income can be generated from Local Poultry (free range) was unheard of and farmers were clueless about the availability of vaccines.
With easy access to the national highway filled with roadside restaurants and at only 50 km proximity from the Kathmandu valley, the area showed an immense potential for local poultry as a profitable enterprise (local poultry fetch higher price than broiler).
Heifer Project Nepal (HPN) and Global Alliance for Veterinary Medicine (GALVmed) collaborated with Galchi Rural Municipality to vaccinate chickens in 280 consenting households against Newcastle Disease (ND) and Fowl Pox (FP) disease with the help of Sanskar Women’s Cooperative. Farmers were oriented about the benefits and simplicity of concurrent administration of non-invasive vaccination against these two deadly diseases. As a phase out support to the community, backyard poultry management training was given followed by free vaccination and deworming to all the interested and consenting farmers.
“I had never really thought of it, but now that proof is in front of me, I cannot deny. The vaccines have worked. I will make sure to vaccinate all my chickens from next time” says 40-year-old Arjun Rokka, who was never able to have a thriving flock size.
Every time it seemed like success was close, some disease would obliterate his flock which meant he had never been able to cash in his chickens. Heifer vaccinated 5 out of 32 of his chickens against both ND and FP. When the next wave of infection hit the village, all but the 5 vaccinated chickens perished. This was the decisive moment for Arjun.
Similar was the story of Thuli Kanchi Tamang where all but the 5 vaccinated chickens out of the 52 perished “I didn’t even know vaccines for poultry existed” she said, “I will vaccinate all of my chickens from now on, I see now that losing chickens, means losing money.”
This experience has brought about a behavioral change in the farmers, and many are armed with the knowledge to be successful sustainable poultry farmers even when Heifer project phases out from the community. Awareness and interest have been raised at the local government office; they hope to implement similar trials in other wards of the Rural Municipality.
Grassroot interventions such as this is how Heifer plans to pave way for smallholders to learn by doing. After the success of the vaccination drive and trainings, farmers of the area have realized the prospective of Local Poultry. Many farmers have expressed their desire to start a well-managed backyard poultry enterprise to fuel their annual income.
Photos by Dr. Bikas Shah