Growth in domestic animal numbers exerts pressure on quality of feeds
Posted Tuesday, February 5 2013 at 02:00
Compromising quality. Uganda’s domestic animals sector continues to experience some progressive growth, however the growth has outstripped supply of available feeds, which has exposed the industry to fake and low quality feeds manufactured or mixed by both big manufacturers and backyard mixers.
Uganda’s increasing domestic animal numbers continue to put pressure on feeds thus compromising quality. Data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics indicates that between 2010 and 2011, cattle, sheep and goat numbers increased by about 3 per cent respectively, while pigs and poultry rose by 3.5 per cent and 10 per cent respectively in the same period.
As a result, demand for feeds has risen tremendously, thus affecting quality as a number of producers seek to benefit from the spike.
Experts say majority of livestock production units are characterised by low output per animal and unit area, slow growth rates and small-sized mature animals due to low quality feeds.
The units are mainly in or near urban areas and use compounded animal feeds to supplement rations.
Ms Margaret Nabulime of Africa Institute for Strategic Animal Resource Services and Development (Afrisa) - at Makerere Veterinary Medicine department says: “Animal feeds account for about 70 per cent of production costs; hence they have greater impact on profitability.”
Whereas small - scale dairy, poultry and piggery farms are a source of livelihood to the poor, production levels are still hindered by dependency on limited availability of feeds, lack of skilled manpower and limited access to credit.
Production is also hindered by lack of information, knowledge and skills as well as limited training in animal nutrition and feed milling technology.
This, Ms Nabulime says: “has led to poor quality and expensive feeds, resulting into low livestock numbers and poultry production in Uganda.”
Mr Godfrey Ddamba, the Ugachick quality controller, says because many producers of feeds are not farmers, it could be the reason for the increased compromise in the quality of feeds.
He says: “For instance there are different birds reared for different purposes. All these have special feeds considering their respective purposes.”
However, he adds ‘some people who mix the feeds without expertise don’t follow this thus affecting quality.”
According to Mr Ddamba, compromising of the quality of raw materials is the other issue responsible for the fall out in quality.
“People who supply raw materials are too many and some are after making super-normal profits. Because of this they end up adding ingredients like timber husks into maize bran.”
Similarly Mr Godfrey Matsiko, the Nume Feeds managing director, agrees with other sector players.
He says: “The absence of a policy on raw materials used in the production of animal feeds continues to play into the hands of illicit manufacturers.
Also there is the issue of backyard mixers who are mostly small scale farmers.
These usually mix their feeds due to issues related to cost [cost effective] and the need to ensure that their animals get the best of quality feeds.
Mr Geoffrey Busuulwa - a resident of Bombo rears cattle, pigs and poultry for commercial purposes.
His story tells of distrust for his dependence on stockist and retailers for animal feeds.
“I used to depend so much on buying already made feeds and I was taught a serious lesson, Mr Busuulwa says.
“Two-years into this business I started mixing my feeds and within just one year, there is a noticeable difference in both quality and quantity of my animals.”
He says: “The beauty of mixing my feeds is that you not only get to know the different types of ingredients but you also become an expert in determining measurements,” he adds:
“I realised that most of the feeds on the market were fake and of low quality. This affected the quality of my products. Thus I made a decision to start mixing my feeds.”
The other benefit in mixing one’s own feeds is according to Mr Busuulwa related to cost.
“This, he says, ‘am able to save some money that I would otherwise spend if I chose to buy from stockists.”
A kilogramme of maize bran goes for between Shs600 and Shs400 for grade II in Kisenyi.
If I choose to mix my feeds I will only spend Shs80,000 for a 60 kilogramme bag of feeds for my pigs, whereas I will spend Shs120,000 if I choose to buy finished feeds for the same quantity on the open market.
Besides he adds: “I am able to monitor the progress of my animals considering the kind of feeds I mix. If I need to adjust I will know what to do and how to go about it.”
However, he advises one needs to be very careful when dealing with some ingredients.