International Journal of Life Science and Engineering, Vol. 1, No. 4, September 2015 Publish Date: Jul. 3, 2015 Pages: 132-139

Socio-Economic Characteristics of Village Poultry Farmers in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State Nigeria and Their Production Constraints

R. A. Oluwafemi*

Department of Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria


This study was carried out to understand the socio-economic characteristics of village poultry farmers and challenges associated with poultry production in Ovia North east local Government area of Edo State, Nigeria. A total of sixty four respondents were randomly selected from five villages/Semi-urban Centres within the study area. Structured questionnaires were administered to collect data on this study. Sixty six percent of the farmers were 35 years and above. Seventy eight percent were female while twenty-two percent were males. The study also revealed that majority of the village poultry farmers was married. Ninety three percent of the respondents are involved in the free range system while sixty five market their poultry in the village market. Eighty four percent of the respondents engage in village poultry as addition to their main occupation, hence the small flock size in which only 16% of the farmers had eight and above. Marketing problems were confirmed by the entire respondent, ranging from transportation to price bargaining in the market. Other challenges mentioned by the respondents include; lack of information about high producing breeds, veterinary/extension services, agricultural loans and poor rural infrastructures among others. All the respondents agreed that village poultry production is profitable and it has the potentials for economic empowerment, food/nutrition security and sustainable rural development if major challenges are addressed. Therefore, effective implementation of policies and strategies that will address the challenges outlined in this study should be given due consideration if Nigeria’s vision 20, 2020 is to be achieved.


Village Poultry Production, Village Poultry Farmers, Constraints, Edo State, Nigeria

1. Introduction

Livestock is a major contributor to agricultural production, accounting for 40% of the global output, employing approximately 1.3 billion people, and supporting the livelihoods of almost 1 billion extremely poor people (those living below $1 per day) (Newman, 2011). Animals play a major role in tilling the soil where crops are grown, providing quality nutrition through meat and dairy products, harvesting the riches of the earth and their transport, providing fertilizers and moving water to feed thirsty lands and communities, providing and contributing to important traditions and ceremonial rights, supplying hides and fabric for clothing, and giving communities sustenance for improved living.

The role of livestock in human development is enormous. Protein from livestock is needed for physical and intellectual development as well as for developing immunity against disease (Atinmo and Akinyele 1983). Livestock production is also an instrument to socio-economic change to improved income and quality of life. In Nigeria, livestock provides about 36.5% of total protein intake (NISER/CBN 1991) but this still falls short of the minimum animal protein requirement recommended by FAO/WHO (1983). The level of domestic livestock production still falls short of demand, for example, in 1997, demand for beef was 554,000 tonnes, while it was 627,000 tonnes in 1998 but the domestic supplies were 376,000 and 391,000 tonnes in 1997 and 1998, respectively (NAERLS 1999). Efforts being made to improve the level of domestic production have not yielded the desired result.

In the developing world almost all rural households keep poultry. They are important sources of income, protein for the family and have also social importance, such as when the family can serve a special dish for visitors. The income from the production may seem small, but can be important for the household as they often can decide upon the use of the money they generate. The poultry may range freely in the household compound and find much of their own food, getting supplementary amounts from the householder. Participants at a 1989 workshop in Ile-Ife, Nigeria, defined rural poultry as a flock of less than 100 birds, of unimproved or improved breed, raised in either extensive or intensive farming systems. Labour is not salaried, but drawn from the family household (Sonaiya 1990).

Almost all traditional systems use natural incubation of eggs. It takes a couple of weeks to lay each hatch, 3 weeks to incubate the eggs, and around 2 months to take care of the chicks before laying is stated again. Thereby the hens can lay 3 to 4 clutches per year with 10 to 15 eggs in each (Gueye 1998). Losses in family poultry flocks can be very high. The most dramatic form is when epidemics run through the village, but losses caused by predators, theft and a high mortality of chicks may also be very considerable. Newcastle disease is one of the most troublesome diseases in smallholder poultry production. It is generally seen in epidemic outbreaks with a very high mortality.

Village Poultry is rarely the sole means of livelihood for the family but its one of a number of integrated and complementary farming activities contributing to the overall well-being of the household with income-generation arising from the sale of birds and eggs. For smallholder farmers in developing countries (especially in low income, food-deficient countries (LIFDC), village/family poultry represents one of the few opportunities for saving, investment and security against risk. This group of livestock is stronger than the larger livestock, more resistant to disease, more productive and can efficiently utilize marginal lands and their resources. Hence, there is need for more research into the study of village poultry production, and so, it is expected that the outcome of this study will motivate, guide and stimulate all stakeholders especially Government as well as relevant agencies and rural dwellers towards making efficient utilization of village poultry resources for poverty alleviation and economic development.

2. Methodology

The study covered selected villages in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo States of Nigeria. Edo State has a land mass of 19,794 square kilometers, it lies roughly between latitude 050degrees 44 N and 070degrees 34 N and between longitudes 050degrees 4 E and 060degrees 45E. It shares boundary with Kogi State to the north, in the west by Ondo State, in the south by Delta State and in the east by Kogi State. Five villages were randomly selected in the study area. In all, a total of 64 respondents were interviewed for this study using structured questionnaires.

3. Data Collection and Data Analysis

Data were collected in the study area through the administration of structured questionnaires. The service of a guide was employed to assist the researcher at this stage. Sixty-four questionnaires were administered to village poultry farmers in the study area. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics including frequency distribution, percentages and bar charts.

4. Results and Discussion

Socio-economic characteristic of respondents

Most of the farmers interviewed were within the age range of 20 to 35 years and above. Seventy – eight percent were females while the remaining twenty-two percent were males (Table 1). The breakdown showed that eleven percent were below thirty years of age, twenty three percent were between thirty one and thirty five while majority of the farmers (66%) were from thirty six years and above. This implies that the younger ones were less involved in village poultry production, a characteristic feature of the nonchalant attitude of youths especially in developing countries. This usually lead to underutilization of resources and hence poverty and poor livelihood in rural Africa.

The educational levels of the respondents showed that majority of the people in the area are educated. Eighty – nine percent of the village poultry farmers had formal education while only eleven percent had no formal education. Forty-seven percent of those who had formal education attempted secondary education while the rest attempted primary and tertiary education. The respondents were categorized as attempted because formal documents were not requested for during the study. However, the high percentage of those with formal education may be due to the location of the study area in which educational facilities are easily accessible. On the other hand, the situation clearly showed that people in the area and the State in general place a high priority on education.

The fact that village poultry production was not regarded as a major occupation was clearly evident from the results of this study. Eighty – four percent of the respondents engaged in other major occupation like plantain farming, cassava farming, cocoa farming as well as trading activities among others, while sixteen percent had no occupation. That some respondents had no other occupation is not an indication that they rely on village poultry production as their major occupation. This is evident from the flock size of the respondents which ranges from three to eight and above (Fig I).

Table 1. Socio-economic characteristics of respondents.

Questions Frequency Percentage
20–25 0 0.0
26–30 7 11.0
31–35 15 23.0
36 and above 42 66.0
Male 14 22.0
Female 50 78.0
Marital status    
Married 42 66.0
Single 22 34.0
Educational status    
No formal education 7 11.0
Formal education 57 89.0
Primary Occupation    
Have other Occupation 54 84.0
No other Occupation 10 16.0

Fig. I. Distribution of birds reared by the poultry farmers.

Fig. II. Sales location.

The distribution in Table 1 also showed the occupational status of the respondents. Eighty four percent (84%) have other jobs apart from poultry farming while the other 26% have little or no jobs. Small scale poultry production at the village level is not regarded as a commercial venture and so very little amount of time and money is invested on it. They are kept mostly to supplement family income and meat supply. This accounts for the reason why farmers and others who engage in village poultry production have other major occupation. The source of the breed stock of the respondents was characterized by 73% of them getting the breed stock from the open market while the other 27% get theirs from other sources like their neighbours and those who have been in practice for some years. In developing Countries, it is a common practice among small scale livestock owners to give foundation stock to their friends, families or neighbours.

Table 2 and Figure II showed different selling points for village poultry in the study area with majority (66%) selling on village market days, eleven percent by the road side while twenty three percent sell from house to house. This trend indicates the importance placed on village poultry production as means of supporting household income.

Table 2. How do you market your poultry.

Options Number of respondents Percentage
Road side 15 23
House to house 7 11
Village market days 42 66

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Table 3 revealed the source of fund for village poultry production in the study area. Majority (93%) of the farmers get funds from personal savings or from what could be regarded as family source. This is an indication that funding is a major problem in the study area and this is responsible for the small number of stock. The importance or the services of financial institutions in this regard is not felt by the poultry farmers. This could be due to lack awareness of such facilities by the farmers or the inefficiency of extension services. In other to improve poultry production and rural livelihood, funding opportunities should be made available to farmers in the area. Agricultural credit enhances productivity and promotes standard of living by breaking vicious cycle of poverty of small-scale farmers. Adegeye and Ditto (1985), described agricultural credit as the process of obtaining control over the use of money, goods and services in the present in exchange for a promise to repay at a future date. The crucial role of credit in agricultural production and development can also be appraised from the perspective of the quantity of problems emanating from the lack of it.

Table 3. Source of funds.

Options Number of respondents Percentage
Family source 60 93
Loans 4 7

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Although, it has been confirmed by this study that village poultry production is profitable, table 4 however listed price bargaining as a major challenge. Seventy eight percent of the respondents listed this as a challenge, therefore, exposure to urban markets and other avenues for selling their products will no doubt open more opportunities for the farmers.

Table 4. Marketing problems.

Options Number of respondents Percentage
Transport 14 22
Price bargaining 50 78

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Table 5 revealed the true picture about the importance of village poultry production in relation to nutrition security and livelihood of rural dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa. Fifty six percent of the farmers engage in village poultry production for the purpose of supporting their family income while forty four percent are into village poultry production to improve their household food and nutrition situation. Nutrition insecurity especially low animal protein intake is a major problem in Africa and especially Nigeria where according to FAO (1989), the animal protein intake of an adult human being is estimated at 15% of the total caput protein when compared with an average intake of 55% for a European.

Table 5. Reasons for engaging in poultry production.

Options Number of respondents Percentage
Food 28 44
Financial support 36 56

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Table 6. Do you think poultry farming is profitable.

Options Number of respondents Percentage
Yes 64 100
No 0 0

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Table 6 showed that village poultry production is profitable in the area and this accounted for the reason why some of the farmers have been in the practice for some years. All the respondents agree that village poultry production is profitable. The reason for this is not farfetched taking into consideration the management practices and little or no other expenses incurred on feed and drugs as compared to hybrid poultry production. The importance of village poultry production as well as other small scale agricultural enterprises towards the economic transformation of rural areas cannot be over emphasized; government should therefore put necessary policies in place to encourage the farmers.

Fig. III. Source of funds.

Fig. IV. Marketing problems.

Fig. V. Reasons for engaging in poultry production.

Fig. VI. Poultry profitability.

Table 7 revealed the state of extension services in the study area as it affects the farmers and livestock development. The usefulness of effective extension services were stressed in the area of agricultural inputs, agricultural loans, products marketing and research with 52%, 94%, 80% and 83% of the respondents respectively agreeing that extension services is needed in the areas listed. Seventy seven percent of the respondents did not see any need for veterinary services because very little attention is mostly paid to treatment of village poultry. This is revealed in table 8 and figure VIII where ninety percent of the farmers offer no treatment to their stock and they did not record appreciable losses that can take them out of the business.

Table 7. The need for extension services.

Options Veterinary services Agricultural Inputs Agricultural Loans Marketing Research Information
Respondents % Respondents % Respondents % Respondents % Respondents %
Agree 15 23 33 52 60 94 51 80 53 83
Disagree 49 77 31 48 4 6 13 20 11 17

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Fig. VII. The need for extension services.

Fig. VIII. Treatment of poultry.

Fig. IX. Source of labour.

Table 8. Treatment of poultry.

Option Respondents Percentage
Do not offer treatment to poultry 57 90
Offer treatment to poultry 7 10

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

Table 9 revealed the source of labour for village poultry farming in the study area. The situation in which all the farmers make use of family labour is in support of the fact that village poultry production is not labour intensive and does not require extra cost of hired labour compared to commercial hybrid poultry production.

Table 9. Source of labour.

Options Respondents Percentage
Personal/family 64 100
Hired 0 0

Source: Field work carried out by Okudoh, M & Oluwafemi, R.A (August 2009)

5. Conclusion

In conclusion, the study showed that village poultry production is profitable and has the potential to positively impact the nutritional status and livelihood of people in the area. It has also shown that village poultry production is not labour intensive, does not require huge capital and with simple management practices. Finally, the need for research information, extension services, finance and inputs were identified and the need for government to address these issues cannot be overemphasized.


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