Background and Objective: The profitability of a poultry farm mainly depends on the quality of the feed offered to birds and its cost. This quality of feed is closely linked to feed raw materials. The objective of this study was to inventory the local feed resources that can be used in formulating the diets of poultry in the western plateau region of Togo. Materials and Methods: Thus, a survey was carried out in the seven prefectures of the region among 210 farmers chosen on the basis of the importance of their poultry farm and distributed in 35 villages. Direct questions made it possible to collect information on the number of hens reared, the feedstuffs used, their availability during the year, the mixtures of feed made and the frequency of distribution of feed to chickens. Results: The results showed that the average number of hens was 121 birds per farmer. Thirty-three local feedstuffs, made up of agricultural products (corn, soybeans, sorghum etc.) and their by-products (corn bran, spent grain from Tchouk, termites etc.) and unconventional resources (Taro leaf, cassava etc.) were identified. The most feedstuffs used were white corn (95.71%), small smoked fish debris (77.14%) and roasted soybeans (70.95%). The majority (87.62%) of farmers mix these feed resources before feeding on average 3 times a day to chicks (67.62%) and 2 times a day to adult chickens (63.81%). Conclusion: It can be concluded that the western plateau region of Togo is rich in local feed resources that can be used in traditional poultry feed to reduce feed costs.
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Traditional poultry farming remains the most dominant poultry farming system in Togo, accounting for more than 80% of the rural population and mainly comprises hens of local breeds that are well adapted to the conditions of the environment1. Togolese consumers appreciate local chicken meat more than broiler chicken, which is considered to be too tender and has a bland taste2. Despite its importance, local chicken production faces multiple constraints3-6, among which feed occupies an important part. Nowadays, improvements in crossbreeding with exotic breeds and introducing new breeds adapted to traditional breeding (Noiler/Goliath and Sasso) would necessitate an increase in feed requirement for satisfactory results. The feed consumed by these chickens is increasingly formulated by imitating the usual practices of commercial poultry farms7. The cost of the feed then becomes higher to make the farms of these traditional chickens profitable, hence the need to use local resources in the formulation of rations. Contrary to developed countries which have public and private composition tables based on extensive analyses8, Togo has very few up-to-date chemical composition data on its local feed raw materials. Thus, foreign tables would often be used for formulation purposes, resulting in imprecise feed formulas and poor zootechnical performance.
However, several local feed resources would exist but the nutritional characteristics and effects on the performance of traditional chickens are unknown. According to Mpouok8, only a reasonable control of the quality of the raw materials makes it possible to combine them, taking into account the physiological requirements of the poultry and the desired performances, to obtain an economically viable feed. The future development of commercial poultry production depends on the availability and perfect knowledge of the nutritional values of the available raw materials Mpouok8 in order to develop the feed cost share (50-70%) optimally9. The aim of this study was, on the one hand, to investigate the traditional poultry feeding and on the other hand, to highlight the local feed resources used in the diet of poultry in western plateau region of Togo.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study zone: Located between 6°31 and 8°22 north latitude and 0°32 and 1°38 east longitude, the plateau region is bounded in the north by the central region, to the south by the maritime region, to the east by the Republic of Benin and to the west by the Republic of Ghana. The plateau region is the largest in the country, with an area of 16.800 km² and a population of 1.375.165 inhabitants, including 696.974 women10. The physical setting of the plateau region is marked by an opposition between the mountainous west where the Atakora chain, made up of the Akebou, Akposso and Danyi plateau, dominates the Litimé plain to the east where the vast plain spreads Precambrian covering more than two-thirds of the regional surface. Due to its contrasting and varied relief, the plateau region benefits from a relatively nuanced climate ranging from medium altitude subequatorial (cool plateau) to transitional equatorial and humid tropical climates (climate of the Precambrian peneplain). Four main hydrographic basins drain this region: The Volta, Mono, Zio and Haho basins. It is one of the most important regions in traditional poultry production. In 2015 it was the largest producer of local poultry, with a workforce of 5.494.471 heads11. It is subdivided into two agricultural regions: the Est plateau region and the western plateau region. This study took place in the western plateau region of Togo, made up of seven prefectures, namely Agou, Kloto, Kpele, Danyi, Amou, Wawa and Akebou (Fig. 1).
Sampling of farmers: The survey for the identification of feeding practices in traditional poultry farming and local feed resources to be used in poultry feed was conducted among 210 farmers in villages in the prefectures of the western plateau region.
The region was chosen based on the number of chickens produced locally. Five villages were chosen per prefecture according to the existence of a commercial farmer and the importance of poultry farming in the area, totaling 35 villages surveyed. Six (06) farmers were randomly selected in each village based on their receptivity and the importance of their production.
The choice of villages and farmers was made with the support of Heads of agencies, Senior Technicians and ICAT Advisors in the region.
Development and administration of the questionnaire: The survey was carried out from August 3-6 and December 1-5, 2021. A structured questionnaire was administered to the respondents to elicit information that captured the study’s objectives using a survey sheet (interview guide). The funnel-shaped questionnaire was developed starting from general questions on the respondents' location and personal information (identity) to specific questions related to the objectives of the survey.
The specific questions mainly concerned:
- Breeding poultry species and other animal species
- Number of birds reared
- Feed resources distributed by the farmer to the birds at the young (chick) and the adult stage
- Reasons for using a category of feed resources at a given stage of growth
- Availability of feed resources during the year in the area
- Daily frequencies of feed distribution to the poultry
- Different feed mixtures made by the farmer
- Distribution of water to poultry
Before the survey, the questionnaire was tested in a pilot study with five farmers at Avétonou village to improve its structure, arrangement and clarity.
The farmers from each village were brought together in their usual meeting place with the help of the ICAT advisers. They were engaged individually to answer questions. The specific questions were addressed after a brief introduction mentioning the objective of the survey, the interest of the farmer's results and the approximate interview duration. The geographical coordinates of the meeting place were noted on the survey sheet. Some farmers who could not make the trip to the meeting place were contacted and questioned at homes.
Before the day of the interview, the farmers were asked to bring samples of the raw material they used to the meeting places.
Data collection and analysis: Data was collected using the survey form developed for this purpose.
The data collected were:
- The socio-demographic characteristics of farmers: identity, marital status, ethnicity, sex, primary and secondary activity, species of poultry raised and the number of hens raised
- The Feed resources used in poultry feed and their availability during the year
- The Poultry feeding: Distribution of feed to poultry, distribution of water to poultry, number of daily distributions, the mixture of feed
The geographical coordinates of each surveyed village were reported on a map.
The data were analyzed using the software STATA version 16.0. The descriptive statistics was used to highlight the frequencies and the Chi-square test was performed at the 5% threshold to establish the relationships between certain variables.
Sociodemographic characteristics of farmers: Of the 210 farmers surveyed, 72 were women, corresponding to 34.29%. Information on marital status revealed only two types of farmers: married or widowed. Most farmers surveyed were married (99.05%) against 0.95% of widowers. The western plateau region of Togo is ethnically diverse. Eleven ethnic groups were identified in the seven prefectures of this region (Fig. 2). The largest ethnic group in terms of numbers was the Ewe (58.1%), followed by the Kabyè (22.38%).
The activities that occupied the daily life of the farmers surveyed were agriculture, livestock, trade, computer maintenance, health worker, education, sewing, hairdressing but chery and carpentry. All these activities constituted either the main profession of the farmer (Table 1) or the secondary profession (Table 2). It was noted that agriculture was the main activity (73.33%) of the respondents, while livestock farming was the secondary activity (83.33%) of these respondents.
Poultry species and number of hens reared: The study showed that the hens produced in this prefecture was either pure (hens only) or in association with other poultry. Indeed, most poultry farmers surveyed (68.1%) raised hens alone in their poultry house or farmyard against 31.9% who raised hens associated with other poultry species. Poultry species other than hens produced by these farmers were turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks and pigeons.
The breeds of hens that were raised consisted not only of the traditional (local) breed but also of the improved and imported traditional breed (Noiler, Goliath and Sasso).
The number of hens raised per poultry farmer were between 5 and 5000 birds (Table 3).
Feed resources used in poultry feed in the western plateau of Togo: The feed resources used in poultry feed in the western plateau region of Togo were diversified, ranging from conventional raw materials (corn, soybeans, etc.) to artisanal processing by-products and unconventional raw materials such as leaves. Moringa and Leucaena, termites, Tchouk spent grain (local drink made from sorghum), soy spent grain (Okara), baobab leaf, corn spent grain, taro leaf, cassava leaf and red oil were used. A total of 38 resources have been identified, 33 of which were local raw materials.
Availability of the raw materials: The raw materials were available locally or in the market but the quantities (abundance) varied depending on the time of the year. Not all raw materials were available at the same time in the seven prefectures of the region. Some were found in all seven prefectures, while others were only found in one prefecture (Table 4-6).