Poultry eggs are usually expensive during the harmattan season and it makes me wonder why. Poultry farmers usually don’t smile this period and business is affected.
Lets take a look at why poultry; chickens do not favour the harmattan season so we can further support those farmers around us!
Harmattan season is a period many poultry farmers dread due to the extreme cold and dust with many farmers shying away from stocking day old chicks.
Egg production drops drastically due to unfavourable weather, disease outbreaks are also prevalent.
In a bid to prevent excessive cold in the pen, some farmers cover up the pen with trampoline reducing cross ventilation and causing more harm.
Day old chicks are cheaper as most farmers do not stock up and for me that is a massive harvest and the best time to get them on board knowing how to survive and raise these little ones in the dreaded harmattan period.
The harmattan season is just like every other season with its’ own peculiarities and favourite people. The season is characterized by extreme cold, dry and dusty wind from night till early morning and this is from end of November till mid March. There are also no greens in nature and vegetables are on the high side.
There is a drastic reduction in atmospheric water, low humidity and these results in stuffiness and increased infections in both man and animals.
The warm wind picks up various particles and wind borne diseases into the lungs through the mouth and nose causing respiratory infections, nose bleeding, pneumonia and reduced overall performance.
Man and animals therefore dread this season and are usually kitted up in other to reduce the risk of infections and diseases.
The weather is cold during the nights and early mornings, dusty and dry wind during the day and of course the part I don’t like; scaly and dry skin!
Surviving Harmattan Season In Poultry Farming
The season is not totally bad for man and animals as various food items, fruits and vegetables are in abundance, clothes get dried soon and of course, I get to stock up on day old chicks at an almost free rate; on a lighter note though.
There are definitely proven ways to cope and come out of this season by experienced and cautious farmers through practices and best farm management activities. The best way to pull through this season with little or no mortality includes:
Adequate Water Supply
Provision of potable, clean water supply for the birds to avoid dehydration and this water needs to be changed at least twice in a day as the weather is hot and birds do not take warm water.
You can also try using iced blocks to reduce the frequency of changing the water.
Regulating the temperature to suit the birds health conditions. There is extreme cold later in the night and early hours therefore, lightening should be available to provide adequate heat while there should be enough room for air during the day.
Adequate provision of high density feeds to the birds in the morning to generate body heat, and withdrawal or little feed during the afternoons till evenings when the weather is hot.
In the cage system where there are no carpet grasses, the ground can be watered to reduce the dusty wind the birds would inhale.
Water The Roof
Where the roof of the poultry pen is not leaking, the use of water sprinklers can be employed to wet the roof and cool the pen to a large extent providing comfort to the birds.
Dusty winds and dry environment is a thriving period for spiders to build webs around and trap more dust. The poultry pen should be dusted and the nets cleaned with moist foam as often as necessary but not in a way to get the birds agitated. Trapped air in the cobwebs is not good for the birds.
No Bush Burning
Burning of bushes and waste should be discouraged close to the birds to avoid respiratory infections and saturated air. In situations where bushes are burnt, the pen can be covered with moist fabrics and the use of foams safely.
The administration of electrolyte and vitamins should be included in their daily water routine to enhance their metabolism and regulate their body temperature.
Avoid overcrowding the poultry pen for whatsoever reason. Some farmers assume that when the birds come close together, they can keep warm forgetting the fact that the air becomes denser. Overcrowding would also increase the spread of diseases and infections.
Harmattan period is also known to aid fire outbreaks and this should be prevented at all cost. Ensure that all electrical appliances, switches and sockets are off before retiring for the day and in the use of lanterns or naked fire, make sure they are quenched.
To avoid fire outbreak, inflammables which includes petrol, kerosene and even paint should not be stored or kept close to the poultry.
It is important to have a fire extinguisher handy and within reach should in case there is a fire outbreak.
Check Wooden Areas
Harmattan period also favours the collapse of buildings due to extreme heat; I know from personal experience that wooden doors cracks and plastics tend to break more during this season. Therefore ensure that all wooden planks, pens and strong to avoid a collapse.
The staff and management in the poultry should also use nose cover to avoid inhaling the host dust and prevent respiratory infections as well.
And when any of the staff becomes infected with cold, catarrh etc, they should be encouraged to stay away from both birds and animals as their droppings can cause an outbreak to man and livestock.
It is important to adhere to bio-security measures guiding the rearing of livestock especially during the harmattan season.
We can see that the harmattan period is not the favourite of many people and especially poultry farmers. It is therefore important to put all measures in place for a successful poultry business and the total well being of the entire management.
Surviving skills required during the season is not within reach except where there is inadequate supply of water.
Both staff man and animals should be well taken care of so that at the beginning of the rains, we all can breathe a sigh of relief and once again enjoy the greens and blossoming flowers together!