Livestock Research for Rural Development 23 (7) 2011 Notes to Authors LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Status of chicken consumption and marketing among the Maasai of Kajiado District, Kenya

E N Muthiani, E C Kirwa and A J N Ndathi

KARI Kiboko Range Research Centre,
PO Box 12, Makindu, 90138. Kenya
enmuthiani@gmail.com

Abstract

A survey was carried out in Mashuru and Loitoktok divisions of Kajiado District in 2004 to establish the status of chicken consumption and marketing. A total of 242 households were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Simultaneously, a one- off parallel market survey was done in four markets to establish the status of chicken marketing. 

The survey established that 56.5% of the respondents kept chicken and chicken production was a domain of women with 71.7% and 11.9%  of women and men respectively owning birds at household level. Chicken were kept mainly for income from the sale of eggs and live birds with live birds considered more important and all the respondents kept indigenous birds under free ranging with average flock sizes of 12 and 4 birds per household in Mashuru and Loitoktok division.  About 84.0% and 70% of   respondents in Mashuru and Loitoktok divisions respectively treated their birds using herbal and conventional (for large livestock) drugs.  About 87.7% and 85.1% of all the respondents in the district ate eggs and chicken meat respectively.  The young (<19yrs) and the youth (20-39yr) constituted 76.0% and 74.3% respectively of those who eat eggs and chicken.  Chicken were sold in markets but there were no designated poultry market in all the three centers and the supply did not meet the demand.  Mean buying price of Ksh.184 29.6 for large cock Ksh. 87.5 17.7 for small hen was lower than the selling price of Ksh. 228 42 for large cock and Ksh 99.2 57.3 for small hen. Diseases, pests and lack of management skills were the main constraints to chicken production. The need to build the capacity of the community in chicken production disease control and general management in addition to setting up a market infrastructure in the district was recommended.

Key Words: Age-group, pastoral, production, sex, venues


Introduction

Increasing human population in the pastoral areas has led to decline in grazing land, resource degradation and an overall drop in livestock holdings per household (Lesorogol 1998; Mwangi 2000). The increasing trend in land demarcation in the pastoral areas has led to small sized land pieces which cannot support conventional livestock production (Kimani and Pickard 1998; Galaty 1992).  The need to identify production systems that minimize pressure on land is urgent. Chicken production is a landless enterprise and can provide the much-needed source of protein for the vulnerable groups in pastoral households and at the same time generate income from sale of surplus birds and eggs (Tuitoek et al 1998).

Though indigenous chickens are hardy, well adapted to the rangeland conditions and survive with minimal inputs and still can produce (Ndegwa and Kimani 1996), few studies (Ndungu et al 2003) have been done regarding their production, consumption and marketing  in the pastoral set up in Kenya.  Indeed, the common assumption amongst most people including policy makers is that the Maasai don’t keep chicken leave alone eating it.  This study was designed to establish the status of chicken use, consumption and marketing in pastoral Kajiado District.


Materials and methods

The study was carried out among the pastoral Maasai in Mashuru and Loitoktok Divisions of Kajiado District (Figure 1).  Most of Mashuru Division lies in ecological zone V and receives an annual average rainfall of 400-500 (ASAL 1990).  Vegetation is grassland interspersed with Acacia drepanolobium.  Land was individually owned.  Loitoktok Division lies in the Amboseli ecosystem with most of the area receiving less than 350mm of rain annually.  The vegetation is Acacia and Commiphora scattered woodland and bushland. Land was communally owned in group ranches with pockets of individually owned parcels.  


Figure 1. Map of subb-locations in Mashuru and Loitoktok Division, Kajiado District

A total of 242 households were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire.  In Mashuru Division, 121 households in four Sub-locations in four Locations were interviewed.  The Sub-locations were Kiboko, Merueshi, Mashuru and Emarti. In Loitoktok division, 121 households from five Sub-locations in three Locations were interviewed. The Sub- locations were Kimana, Oltiasika, Olgulului, Mbirikani and Lenkism.  Consumption of chicken and chicken products was established in Mashuru and Mbilini Sub location in Emali Location, Mashuru Division and Kimana Location in Loitoktok Division.  Marketing of chicken was established through a one off market survey at Mashuru, Kimana, Isara and Emali markets using a semi-structured questionnaire.  Interviewees were buyers, sellers or both buyers and sellers depending on the activity each were carrying out in the market at that particular time.  The data were  analysed using Statistical Package for Social Scientist (SPSS).


Results

A higher percentage of households keep chicken in Mashuru than in Loitoktok Division and the enterprise is dominated by women (Table 1).

Table 1. Households keeping chicken and chicken ownership in households

     

% Chicken ownership at the household

Division

Sub-Location

% Households keeping chicken

Women

Men

Others

Mashuru

Kiboko

46.4

41.7

16.7

16.7

 

Merueshi

66.7

70.0

10.0

5.0

 

Mashuru

71

72.7

4.6

9.1

 

Emarti

83.3

79.2

8.3

12.5

 

Mean

66.9

65.9

9.9

10.8

Loitoktok

Lenkism

20

73.3

16.7

0

 

Kinama

74.2

68.2

22.8

9.1

 

Oltiasika

36.7

81.8

9.1

9.1

 

Mbirikani

53.3

86.7

6.7

6.7

 

    Mean

46.1

77.5

13.8

6.2


Women owned and controlled chicken use in 65.9% and 72.6% of the households in Mashuru Division while in Loitoktok Division, the women owned and controlled use of chicken in 77.5% and 79.7% of households, respectively.  Chickens were kept mainly for generating income through the sale of chicken and eggs though meat and eggs were also important (Table 2).  However, keeping chicken for egg production was more important than keeping chicken for meat production (Table 2).

Table 2.  Ranking of purpose of keeping chicken
 

Ranking by community

Purpose

Kimana

Mashuru

Mbirikani

Income

1

2

1

Meat

3

3

3

Eggs

2

1

2

Alarm

5

4

6

Tick Control

-

-

5

Medicine

4

-

4

Manure

6

-

-

Consumption of eggs and chicken meat

A large percentage of respondents consumed eggs (87.7%) and chicken meat (85.1%) across the district (Table 3). There was no difference in percentage of individuals eating eggs between sexes (Table 1).  The young (>19years) and the youth (20-39 years) constituted a higher (76%) percentage of those who ate eggs.  

Table 3:  Percentage of respondents who ate eggs and chicken by age group and sex

 

 

<19 years

20-39 years

40-60 years

>60 years

Total

Site

Sex

Eggs

Chicken

Eggs

Chicken

Eggs

Chicken

Eggs

Chicken

Eggs

Chicken

Imbilin

Male

33.2

25.8

10.6

6.37

6.64

5.24

1.33

1.12

51.8

38.6

Female

27.4

19.8

16.8

15.7

3.10

2.25

0.885

0.00

48.2

37.8

 

Kimana

Male

29.2

26.3

18.2

15.4

5.73

5.00

1.56

1.36

54.7

48.2

Female

21.4

19.6

19.3

17.3

3.13

2.27

1.56

0.91

45.3

40.0

Mashuru

Male

28.8

26.3

12.8

11.6

5.76

5.26

2.06

1.88

49.4

45.1

Female

26.8

24.4

16.5

15.0

5.35

4.89

2.06

1.88

50.6

46.2


A large percentage (72.5%) of the respondents ate eggs at home and the rest in the market (Figure 2). There was no difference in the percent of people eating eggs at different venues across the study sites.  Of those who ate eggs in markets, 68.4% were the youth (20-39years) and the middle aged (40-60 years). There was no difference between sexes of those eating eggs at markets across sites.  Just like for egg consumption, majority of those who ate chicken were the young (<19 years) and the youth (20-39 years) (Table 3).

Figure 2. Venue of egg consumption and percent of individuals eating eggs

A higher percent of males than females ate chicken meat within the young, middle aged and the old.  The trend however was different among the youth where a higher percentage of female than male ate chicken.  Over two thirds (72.0%) of the respondents in the study area ate chicken at home (Figure 2).  Most (80.0%) of the young and old (70.0%) ate chicken at home.  However the percentage of the males and females who ate chicken in all the venues was not significantly different.

Figure 3. Venue of chicken meat consumption and percent of individuals eating chicken meat

There were no hotels/eating places within the Maasai towns that served chicken ddishes except for large towns like Emali, Sultan Hamud and Loitoktok.   The main reasons given for non-consumption of either eggs or chicken were culture, allergy, lack of knowledge and lack of opportunity to prepare and eat poultry.  

The market survey established that all the (Four) buyers in Mashuru market were from Makueni District and were buying birds for re-sale.  In all the markets, demand for birds outstripped supply.   Women were the main sellers and sold the birds to buy household provisions, feeds and drugs for the remaining chicken.  Some were also selling as a business enterprise. The mean buying and selling prices and the standard deviation for the various classes of chicken in the market are as shown in Table 4.


Table 4. Mean buying and selling price (Kshs standard deviation) for various classes of chicken in markets in Mashuru Division

 

Cost

Chicken size

Big cock

Small cock

Big hen

Small hen

Buying

184   29.6

125 25

118 17.5

87.5 17.7

Selling

228   42

161 32

155 62

99.2 57.3

The prices were found to match those in other markets outside the District except in Isara but the pastoralists perceived them as low.  All proceeds from sale of chicken and chicken products belonged to women.  The results were similar to those of Ndegwa et al (1998) and Aklilu et al (2007) who showed that chicken production in rural production systems was the domain of women.  However, this study reported over 10% of men in the district slowly getting into chicken production.


Discussion

More young (<19 years and youth (20-39 years) consumed eggs than the middle aged (40-60 years) and the old (>60years) probably because of increasing level of interactions of the young and the youth with other communities in school, colleges and work places, which influence their eating habits.  Homewood (1995) reported changing feeding habits among the Maasai of Kajiado district.  However, the old and especially men, associated keeping and eating of chicken and their products with poverty.  Further, chicken was considered a bird among the Maasai to be eaten by uncircumcised boys and women only.   More female youth (20-39) ate chicken than males probably because most in this age group had basic education and wanted to be independent financially. A higher percent of males than females among the middle aged (40-60 years) and the old (>60years) ate chicken meat because the males were probably more exposed.  In addition, the middle aged female group was among those who introduced chicken in Kajiado District but for income generation and majority still held on to the cultural belief.  The youth however considered chicken just like beef or mutton probably due to increased interactions with other communities.   Religion could have also probably changed the community attitude towards chicken as some churches were training women and youth groups in chicken production.  In addition, Christians have shed traditional practices and so majority of them ate the birds.  


Conclusions and recommendations


Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the support of Director KARI and the Desert Margins Program (DMP) for the funds to carry out the research.  The community for the enthusiasm they showed while participating in the survey. The Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Development (MoLFD) and the Chiefs for organizing the meetings. Thanks to colleagues at KARI Kiboko especially Dr.Gitunu for assisting with the questionnaire.  Lastly, we acknowledge the support of The Centre Director, KARI Kiboko and Mr.Kibet.


References

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ASAL 1990 Kajiado District Atlas. Ministry of Reclamation and Development of Semi -arid Areas and Wastelands, Kajiado, Kenya. 123 pp.

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Kirwa E C, Muthiani E N and Ndathi A J N 2010 Pastoral Chicken Production Trends: The case of Mashuru and Loitoktok Divisions in Kajiado District, Kenya. Livestock Research for Rural Development. Volume 22, article #124 Retrieved July 8, 2010 http://www.lrrd.org/lrrd22/7/chep22124.htm 

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Received 19 July 2010; Accepted 2 December 2010; Published 1 July 2011

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