Optimising commercial feed production locally would boost the productivity of Sierra Leone’s poultry industry, according to a report by Invest Salone, the UK-government funded private sector development initiative.
The report, Poultry Feed Sector Assessment, states that local and regional demand for chicken and chicken products presents significant investment opportunities in Sierra Leone’s poultry sector, if challenges – particularly concerning poultry feed – are tackled.
The report draws upon first-hand research within Sierra Leone and examines how other regional markets have solved constraints such as feed costs, poor-quality local chicks, lack of vaccines and reduced veterinarian capacity. It concludes that “exciting opportunities exist to avoid the costly mistakes made in other regions by adopting industry best practices now.”
With poultry feed accounting for 65–70% of production costs, and the most important factor affecting performance, production and profitability, the need for improving local poultry feed production is addressed in detail in the report. The report includes clear guidelines on formulating feed to regional and international standards. It advises transitioning away from animal-protein-based poultry feed, which is expensive when imported and can be unhygienic when locally sourced – creating the risk of contamination. Instead, the report suggests corn- (maize-) and soya-based diets as an alternative, adding that reliable local commercial feed production would help address inefficient on-farm feed production.
Additional recommendations for improving the quality of poultry feed include creating a database of locally and regionally available raw materials; analysing existing local raw materials to establish a baseline for future use; identifying regional and international nutritionists who can provide feed formulation services to local feed producers; and working with local universities to identify potential candidates to be trained in animal feed nutrition.
The report also identifies additional challenges such as a need for quality day-old chicks, vaccines and veterinary services, and looks at how partnerships with local training institutions, regional consultants, international genetics suppliers and veterinary suppliers could contribute to local knowledge and modern poultry husbandry practices.
Invest Salone consultant, Sally Brunton, says that with significantly increasing demand for poultry meat and eggs in Africa, the outlook for the poultry industry is positive. “The potential of Sierra Leone’s poultry sector remains untapped and chicken poultry production is low in comparison to other producers,” she adds. “However, by modernising poultry production through improved feed, healthcare and other inputs, Sierra Leone’s poultry farmers would be well placed to benefit from rapidly rising local and regional demand for chicken meat and eggs.”