Village chicken flock dynamics and the contribution of chickens to household livelihoods in a smallholder farming area in Zimbabwe

Trop Anim Health Prod. 2005 May;37(4):333-44. doi: 10.1007/s11250-005-5082-5.


The development of successful production strategies for poultry rearing depends on an accurate description of village chicken production systems. In Rushinga District of Zimbabwe, participatory rural appraisals (PRAs) followed by checklists and intensive case studies were carried out in three villages. The role of chickens in the livelihoods of households was evaluated. Flock dynamics were monitored monthly for 24 months. Women who were resident on the farm headed 19% of the households. A household comprised 4.8 +/- 2.5 members with arable land of approximately 2.6 ha. In addition to chickens, households grew maize, cotton and sunflower and kept large animals. Flocks ranging from 1 to 50 village chickens per household were reared under a scavenging system of management with suboptimal housing, inadequate feeding and poor health care. The use of ethno-veterinary medicine was common in treating sick chickens. The largest flock sizes were observed in the hot-wet season. Over 90% of an average of 5.4 entries/household per month were from hatched chicks. Mortality claimed an average of 80% of the total exits. Chicken production potential (CPP), which defined the proportion of chickens that could be utilized by a household, averaged 50%. Chicken production efficiency (CPE) was approximately 15% of the CPP. Egg consumption patterns were low and similar across seasons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / economics*
  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animals
  • Chickens / growth & development*
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Population Dynamics
  • Rural Population
  • Seasons
  • Zimbabwe