Book Review: Practical Skills on Backyard Poultry Production in India

GALVmed has been working on Newcastle Disease control in India for a while now. Together with our partners, have amassed a wealth of information on this devastating poultry disease that can wipe entire flocks during outbreaks. ND control is an important aspect of our work because chickens not only provide much needed nutrition but for many small-scale livestock producers, chickens provide access to family income. Alongside other small animals like goats and sheep, chickens are often nicknamed “ATMs” because they are convenient sources of cash.

In the tribal regions of Orissa, GALVmed worked with local partners to vaccinate birds against ND. These were accompanied by rigorous awareness creation activities and strengthening the vaccine supply chain so that small-scale farmers who needed the vaccine could easily access them. After a period of time, we started to get reports of ND outbreaks reducing and number of birds increasing. This change translated into economic and social benefits for small-scale producers. The livestock producers were now more likely to deal with other challenges such as lack of adequate space to house their ever-increasing flock, birds being preyed on by wild animals and other diseases such as Fowl Pox.

The wealth of information we have acquired together with our partners has been documented in various platforms including peer-reviewed journals that you can find in our database. One that I would like to highlight is a book written by a long-term partner and consultant for GALVmed, Dr Kornel Das. In the book, Practical Skills on Backyard Poultry Production in India, Dr Kornel has documented small-scale producers’ backyard poultry problems and solutions – from suitable breeds to alternate and low-cost housing and feeding and important diseases and their management. The book provides useful training guidelines for rural poultry vaccinators with just a few days of training. It is also a useful resource for veterinarians, paraprofessionals, poultry keepers as well as planners. Moreover, it is based on the experience and context of small-scale livestock producers.

In his experience, Dr Kornel has been working with tribal poultry keepers for many years on low-cost, high impact technologies including low-cost housing for birds, feeders and drinkers made from locally available materials such as bamboo and alternative source of bird food like azolla and white ant. Once regular vaccination against ND and Fowlpox as well as deworming were introduced, livestock producers started to see the benefits and gradually adapted to these new practices. Dr Kornel documents all that knowledge in this book which is also available in Hindi and Orissa.

All those who work in poultry health and production especially in south Asia will find this resource useful.

Blog written by Peetambar Kushwaha as part of the Poultry Health Campaign

Plucking feathers: Could needle-free immunisation methods boost the fight against Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox?

Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox are amongst the most important constraints on the production of poultry in rural communities of many low to middle-income countries, and clearly efforts must be geared towards educating and involving farmers to control these diseases.

To provide a vaccination approach for Fowl Pox and Newcastle disease, that can be easily adopted by small-scale farmers, a field study was conducted by GALVmed together with the Open University of Tanzania in 2018. The researchers investigated the immune responses of chickens to Fowl Pox and Newcastle disease vaccines, when administered at the same time by needle-free routes. For this approach, the Fowl Pox vaccine was administered via feather follicles and the Newcastle disease vaccine via eye. The feather follicle method is long known and also used to vaccinate pigeons against pigeon pox. Basically, a group of feathers is plucked from a bird’s thigh and a vaccine-dipped brush rubbed inside the openings of the exposed holes of the feather follicles. The birds are then inspected 7 to 10 days later for “takes”. “Takes” are nodules that occur at the inoculation site and indicate successful vaccination. The study results showed that the non-invasive concurrent vaccination is safe and induces immunisation levels to Fowl Pox and Newcastle disease that are as good as to vaccinations alone.

Following the study in Tanzania, GALVmed aimed to confirm if the same approach works in a different geographic setting in South-East Asia. However, this was not as straightforward as we hoped for. Amongst the complications we faced between 2018 to 2021 were: a devastating cyclone, interruptions due to local elections, difficult terrain, seasonal challenges, and last but not least the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet against all odds and obstacles, GALVmed in partnership with Heifer Project Nepal have now successfully completed the field work in twelve rural communities in Goganpani in Dhading District in the Bagmati Province of Nepal. The team is currently analysing the data and hopes to publish their findings as soon as possible, wishing that the needle-free immunisation methods will empower small-scale poultry producers by making them less dependent on para-vets or vets for Newcastle disease and Fowl Pox vaccinations.

Village level project orientation meeting at Kattalpauwa

Blog written by Kristin Stuke as part of the Poultry Health Campaign