Notes to broadcasters
In Mali, nearly 80% of people live in rural areas and rely on growing crops, raising livestock, and fishing. Raising chickens is part of their daily routine. The birds breed quickly, are easy to feed, and bring a profit. Chickens are a “mobile bank” for villagers in Mali; the money they receive from selling poultry helps them cover occasional family expenses.
One of the main challenges with raising chickens is diseases. A large percentage (70-80%) of young chicks die before they are a few months old. And death from disease is common in adult birds as well. One of the most common diseases is fowl pox.
In this script, we meet Barma Ly, the head of a nomadic Fulani household in the Sahel, in the area which separates Mali from Mauritania. Mr. Ly, whose family mainly lives by raising livestock, manages fowl pox with natural medicine and fights to protect a breed of local chicken which he has known for years. But, since Mr. Ly’s medicine cannot solve all problems related to fowl pox, a livestock expert named Drissa Ouattara explains effective treatments for three types of fowl pox. Mr. Ouattara also urges poultry farmers to use hygiene measures such as regularly cleaning henhouses, complying with the vaccination calendar, disinfecting water and feed, and managing pests with effective products.
You might choose to present this script as part of your regular farming program, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use this script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on managing fowl pox, other chicken diseases, or similar topics in your country.
Talk to farmers and experts who raise chickens or are knowledgeable about the birds. You might ask them:
- What role does poultry farming play in your area?
- What are the major chicken disease challenges in your area? Is fowl pox common?
- What solutions have farmers and other experts found for fowl pox?
- Is there a natural remedy for this disease?
- How can fowl pox best be prevented?
Apart from speaking directly to farmers and other key players in the local agriculture sector, you could use these questions as the basis for a phone-in or text-in program.
Estimated running time for this item is 20-25 minutes, including intro and outro.
Intensive production of imported “broilers and layers” is not affordable for all farmers. Since the quality of these birds is sometimes considered poor by some Malian experts, farmers who do not have enough resources must be careful.
We travelled to Niono, a town in northwest Mali in the fourth region of the country. There, the nomadic Peuhl ethnic group, whose livelihood is based on farming and raising livestock, is fighting to preserve the traditional, endangered breed of chicken. On a fine morning, we made a trip to the Peuhl camp in Tina, a haven for livestock.
Tina is a camp in the Molodo department, about 360 kilometres northeast of Bamako, the capital of Mali. The Peuhl nomadic people who live here move every year after the rainy season, in search of water and pastureland. Families move with all their cattle, sheep, goats, and poultry.
We are in a seasonal camp of about 30 straw huts that look like upgraded tents. But the place is almost empty. There are only a few old people and children wandering amongst nursing calves. Women are taking care of housekeeping and preparing to cook. We will first meet an old farmer who, from all appearances, should have more experience raising chickens than many of his neighbours.
And it never stops; we have clients coming to us from everywhere. People come to buy and then resell.
Sales are not continuous; I sell only once in a while. But I earn everything I need just by selling a small number of my chickens. This income allows me to pay for health problems, trouble with local authorities, or even food problems in case the annual harvest fails.
I have three hectares of rice in the Molodo region. Ploughing costs, transplanting costs, other labour costs, and input costs for this land—all this is paid for by my chicken sales. That’s worth something to a farmer.
The only secret with farafin chè is that, when the hens lay eggs, you should never give them to another species like a guinea fowl, a duck, or a turkey to raise. This is what many people do, believing that it will allow the hen to lay eggs again within a short time.
But this is not good. It causes many chicks to die after hatching, and they often have health problems. Even if the chicks survive, not being raised by a hen can delay their growth and development. Chicks have a tremendous need for a hen’s body heat, which helps them resist climatic and nutritional challenges during their first 40 days of life.
When you see a hen that produces only a few chicks that survive, you should start by improving its diet. If that doesn’t solve the problem, the problem stems from the fact that, as a chick, it did not get enough body heat to meet its needs. Most chicks cannot survive that situation. I have been doing this job for 17 years, and so I think that I understand many things.
For instance, apart from the two main diseases that we experience here every year, in the beginning and at the end of the winter, there are quite a few factors, which put a lot of strain on us.
First, women here use a product that they call poroni, which is more toxic than poison. It looks like fertilizer or granulated sugar, and it also looks like cereal grains sometimes. The women mix it with djabi (Editor’s note: henna) to blacken their feet and their hands during celebrations. Sometimes, after using poroni, they leave some grains on the ground without noticing. As soon as chickens eat these, thinking they are cereal, it’s over. A deathly and contagious disease breaks out on the spot. The disease can spread to almost all the poultry on a farm.
Also, we use a powder against rats and insects which is as toxic as poroni. We put a small amount in water and place some in hidden corners of the house or in the yard. When a chicken swallows that water, that’s it—havoc begins.
The best way to control the adverse effects of this poisonous product is educate farmers more so that they can use the product safely.
Some people say they came from Senegal on the train that carries merchandise from Dakar to Bamako. It is a race of rats that feeds only on chicks. We kill some, but it’s not enough.
It is important to track the rats down and destroy their habitat.
Finally, there are external parasites, but that problem is not as serious. As soon as we notice them, we start disinfecting the henhouses and the chickens by treating the walls of the henhouse with petrol or gasoline every night.
People sometimes say that foro comes because of the temperature during the cold season, but I can confidently say that this is not the case. As soon as we notice it in one or two chickens, we buy remedies for the diseases. We mix them with the appropriate vitamins and with a certain amount of water that the chickens can swallow any time. We also give them injections.
My neighbours sometimes ask me what treatment I give to my poultry, and I tell them. But one must choose the right way of doing it. I do my injections in the thighs; that’s the only secret.
Oh—I had forgotten to mention another treatment for foro. Can you see that tree over there—the one that’s about one metre high? Here, we call it bangoyo. It is a tree we use we treat fowl pox.
It has never had an impact on my sales because it’s a disease that customers know very well. Most of my buyers are poultry traders, but there are also simple consumers who come from everywhere throughout the year, from Niono and Bamako and other cities. I have one very loyal client who has now become a good friend. He doesn’t need to travel since he’s in the area; he just gives me a phone call to order the number of chickens he wants, and I send them by bus.
Sometimes, I am not able to sell all my chickens on time because I don’t know the chicken market very well yet. Often, when we sell the birds very quickly, it gives us hope that things will be better. But the following week the market starts to slow down again. It is this instability that sometimes troubles us.
The biggest challenges are the diseases, especially diseases like foro, that specialists call fowl pox, and Newcastle. Personally, I don’t really know how to deal with the diseases. I tried all the recommended treatments, but they really don’t do anything. I even took advice from Barma, but it didn’t help. Sometimes, I tell myself that it’s a matter of place or climate. You can see chickens everywhere in nature and they’re very healthy. Back home in the village, you need to spend a lot of money on treatments to keep the birds healthy. That’s the way it is, and we just deal with it.
It’s also important to build a brooding house, make brooder stoves, provide good food, respect the recommended vaccination and treatment schedule, and heat houses if they are not sufficiently warm. It’s especially important that the building is warm—about 24-27 degrees in the first few days of life. After that, the farmer should very slowly lower the temperature until it’s 18-21 degrees by five weeks old.
These signs are classified into three categories. The first is the cutaneous form. In this form, the bird has spots on the head, the beak, the legs, and the whole body. This form rarely kills chickens.
The second is called the diphtheritic form. In this form, the bird hassmall white wounds in the mouth, on the surface of the tongue, and in the upper part of the mouth and throat. These form large nodules that can stop food intake, and kill the bird by blocking its airway. This form is rare, but more lethal than the cutaneous form. Most of the time, this form comes along with an infection of the mucous membrane. This infection is what causes the high rate of death.
In the mixed form, the chicken has both kinds of symptoms. The rate of death is quite high in this form.
Fowl pox appears when the birds are between 0 and 8 weeks old.
To prevent the disease, farmers must follow recommended hygiene measures by cleaning the houses every day and regularly disinfecting water and food containers. They must also control biting and sucking insects, such as flies, ants, and spiders, and also external parasites. In general, they need to fight the virus with all available means. Good hygiene allows the farmer to maintain and improve chickens’ living conditions. This ensures good health, housing, diet, reproduction, and general well-being.
Good hygiene is the key to any success in raising poultry, but immunization remains the most effective way to fight fowl pox. People typically say that “prevention is better than cure.” The basic idea is to do regular immunizations.
prevent it. This vaccine is administered once a year.
My advice to farmers is that, when they have trouble on their poultry farm, they should always consult with a veterinary technician or veterinarian who is qualified on the matter. This is very important, because poultry farming is a very complex area, and it is so sensitive that you can lose your whole investment with the smallest mistake.
Most importantly, some farmers ignore the fact that not coordinating treatments can build resistance to the vaccine in the future, which could make birds vulnerable to infections from other viruses or incurable poultry diseases. So, in order to avoid jeopardizing everything in the future, it is wise to maintain the appropriate standards for treatment and care.
Dear listeners, through the voices of our different contributors, we learned about fowl pox, one of the two main diseases that break out annually in northeast Mali, specifically in the Molodo area.
Nomadic Peuhl farmers and livestock breeders living in the area fight fowl pox by following advice from technicians about vaccination and hygiene, and also by using the fruit of bangoyo, a small Sahelian tree that grows during the rainy season.
We learnt about the negative impacts of fowl pox, how it manifests itself, how it is spread, and about the appropriate preventive treatments. Most importantly, we learned about its impact on the rural world, and the activities of the livestock keepers, buyers, and resellers.
We thank you for listening to the show and invite you to join us for our next show, when we will focus on another important theme in the rural world.
Thank you for your kind attention and see you soon.
Contributed by: Boubacar Gakou, filmmaker, Bamako, Mali
Reviewed by: Moussa Koné, Head of Livestock Industry Unit, Local Service of Animal Products (SLPIA), Bougouni, Mali