Menu ENN Search

Increasing Protein to Poultry

Frances D. Burton (University of Toronto at Scarborough, Dept. of Anthropology) and Peter G. Silverman (Ombudsman, CITY TV, Toronto)


Poultry can be an important source of food following drought and crop failure. Unfortunately, reduced staple crop production also affects the chickens so that they become scrawnier and less able to produce eggs thereby detracting from their potential contribution to human diet. The article below suggests one rather innovative means by which the nutrition of poultry may be safeguarded in times of drought and food scarcity. Eds


...wondering about crude mortality rates among spiders?

Chickens are unable to manufacture 10 necessary amino acids or the B vitamins1. They therefore require a diet high in protein. In addition, they require fats and carbohydrates, and cannot exist on high fibre diets. When NGOs or the FAO have taken a role in the improvement of family poultry farming in the developing world, the diet endorsed is varied, comprised of grains and tubers "for energy" (millet, sorghum, maize, sweet potatoes, and even cassava); meals for protein (sunflower cake, fish meal, cotton seed cake, maize germ, soya cake, meat and bone meal) and vegetables "for vitamins" (green grass, green kale, and cabbage)2 and green seaweed3. The grains are given as a supplement to foraging4 with millet recommended as the best grain for protein supplementation in chickens. Where these are unavailable, leaf meals have been used5, and recent research suggests that the seeds of the Croton tree are valuable in supplying necessary oils and proteins1. In the search for less expensive, natively available food for chickens, recent studies suggest that tobacco seed cakes6, or even molasses from sugar cane residue7, can be reasonably and productively utilised, and that meal from azolla, snails or rice polishings are comparable to maize-soybean meal diets8.

Frances on location in Les Cayes, Haiti

In Haiti, however, farmers often are unable to purchase any form of supplementation for their poultry, relying on the birds to forage for themselves. In addition, water is seldom if ever made available, as the labour to do so where there is not a readily accessible source, precludes it. Where the daily wage is $1.00 US, and the local medical fee $1.50, high quality feed is a luxury. The result is poor production from the poultry both in eggs and meat. During the course of participating with Habitat for Humanity in Les Cayes, Haiti, we developed a solution to the vexing problem of how to increase protein intake to poultry where there is neither sufficient labour to care for them, nor financial resources to provide high quality feed for them. The land thereabouts is steeply sloped, but mostly cleared and grassy, with a few trees, and some shrubs and bushes at the foot. The heat and humidity are high. Chickens are left to find forage wherever they wander. They are thin, muscular and do not contribute greatly to the diet. The project was to build a house of two rooms; the kitchen and toilet would be outside the building. The materials were locally made concrete blocks. The site was compacted clay, laboriously dug by hand for the footings. In the course of constructing the home, we stacked the concrete blocks at the foot of the slope leading to the site for easy access. While the house site and the surrounding grassy area were extremely hot with little shade, the concrete bricks provided an environment that was cool and moist. It became attractive, therefore, as a habitat for a variety of arthropods and small vertebrates. The chickens soon learned to gather when the blocks were removed. The forage provided them with a plentiful and varied diet, high in fats and protein. Insects compare favourably with beef in these nutrients9. One-hundred grams of caterpillars, for example, provide 28.2 gms of protein, 35.5 mg of iron, and 10.8 mg. of three major B vitamins, while 100 gms of lean, ground beef provides 27.4 gms of protein, only 3.5 mg. of iron, and a total of just over 6 mgs. of the three B vitamins. This means of increasing nutrient for chickens requires one or a few concrete blocks, bricks, or large stones. The forage underneath would provide an important source of protein and fats to make a significant difference in size, weight and quality of eggs and meat. This method has the advantage of requiring no assistance from any organisation, nor reallocation of finances to enhance flock value.

For further information contact: Frances Burton, University of Toronto at Scarborough, 1265 Military Trail, Scarborough, Ontario M1C 1A4, Canada. e-mail:

Show footnotes

1Thijssen, Rik. Croton megalocarpus, the poultry-feed tree: how local knowledge could help to feed the world. Domestication and commercialization of non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems. Non-Wood Forest Products 9. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

2Sonaiya, E.B. Rural family poultry in Kenya. INFPD Newsletter Vol. 8 No. 3.

3Zahid, P.B., Aisha, K., Ali, A., 1995. Green seaweed as component of poultry feed. Bangladesh Journal of Botany. 24:(2)153-156 (DEC)

4Dieng, A., Guèye, E.F., Mahoungou-Mouelle N. M. and and A. Buldgen, 1999. Effect of diet and poultry species on feed intake and digestibility of nutrients in Senegal. INFPD Newsletter Vol. 8 No. 3. [INTERNATIONAL NETWORK FOR FAMILY POULTRY DEVELOPMENT].

5Donkoh, A., Atuahene, C.C., Poku-Prempeh, Y.B., and I.G. Twum, 1999. The nutritive value of chaya leaf meal (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius (Mill.) Johnston): studies with broiler chickens. Animal Feed Science and Technology.77:(1-2)163-172 (FEB 15)

6Gonzalez, L.M., Lonwo, E., Perez, N., Gonzalez, J.L., and O. Gutierrez. 1992. Evaluation of Tobacco Seed Cake as Protein-source in Poultry Diet. Cuban Journal of Agricultural Science 26:(2)171-175. (July)

7Waliszewski, K.N., Romero, A., and V.T. Pardio. 1997. Use of cane condensed molasses solubles in feeding broilers. Animal Feed Science and Technology.67:(2-3)253-258 (July).

8Ali, Ma, and S. Leeson. 1995. The Nutritive-value of some Indigenous Asian Poultry Feed. Animal Feed Science and Technology. 55(3-4)227- 237. (Oct).

9Lyon, Wm. F. Insects as Human Food HYG-2160-96. edu/~ohioline/hyg-fact/2000/2160.html

More like this

NEX: A review of kitchen gardens, poultry farms and rabbit rearing aimed at diversifying the diets of Congolese refugees in Rwanda

Esther Ogonda Mcoyoo, Angelot Gashumba, and Berhanu Demeke Esther is the Public Health Advisor with World Vision Rwanda. Angelot Gashumba is the Humanitarian and Emergency...

FEX: The experience of multi-storey gardens in Ethiopian refugee camps

By Mulugeta WTsadik An example of gardening in a camp setting Mulugeta WTsadik is food security and nutrition officer with UNHCR Ethiopia since 2004. She has a degree in rural...

en-net: Food groups to assess diet diversity

Hi all I see a similar question has been posted previously and been left unanswered, so I am going to re-post in the hopes there is someone who can advise on the best course...

en-net: Food groups to assess diet diversity

Hi all I have posted this question in the IYCF area but on Mark's suggestion will also post here in case it is picked up by anyone else. I have come across 2 classifications...

en-net: Is it possible to add skimmed milk powder to Hyderabad Mix?

In India, Government permission to use RUTF in the management of SAM is yet to be given. Hence, we are using a locally produced wheat - gram - groundnut powder plus oil. This...

FEX: Designing a food plate for dietary counselling of pregnant women in Bangladesh

By Abu Ahmed Shamim, Kathrin Tegenfeldt, Kerry Aradhya, Tarana Ferdous, Nasrin Banu, Sumitra Roy, Raisul Haque, Saydur Rahman Siddiquee, Mosiqure Rahman and Nazma Shaheen Abu...

en-net: One Meat/Fish/Poultry/Egg indicator?

Can Organ Meats/Fish/Poultry/Eggs be combined into one "Animal protein" indicator for calculating dietary diversity in Children (IYCF indicator)? The IYCF indicator guidelines...

The role of nutrition-sensitive agriculture in improving diets of young children: Homestead food production in Nepal

View this article as a pdf Rojee Suwal is the Senior Manager of Agriculture and Food Security in the Suaahara II programme, Helen Keller International, Nepal. Basu Dev Kafle...

FEX: Understanding access to nutritious food by poor urban pregnant women and lactating mothers and their children in Kisumu, Kenya

By Albertien van der Veen, Rik Delnoye and Femke van der Lee Albertien van der Veen is an experienced public health nutritionist/epidemiologist and team-leader of the urban...

FEX: Wild Foods — Blessing or Burden?

Caroline Gullick recently completed an MSc project looking at different aspects of wild foods. The field research was conducted amongst the Dinka (Monjeng) Tribe of Northern...

FEX: Don’t let them eat cake

By Susanne Jaspars Susane Jaspers is a Nutritionist specialising in emergency nutrition, food aid and food security. This article is based on her experiences in Albania and...

FEX: Is extrusion cooking of blended foods really advantageous?

Published Paper Blended food used in a supplementary feeding programme, Pavarando Camp, Colombia. 1998 H. Timmermans (UNHCR) Blended foods prepared by mixing a cereal flour,...

en-net: Soybean Oil vs. Palm Oil provision

My inquiry relates to the use of soybean oil vs. palm oil. My organization has tasked me with looking into the health implications of switching from soybean oil (which we...

Combining a mid-day meal, health service package and peer support in Karnataka State, India

Combining a mid-day meal, health service package and peer support in Karnataka State, India View this article as a pdf Uma Mahadevan is Principal Secretary in the...

FEX: Persistent Micronutrient Problems among Refugees in Nepal

by Janack Upadhyay This article describes nutritional aspect of emergency food aid in Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal; the author was regional Food & Nutrition...

FEX: Weekly menu for midday meal in Bangladeshi schools: Caregivers’ choices

By Abu Ahmed Shamim, Jannaty Mayna, Ishrat Jahan, Syed Muntasir Ridwan and Rudaba Khondker View this article as a pdf Abu Ahmed Shamim is the Nutrition Advisor (Consultant)...

en-net: Use of half strength infant formula instead of F75 Formula

Hi All I am currently working as a Dietitian Advisor to the Samoan NHS. A current practice in the Paediatric ward for infants ranging from about 6 months to 2 years,...

FEX: Improving minimum dietary diversity for children aged 6-23 months when household affordability is a major constraint in northeast Bangladesh.

View this article as a pdf By Md Masud Rana, Sheikh Shahed Rahman, Md Al-Amin Shovan, Bazlul Kabir Joarder and Mohammad Raisul Haque Md Masud Rana is a nutrition advisor for...

NEX: UN Decade of Action on Nutrition: Brazil, Ecuador and Italy make commitments

View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Trudy Wijnhoven is a Nutrition Officer and the technical focal point for the UN Decade of Action on...

FEX: Mainstreaming nutrition in a school-based feeding programme in northeast Nigeria

By Greg Sclama View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici Gregory Sclama is an Assistant Professor of International Development and Economics at the...


Reference this page

Frances D. Burton and Peter G. Silverman (1999). Increasing Protein to Poultry. Field Exchange 8, November 1999. p11.



Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.