Semi-Scavenging in Poultry Farming: Benefits and Challenges in Nepal

10 March, 2023 By:SB Group

Poultry farming is an important industry in Nepal, providing employment and income to many farmers; one type of poultry farming that has gained popularity in recent years is semi-scavenging.

Research provided by the Global Journal of Animal Scientific Research state, “Poultry sector is an emerging industry in Nepal with two distinct patterns of poultry production-intensive and scavenging. Scavenging poultry is widely prevalent in rural areas, and nearly 45% of the total poultry population comprises the native flock, and 55% of poultry birds account for commercial poultry.”

Semi-Scavenging in Poultry

Poultry Farm (Source: Flickr)

Semi-scavenging is a feeding system for small poultry flocks under partly controlled management where the scavenged feed accounts for a substantial part of the total feed consumed.

This feeding system allows poultry birds to forage for insects, seeds, and other natural food sources. At the same time, supplementary feed is also provided to ensure optimal growth, health, and productivity.

This article will explore semi-scavenging, including this feeding system’s benefits, challenges, and best practices.  

Benefits of Semi-Scavenging

Semi-scavenging is a technique that can be used in poultry farming to provide birds with a more natural and sustainable environment. The following are some of the advantages of using semi-scavenging in poultry farming:

Improved Health and Welfare of Chickens

To improve their physical and mental well-being and reduce the risk of diseases and infections from crowded living quarters and cloudy conditions, semi-scavenging enables chickens to walk around freely and engage in natural behaviors like foraging, dust bathing, and sunbathing.

Furthermore, semi-scavenging can promote better animal welfare. The habitat for poultry birds can be made more engaging and natural by allowing them to engage in their normal foraging behavior, enhancing their general well-being and lowering their stress levels.

Higher Quality and Nutritious Meat and Eggs

When chickens eat insects, grass, and other flora, they get a balanced diet which results in meat and eggs that are more nutrient-rich and flavorful. In addition, semi-scavenging allows for a more varied diet which can result in more delicious and healthy products.

Another advantage of semi-scavenging is improving the nutritional quality of poultry meat and eggs. Chickens find a variety of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, when they are free to forage for natural food sources. This can result in poultry products that are more nutritious and flavorful.

Environmental Sustainability

Semi-scavenging reduces the environmental impact of poultry farming by allowing chickens to graze and forage in natural environments. This may result in less waste and pollution, eventually making the land fertile and less feed, water, and energy resource consumption.

Cost Efficient

One of the critical benefits of semi-scavenging is cost savings. By allowing poultry birds to scavenge for some of their food requirements, the amount of feed required to be provided by the poultry farmers can be reduced, resulting in lower costs. This can be particularly beneficial for small-scale poultry farmers with limited financial resources.  

Challenges of Semi-Scavenging

While semi-scavenging has many benefits, several challenges are also associated with this feeding system.

Predation and Theft

The risk animals like wild dogs, foxes, hawks, and other predators can eat or kill the free-roaming chickens. In addition, thieves can steal chickens, leading to significant losses for farmers.

Contamination and Diseases

Another challenge of semi-scavenging is the risk of disease transmission. The risk of coming in touch with parasites or other harmful microorganisms that can lead to illnesses is high when chickens search for food. This may be highly dangerous in places with poor sanitation or high viral infection rates.

Semi-scavenging can increase the risk of contamination and diseases, mainly if the outdoor environment is not managed correctly. Especially in Nepal, the feeding area of chickens will be the field where they come into contact with pesticides, urine, and other pollutants leading to the development of infections and diseases can develop in chickens.

Cost and Management

Finally, semi-scavenging can be more labor-intensive than other feeding systems. Farmers need to monitor the birds’ foraging behavior and provide supplementary feed as needed, which can require more time and effort than simply providing a complete feed.

Implementing a semi-scavenging system requires additional resources and management, such as adequate shelter fencing and supervision. Managing outdoor systems can increase the cost and workload for farmers, especially for those who lack experience.

Having Adequate Nutrition

One of the main challenges is ensuring that poultry birds receive adequate nutrition. Scavenged feed alone cannot meet the birds’ dietary requirements, as they need additional nutrients. This is especially true in Nepal, where some places have few natural food sources, where poultry birds could have difficulty getting all the food they require.

Best Practices for Semi-Scavenging

To ensure the success of a semi-scavenging system, farmers should follow some best practices. These include:

Select the Right Breeds

Not all chicken breeds are suitable for semi-scavenging systems. Farmers should select hardy, adaptable species with good foraging abilities.

Provide Adequate Space and Shelter

Poultry birds require adequate shelter from predators, adverse weather conditions, and other environmental factors. Farmers should provide suitable housing that meets their birds’ needs.

To ensure adequate protection from predators and adverse weather conditions, we should provide chickens with well-managed indoor and outdoor spaces. Good shelters, such as shade structures and roosting areas, should also be provided.

Manage the Environment

Farmers should create an environment that encourages poultry birds to engage in their daily foraging habits. We should handle the outside environment effectively to lower the danger of disease and contamination.

Although it will aid Nepali Farmers in fertilizing their land, this also includes adequate waste management, routine cleaning and disinfection of the outdoor spaces, and restricting access to wild animals and other potential sources of contamination.

Supplement with Feed

To ensure that poultry birds have access to adequate food resources, farmers should manage the size of their flocks based on the available natural food sources. Semi-scavenging should be supplemented with a balanced and nutritious feed to ensure that chickens receive all the nutrients for growth and health.

Farmers should provide high-quality supplementary feed that meets their dietary requirements to ensure that poultry birds receive adequate nutrition. Protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals, and many other vital elements, should include in a well-balanced feed.

Monitor and Evaluate Performance

Farmers should look out for sickness symptoms in their flocks and take the appropriate procedures to prevent the spreading infectious diseases. This may include improving sanitation practices, implementing biosecurity measures, and providing vaccinations.

Farmers should routinely assess the effectiveness of their semi-scavenging system, including the production and health of their hens and the system’s overall cost-effectiveness.