Continued high maize costs have forced African poultry farmers to scale back production and search for feed alternatives, according to producers

Maize prices have increased threefold since the end of 2010, raising the price of chick mash from Sh2,700 (US$28.97) per 70kg bag to Sh3,500 (US$37.55). “Chicken feed accounts for 70% of the total input cost, so if the feed prices go up, the input costs will automatically increase," said Wairimu Kariuki, chairperson of the Kenya Poultry Farmers Association. "If a farmer cannot meet the costs, he chooses to either reduce the number of chicken he rears or stop poultry farming altogether.” 

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Many farmers have turned to alternative feed sources, such as amaranth, millet or sorghum, which have helped reduce their costs by up to 40%, according to the farmers. Researchers at the University of Nairobi are also studying non-traditional options such as pigeon peas, leaf meals and agricultural byproducts as possible protein supplements.