Assessing survival rates of chicks of indigenous chicken and the factors associated with their survival in Vurra Subcounty, Arua District
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Indigenous chicken are common livestock kept in homesteads in Uganda. However, their numbers per household are low due to frequent deaths. Chicks are always the most affected because of their low immunity and limited ability for self-defence. There is limited information about survival rate and factors associated with their survivability in Vurra sub-county. This was a cross-sectional study employing quantitative methods of data collection. Data from 206 study participants were collected using pre-tested semi-structured questionnaires. Simple random sampling was used to select the study participants. Data was entered in excel then exported to SPSS 20 for analysis. Results were presented in tables, pie-charts and bar graphs. The majority of the study respondents were female (66.0%), (80.1%) stopped in the primary level of education and 63.6% were farmers. The average survival rate of chicks was (62.6%), (48.1%) of the households reported having 5-10 chicks, which were 6 weeks old. (55.3%) reported that about 6-10 chicks die 6 weeks after hatching. Upon bivariate analysis of the factors associated with the survivability of the chicks, purpose of farming, flock size, number of hens and where the birds' sleep was found to be significantly associated with chicks’ survival rate at a 95% confidence interval. Study respondents who were practicing purely subsistence farming were 49% less likely to have high chicks’ survival rates. Those who had a flock size of 21 birds and above were 10.31 more likely to have a high survival rate of chicks, at a 95% confidence interval. Study respondents whose birds slept in the kitchen were 36% less likely to have a high chicks survival rate at a 95% confidence interval. The chick survival rates post-weaning were low in Vurra sub county mainly due to predation and bad weather as only 9.7% of respondents had houses for chicken. No specific poultry improvement activities such as brooding and supplemental feeding was being practiced in the study area. This study was therefore designed to understand the major causes of local chick deaths in Vurra and propose possible solutions to improve local chicken populations and hence improved livelihoods.