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Aim: Mycotoxins are prevalent in animal feeds and agricultural products. These toxins are produced by fungi and once incorporated in the substrate, are not easy to eradicate. They are associated with morbidity and mortality in both livestock and humans. Avoiding contamination is the preferred way of mitigating mycotoxins in livestock feeds and cereals.
Study Design: A purposive multiple-stage survey design was used in this study.
Place and Duration of Study: Between February and March 2016 to assess factors that exacerbate mycotoxins due to feed type and handling practice by smallholder farmers in farmer groups keeping indigenous chicken in Western Kenya.
Methodology: Three counties Siaya, Busia and Kakamega of Kenya were selected based on the population of indigenous chicken. Semi-structured questionnaires were used in gathering data on feed types, handling practices and mycotoxins awareness from 180 farmers in women and youth groups.
Results: Common feed types identified included maize (96%), sorghum (54%), cassava (42%), millet (40%), homemade rations (16%), while 44% used commercial feeds. It was noted that 38% use rotten, insect-infested, unsorted and broken cereals and 62% clean cereals as feeds. For storage, 85% and 7% of farmers were using polypropylene and hermetic bags, respectively; 97% dried their grains/feeds on a platform; 21% were not sorting their grains and 17% were not using grain preservatives during storage. Mycotoxin awareness levels were assessed among farmers. Approximately 44% of farmers were unaware of feed safety while 71% were aware of mycotoxins; however, 73% of participants were unaware of dangers posed by mycotoxin contamination in feeds.
Conclusion: Information to farmers on mycotoxin and proper feed and cereals handling and storage practices is necessary for mycotoxin management. Therefore, avoiding contamination is a preferred method of mitigating mycotoxins in indigenous chicken feeds and cereals.
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