1.1 Background Information
The role of agriculture in the country’s economy cannot be overemphasized. Prior to the oil boom period in the mid-1970’s, it had been the largest foreign exchange earner for the country. It has evolved from just a means of livelihood to a business for not only are modern techniques of production employed, but also the most sophisticated management and marketing techniques.
Agriculture therefore is a wide discipline and poultry keeping is just one industry in the agricultural set-up (Okafor, 1984).
The main domesticated avians contributing in one way or the other to the economy of Nigeria are the domestic fowl, guinea fowls, turkeys, ducks, geese, pheasants and pigeons. The usefulness of these species are many and there are little or no religious, cultural and social barriers or prejudices to their rearing or use of their parts and products in Nigeria (Izunobi, 2002).
The level of animal protein intake in Nigeria represents only about 10% of the intake in countries like Denmark, U.S.A., New Zealand and the United Kingdom (Akin, 1976). According to Izunobi (2002), of the protein intake in Nigeria, poultry meat supplies only about 20% of the total meat needs of Nigerians. This is grossly inadequate. Chicken contains quality proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, multitude of
vitamins, minerals and pigments. They also possess natural aroma and flavor compounds. Eggs are excellent food, possessing quality proteins of high biological values (Izunobi, 2002). Egg, a product of the industry, gives about 3.5g of the total 7.2g animal protein required for individual dietary need per day
(Adene and Oguntade,, 2006).
The poultry industry provides employment opportunity for the teeming population. The industry, if desired attention is paid to it by government at all levels, can successfully absorb a large number of unemployed youths across the country, currently roaming about in search of unavailable jobs, through its chain of agro-allied industry; commercial feed and toll milling, poultry products processing, poultry-marketing, veterinary pharmaceutical, hatchery operation and breeder farming (Eko, 2009). In addition, the industry, if properly harnessed, can also serve as source of foreign earnings, complementing the crude oil – the main source of foreign earnings presently which is responsible for over 90 percent of our exports. (Adene and Oguntade, 2006).
According to Ali (2011), since 1986, Nigeria’s import ban on corn has contributed to steady decline in poultry production. He also observed that Nigerian poultry market had seen prosperous times. For two decades after the country achieved independence in 1960, poultry production grew, peaking in 1982 with 40 million commercially reared birds. Since then, he also stated, the population of birds dipped steadily reaching an estimated low rate of 6 million in 1997. Furthermore, Ali added that since production figures for poultry were not maintained by the government, the only way to estimate the number was by the amount of feed sold. In 1997, an estimated 225,000 metric tonnes of commercial poultry feed was sold in the Nigerian market down from 250,000 tonnes in 1995.
The feed milling industry in Nigeria is only producing at about 15 percent of capacity (Ali, 2011). This faltering market can be traced back to the early 1980’s, when the Nigerian economy collapsed. An unstable government import bans and intervention efforts by the World Bank caused price realignments that weakened purchasing power and pushed up the cost of poultry inputs and products. Poultry feeds are animal feed used to feed poultry birds. They are formulated from a mixture of ingredients, including cereal grains, cereal byproducts, fats, plant protein sources, animal protein sources and by-products, vitamin and mineral supplements, crystalline amino acids and feed additives compounded in such a way as to provide essential nutrients for sustaining optimum growth and production. Poultry feed is a poultry input and its demand is derived from the demand for the poultry and/or its products. Poultry feeds are