1.1 Background to the Study
Poultry farming in Nigeria consists of local (backyard) and exotic breeds which are reared under the free range conditions and the intensive systems. The backyard poultry farming constitutes about 84% of total poultry production, while the exotic contributes about 14% to the total poultry production in Nigeria.
Oluyemi and Roberts (2000) observed that the commercialization of poultry farming involving the emergence of large units in urban centres has transformed poultry manure or droppings from an asset to a problem of a complete nuisance in an age where there is much concern with pollution of the environment. It was noted that a layer is estimated to produce about 63–70 kg manure per bird in a year and that every week, 1,000 layers in cages produce 1 ton of manure while on deep litter, they are estimated to produce 30 tons of faecal matter mixed with litter of variable fibre and moisture contents (Oluyemi and Roberts, 2000).
The Health Hazard of Poultry Farming on the Environment
Poultry farming, no doubt is an important aspect of farming as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and other stakeholders all agree that developing the poultry industry in Nigeria is the fastest means of bridging the protein-deficiency gap prevailing in the country. Risk and uncertainty is an inherent feature of modern poultry production. The poultry production decision environment is characterized by risk and the absence of perfect and complete information. The poultry industry in Nigeria has suffered a great deal of losses which affects poultry farmers as well as consumers (Ogoke, 2009). It should be emphasized that many poultry farmers in Nigeria are less equipped to mitigate risks associated with production, consumption, income, assets and their health. This could lead to eventual collapse of poultry industry if intensive and collaborative efforts are not made by government and stakeholders to salvage the situation (Abimbola, et al., 2009). In particular, the failure to rise up to this challenge to saving the industry could lead to a serious reduction in poultry production and protein intake of people. This results into malnutrition and ill health, lower productivity and output (Bamiro et al., 2009).
Generally, poultry production includes breeding, raising, gathering and caring of domestic fowl and collecting their products. It covers any combination of the following duties when raising poultry for eggs and meat: removing chicks from shipping cartoons and placing them in brooder houses, cleaning and disinfecting poultry houses, cages and nests, spreading bedding material, and cleaning droppings from the floor. Others include filling feeders and water, containers, vaccinating via drinking water, injection or dusting of air. Inspecting poultry for diseases and removing weak, ill and dead poultry from flock. In addition there is regular collection, inspection and packing of eggs as well as cleaning adjusting and replacing systems parts using hand tools (Ogoke, 2009).
According to ILO/CIS (2011) such exercises are associated with diverse occupational hazards which can be classified into accident, physical, chemical, biological, psychosocial and economic hazards. Accident Hazards include (a) Sprains and stains from slips, trips and falls when carrying heavy loads (bags of feed), working in congested and slippery areas soiled with excreta (b) Eye and skin irritation from contamination of broken skin or from splashing of irritants, allergens, other hazardous fluids (disinfectants) during vaccination/medicating (in feed/water), mixing of feed, transporting feed/medicines, or spraying vaccines, disinfectants and fumigating agents and (c) burns from exposure to hot surfaces (e.g. incubators, debarking tools).
Physical Hazards on the other hand involves exposure to high noise levels particularly in confinement system, heat exhaustion, heat-induced dermatosis, skin-induced dermatosis and cold exposure due to variable thermal conditions of the year, long outdoor work or high temperature/humidity in confined systems. Chemical Hazards covers (a) Acute and chronic respiratory irritation and diseases from exposure to agricultural dusts.
Agricultural dusts are primary organic (feather, micro-organisms etc), but inorganic dusts, like crystalline silica are also found in confinement house dusts. (b) Immunologically diseases (e.g. rhinopharyngitis, a topical asthma) and hypersensitivity (immediate and delayed) reactions (e.g. extrinsic allergic alveolitis/hypersensitivity pneomonitis) from exposure to dusts (c) Acute and chronic dermal, ocular, and respiratory diseases from exposure to several toxic and asphyxiating gases common especially in confinement systems including ammonia (NH3) released during microbial degradation of manure fermentation and gas flame heaters, other gases include CO, H2S, CH4, SO2 and NOx (manure decomposition and fuel combustion) (d) exposure to disinfectant, detergents, formaldehyde, ammonia, solutions, sodium carbonate and sodium hypochlorite and (e) Formaldehyde, a suspect carcinogen, is often used as a disinfectant is hatcheries and broader house (Abimbola, 2009).
Biological Hazards includes Zoonotic disease and infection naturally transmitted between vertebrate animal and man are common. These include infective agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi (histoplasmosis) rickettsia and other microbes (psihicosis) as well as endotoxins. Ergonomic, Psychosocial and Organization Factors cover back pain and other musculoskeletal problems resulting from over exertion and wrong postures during lifting and moving of animal and feed bags, and shoveling of wastes (Ekong, 2010).
The Health Hazard of Poultry Farming on the Environment
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Local disturbances and landscape degradation are typical local negative amenities in the surroundings of poultry farms. Pollution of soil and water with nutrients, pathogens and heavy metals is generally caused by poor manure-management and occurs where manure is stored. Manure is either recycled on cropland belonging to the animal farm or marketed. Poultry facilities are a source of odor and attract flies, rodents and other pests that create local nuisances and carry disease. Odor emissions, caused by a large number of contributing compounds including ammonia (NH3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hydrogen sulphide (H2S), from poultry farms adversely affect the life of people living in the vicinity and within the environment.
Furthermore, pesticides used to control pests (e.g. parasites and disease vectors) and predators have been reported to cause pollution when they enter groundwater and surface water. Improper disposal of poultry carcasses can contribute to water-quality problems especially in areas prone to flooding or where there is a shallow water table. These situations therefore justify the need for a thorough assessment of existing risks in management of poultry farms. Also, an understanding of how the environments are affected will in due course help in proffering lasting solution in the study area. The above scenario forms the crux of the study.
1.3 Significance of the Study
It is hoped that the findings of this work will assist in identifying the health hazard of poultry farming in the study area. Hence, the findings of this work will serve as a baseline data for health planners in Government of Akwa Ibom State and Itu Local Government in their collaborative efforts to curb the menace of poultry farming on environment. It will educate the poultry farmers in the study area and its environs on the ways of reducing the risk associated with poultry farming.
Academically, this work will serve as reference material to professionals and other researchers who may venture into this area of study.
1.4 Broad Objective
The main objective of this study is to investigate the health hazard of poultry farming on the environment