There are limited data on production and financial performance of the rural poultry sector in developing countries like Zambia that could be used by extension services as a feedback loop to enhance service delivery in the sector. Thus, a study that used production and financial data obtained from poultry farmers of Eastern Zambia was conducted to describe the rural poultry sub-sector and conduct financial analysis. It compared the financial performance of indigenous chicken production to broiler and layer production. The aim of the study was to identify opportunities and knowledge gaps among poultry farmers that could be used to initiate and enhance a participatory extension approach and build capacity of farmers in the sector. Descriptive, spatial, gross margin and breakeven analysis was used to analyse data obtained from 459 rural poultry farmers and expert opinion from 5 local extension workers.
Poultry ranked highest in terms of popularity and numbers when compared with other animals kept by respondents (median = 20). Most poultry were kept under free-range and brood an average of 3.1 clutches. Except for annual set up costs, some variable costs and household poultry consumption, the study could obtain data on most production costs and income generated from poultry farmers. Nevertheless, gross margin analysis conducted using costing data from poultry farmers and expert opinion of extension workers revealed that indigenous chicken enterprises had the highest gross margin percentage of 72% compared to commercial broilers and layers which had gross margin percentages of 53% and 56% respectively. Breakeven analysis revealed that indigenous chickens required the lowest number of products to be sold (27) to realise profit compared to broilers (1011) and layers (873). The study justifies investment into the rural poultry sub-sector and discusses the use of gross margin templates as a means of incentivising rural farmers to participate in extension programmes.