Habesha and crossbreed chickens, Oromia.
Endline report: EthioChicken Impact Evaluation - 6 MB
EthioChicken is a private company that breeds high-productivity chickens and sells them to smallholder farmers in Ethiopia. EthioChicken distributes chickens through its network of agents (who in Oromia grow chickens from one day old to 56 days before distributing) and government agricultural extension agents who take orders and deliver chickens to smallholder farmers.
EthioChicken makes two breeds available: Bovans layers and Sasso dual-purpose birds. Both breeds are expected to grow four times faster and produce four times as many eggs as traditional Ethiopian backyard birds,1 while also being able to grow and develop in the local environment. These higher-productivity birds have the potential to increase household income and provide sources of animal protein for consumption. As women are primarily responsible for raising chickens in Ethiopia, higher productivity chickens could also lead to increased decision-making power for women.
This report presents the results of an impact evaluation of providing access to improved chickens, leveraging EthioChicken’s expansion into the state of Oromia in Ethiopia. It studies the short-term impact of owning improved chickens on smallholders’ income, nutrition, and female decision-making roughly 6-14 months after purchasing improved chickens. To identify the causal effect of owning improved chickens, we match purchasers of improved chickens with households who did not have access to these chickens. The matching algorithm ensures comparability on a number of key baseline characteristics as well as a predicted probability of purchasing chickens (generated using a machine learning model). Our endline data, collected from October 2017-February 2018, was collected 6-14 months after chickens became available in our treatment areas. Since EthioChicken’s chicks are sold at 56 days old in Oromia and ferenj chickens take around 5-6 months to begin laying eggs, the timing of the endline assures that the chickens have had the opportunity to mature and start producing eggs or be sold for meat.
We find that households who purchased improved chickens:2
Additionally, we do not find any evidence of significant spillovers onto households who did not purchase chickens but lived near other households who did purchase chickens. This is not surprising given the modest magnitude of direct effects that were hypothesized to have driven spillovers, specifically egg production.
Overall, we find that purchasing improved chickens results in a statistically significant increase in income from egg and chicken sales compared to households that own only local breeds of chicken. However, the impact on households’ well-being is likely to be limited given the small magnitude of the effects found; more transformative impact might require owning larger flocks of improved chickens. Furthermore, households experience higher income related to poultry, but also higher poultry-related expenses. Although we do not see increased average net poultry income in our sample, there is significant heterogeneity in the results and the impact of improved chicken ownership on long-term profit remains unclear.
Lastly, we find rather modest results on nutrition and no improvements on children’s consumption of animal protein. This may be partially explained by issues of power: since the overall increase in egg consumption by families is quite modest, it is hard to tease out increases for individual family members. However, it may also point to the need for complimentary interventions if chicken rearing is going to reach its potential as a nutrition booster for children.
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