Small-scale poultry rearing provides a livelihood for many households around the globe and is a means for women to contribute to household income while raising children. We present an ethnozoological and ethnographic case study of smallholder Guatemalan fisher-farmers of two villages in which ethnic Ladino residents are increasingly reliant on raising birds. Data comes from direct and participant observation of all families in both villages, as well as from multiple in-depth informal and semi-formal interviews with 13 key consultants and a total of 48 semi-structured ethnographic interviews with village poultry raisers. We found that women are the primary caretakers of poultry in the villages and that poultry provide a source of extra income for women, when needed, and an important source of nutrients for the household. In addition, the consumption of poultry has high sociocultural value for celebrations and holidays. The greatest constraints on family poultry systems in the villages are reoccurring diseases (including Newcastle) that devastate flocks and that have been increasing in frequency over time. However, access to effective and appropriate treatment for poultry disease is limited in the area. We suggest village vaccination campaigns led by women as a means to decrease loss of poultry flocks and, thus, assure livelihood and food security for poultry-rearing households.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4