TALIRI seeks ways of boosting indigenous chickens ecoptypes

20Nov 2020
Crispin Gerald
The Guardian
TALIRI seeks ways of boosting indigenous chickens ecoptypes

I NDIGENOUS chickens production plays a significant role in  contributing to nutritional status of various societies and is a major source of income.

This  is due to advantages over other species of livestock which include short  generation interval, low initial cost and maintenance cost compared to other livestock. Treasury budget estimates for 2020/2012 showed that Tanzania had about 83.28 million chickens where 38.77 millions are  indigenous chickens which provide almost all the poultry meat in the rural areas. 

Nearly 90 percent of the indigenous chickens are raised by smallholder farmers in the rural areas.

The demand for meat and eggs from indigenous chickens has been increasing because of their perceived image as nutritious, healthy and being natural products.

The supply of these products is low and has continued to depend on smallholder farmers who keep five to 15 chickens per household. Consumption of meat and eggs in Tanzania are reported to be 12 kilograms and 75 eggs per annum respectively which is low compared to the world average of 50 kilograms of meat and 300 eggs, on the basis of data from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries (MLDF, 2010).  

Moreover, indigenous chicken ecotypes have neither been evaluated nor purely bred. As a result their performance varies considerably.

Some initiatives to commercialize indigenous chickens by a number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) broke down due to shortage of quality day old chicks in the country.  

Recently, NGOs have been introducing different exotic chickens for meat and egg production. These introduced chickens need delicate management and most of them are heavy feeders.

Most farmers in rural areas cannot afford to keep those exotic chickens due to high cost of production and many are prone to diseases from any localized viruses.

Regarding the above challenges with indigenous chickens, a researcher at the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI), Mary Magonka, conducted a survey to identify and evaluate indigenous chickens’ ecotypes in order to come out with potential ecotypes for grand and parent stocks to be used in commercial poultry production.

The main purpose was to improve incomes and food security of smallholder farmers through commercialization of indigenous chickens.

How the study was done?

The researcher, a livestock scientist, said the study took place in the central part of Tanzania, Dodoma in Mpwapwa district which involved four ecotypes namely Horasi, Kuchi, Kishingo and Sasamala collected from farmers.

The chickens were managed under a semi intensive system and provided with compounded feeds according to body needs.

The flock was provided with water throughout the day and a disease control programme was included. Information on body weight, external egg characteristics, day old chick weight, body weight gain, weight at 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24 weeks were collected.

Age at first egg and egg number were also determined. “During data collection a training manual was prepared to suit the farmer’s situation and farmers from nine villages were trained on chickens management,” she said. 

What were the key findings?

The study which was funded by the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), shows that among the four ecotypes, Horasi and Kishingo (naked neck) were found to be good in terms of survival rates, hatch ability and egg production.

However Kuchi frizzled and did not perform well on the same parameters and this reduces their numbers, mostly dying from week one to week eight. Average age at first egg for Horasi and Kishingo were 15 weeks and 16 weeks respectively.

Average egg numbers per clutch for Horasi and ‘Naked Neck’ were 16 and 18 eggs respectively. Magonka explained that Sasamala ecotypes had low survival rate when reaching two months of age, noting that this needs more investigation at molecular level to find out the causes for this tendency.   

Kuchi ecotypes were found with more cocks in their chicks than hens. New innovation on reducing chick mortality and increasing the number of clutches per year was introduced.

A total of 238 farmers were trained on chicken management whereby 61.8 percent were females from nine villages namely Isinghu A, Isinghu B, Vingextension workers effectively assists farmers to make the poultry sector profitable.

Use of new technology of chicks rearing will increase flock numbers from five to 100 per household, reduce chicks mortality from 80 percent to five percent, thus increasing productivity.

The disease control programme in place will reduce indigenous chickens’ mortality and ultimately increase household income.

Wider recommendations from the study:

Semi intensive systems should be promoted as the best option to improve productivity and increase income, while discouraging the scavenging system. Policy makers at local government authorities should bring extension officers to work closely with poultry keepers as they do for other livestock like cattle and goats.

“But also, establishment of private hatcheries is suggested as the best way for producing a large number of indigenous chicks in collaboration with the institute,” she said.

“Knowledge transfer to different stakeholders on indigenous chickens management for improving production is highly needed,” the researcher underlined.

Using artificial chicks rearing should be encouraged among farmers to increase the flock size, reduce chick mortality rates from 80 percent to five percent and increase clutch number per hen per year from three to four to reach six to seven.

This is possible by including extension staff, use of media and field days, the study noted. Commercialization of indigenous chickens being a new thrust, farmers should be encouraged to keep large numbers of chickens on the basis of the knowledge provided, thus ultimately meet the current demand of indigenous chickens in the market, it added. hawe, Manghangu, Kisokwe, Mjimpya, Igovu, Idilo and Chamuhawi.

 About 238 copies of the training manual booklets were prepared and distributed to farmers for checking and reference. Study generalisations Indigenous chicken under a semi intensive system perform better. Horasi and Kishingo were good in terms of production and can be raised to produce quality day old chicks for stakeholders, enabling increased income among smallholder farmers. 

Kuchi can be used to crossbreed other ecotypes for increasing the weight of other chickens, it said, specifying that further studies need to be undertaken on that point On a molecular level on production and health, with potential impacts for beneficiaries were also examined.

Production of a large number of indigenous chickens particularly Kishingo and Horasi will make availability of quality chicks easier for chicken meat dealers, dealers in eggs, restaurants, hotels, farmers, traders, public agencies and other consumers.

Quality production of indigenous chickens will create employment for youth and women at different stages of rearing, with employment at hatchery machines, chicks rearing, feed processors or vaccine distributors.

Large numbers of chickens of the same size and age at once will increase household income, food security and overall GDP figures, she elaborated.

Applied technologies related to rearing, feeding and disease control obtained from training with assistance from researchers and extension workers effectively assists farmers to make the poultry sector profitable.

Use of new technology of chicks rearing will increase flock numbers from five to 100 per household, reduce chicks mortality from 80 percent to five percent, thus increasing productivity.

The disease control programme in place will reduce indigenous chickens’ mortality and ultimately increase household income.

Wider recommendations from the study: Semi intensive systems should be promoted as the best option to improve productivity and increase income, while discouraging the scavenging system.

Policy makers at local government authorities should bring extension officers to work closely with poultry keepers as they do for other livestock like cattle and goats.

“But also, establishment of private hatcheries is suggested as the best way for producing a large number of indigenous chicks in collaboration with the institute,” she said.

“Knowledge transfer to different stakeholders on indigenous chickens management for improving production is highly needed,” the researcher underlined.

Using artificial chicks rearing should be encouraged among farmers to increase the flock size, reduce chick mortality rates from 80 percent to five percent and increase clutch number per hen per year from three to four to reach six to seven.

This is possible by including extension staff, use of media and field days, the study noted. Commercialization of indigenous chickens being a new thrust, farmers should be encouraged to keep large numbers of chickens on the basis of the knowledge provided, thus ultimately meet the current demand of indigenous chickens in the market, it added.