Animal and Aquacultural Sciences
Fassill Bekele Ambaye defended his thesis on November 12th 2010
Ane Gro Siri Skjelfjord
Development and evaluation of 4-way crossbred chicken population in Southern Ethiopia
Village chickens in Ethiopia are predominantly indigenous. They play an important role in the livelihood of farmers mainly by providing animal protein through meat and egg, as a source of income and family saving, and means of employment for landless farmers and women. They are believed to have valuable genetic attributes such as adaptation to harsh environment and some resistance to diseases and parasites, but they are poor in egg production and growth. In spite of their huge number and importance, very little scientific research and development activities have been done. Village chicken productivity should be improved not only genetically but also through better management practices.
This study was conducted in Ethiopia to produce a chicken population through 4-way crossbreeding using two indigenous and two exotic chicken breeds. The final 4-way chicken crosses are considered to perform better than the indigenous chicken population in egg production and body weight under village management conditions. Although they were expected to survive better than the exotic chicken, mortality was high. The two indigenous ecotypes/breeds were Naked Neck (N) and Netch (W), a white feathered chicken, used to sire the two exotic breeds: Fayoumi (F), developed in Egypt, and Rhode Island Red (R), respectively. The pure breed exotic chickens were tested under on-station in a college farm and on-farm in farmers' villages using women farmers. A local indigenous ecotype/breed called Sidancho was also tested on-farm together with the exotic breeds. The F1 produced by crossing R with W and F with N were tested only on-station. The F2 which were produced by crossing RW with FN, or their reciprocal, were tested in both on-station and on-farm management systems. Parameters measured were mortality, egg production and quality, and body weight and growth.
Genotype by environment interaction was observed in first experiment for pure exotic breeds tested under the two management systems. F already performed better than R on-station, but on-farm F performed much better than R, although the level of production was lower. F was better in egg production and survivability in both systems, but R weighed heavier and laid heavy eggs. No significant difference was observed between the F1 crosses on most of the traits measured on-station. No significant difference was found between the reciprocal crosses forming the F2. There was significant management effect on body weight and hen housed egg production of the F2. The F2 started laying eggs earlier under on-farm condition than on-station and produced more eggs during the early egg laying period. The condition was reversed on late egg laying production where on-station chickens laid more eggs than on-farm chickens. Chick mortality was lower for on-farm than on-station, maybe due to the use of hay-box chick brooder by the farmers. But high on-farm grown chicken mortality mainly due to predator and disease was observed. In general when the F2 was compared with the indigenous Sidancho, age at first egg was reduced by almost 2 months, egg number was improved by 35% and layer body weight was increased by 100 g.
It is therefore concluded that productivity of village chickens can be improved by cross breeding and thereby can contribute to the betterment of livelihood of farmers through increased egg production. It is discussed whether this should be by use of cross breeding or the introduction of a synthetic line. However, genetic improvement should go hand in hand with better management practices such as improved housing, quality feed and disease control, so that the chickens may express their genetic potentials. Finally it was recommended that further study with more breeds together with economic analysis should be conducted to choose the best possible breed combination for both village as well as small-scale urban chicken production systems.
Updated: 19.11.10Printerfriendly version
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