Animal and Aquacultural Sciences
New poultry genes for increased production in Ethiopia
Janne Karin Brodin
Poultry breeds in rural Ethiopia are old native races which are well adapted to a life of meager resources. However, their growth rate is slow and they do not lay many eggs. Crossbreeding with more productive breeds can increase weight gain as well as egg production.
In rural Ethiopia, chicken farming is an important contribution to the livelihood, providing meat and eggs for the family as well as a source of income and an economic buffer. The chickens feed off food scraps and insects, they are fast and light on their feet and difficult to get at for potential enemies.
Little research on native breeds
Fassill Bekele Ambaye
Photo: Janne Brodin
Even though they are widely used, little has been done in the way of research on and development of the native breeds. In his doctoral work, PhD student Fassill Bekele Ambaye has examined the possibility of crossing native breeds with the exotic breeds Rhode Island Red and the Egyptian Fayoumi, to see whether this could increase egg production and weight gain. The aim is to establish an improved poultry breeding program, to provide chicken farmers with a better income than the local breeds give at present. Multiple step crossing
Experiments were carried out on farms and at a testing station. The exotic breeds, crosses between exotic and local breeds, and finally a 4 way crossing of the crossed breeds were tested. Results through improved environme
Crossing combined with an improved environment gave the best results. On the farms, the day old chickens were given a straw filled box to shelter in. This simple measure resulted in a higher survival rate in farm chickens than at the testing station in one part of the experiment. Escaping from enemies
The exotic race Rhode Island Red sits down when is frightened. This means that the free life on the farm becomes a short one. Consequently, a mix of light-on-their-feet local breeds and heavier exotic breeds gave the best results in terms of survival and production: the crosses perform better in egg production and weight gain, and keep the ability to escape from enemies. The 4-way crosses also had a better survival rate than the exotic breeds.
The thesis concludes that the productivity of native races under village farm conditions can be improved through crossing with exotic lines. Breeding should be combined with improved farming practices, such as better housing, feeds and disease control.
Fassill Bekele Ambaye is 43 years old and comes from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. He holds a M.Sc degree from Wageningen University in Holland.
Dr. Ambaye defended his thesis on Friday November 12th 2010 at IHA.
Updated: 22.11.10Printerfriendly version
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