Phenotypic characterization and production systems of indigenous chickens in urban, peri urban and rural area of the west Harerghe zone, Ethiopia
Author(s): Sufiyan Abdi Musa
Abstract: The study was conducted to characterize the indigenous chicken ecotypes and identify the production system of the owners across different locations. The three districts of West Hararghe zone of Oromia region, Gamachis, Tullo and Ciro district were purposely selected to represent high-altitude, mid-altitude and low-altitude agro-ecologies, respectively. Three kebeles from different locations (urban, peri-urban and rural) were selected purposely in each district that makes up a total of 9 kebeles as primary sampling units for the study. About 20 rural households (HH) per kebeles were selected randomly and additional three focus groups one per district was formed to strength the ideas of the respondents. A total of 180 HHs (60 HHs per urban, peri-urban and rural locations) were interviewed for primary data collection. Productive and reproductive performance, breeding practice, and major constraints of chicken production were addressed by semi-structured questionnaire and checklists. Additionally, field observations and focus group discussions were practiced. Whereas, measurable traits like body weight (BW), body length (BL), chest circumference (CC), wing span (WS), shank length (SL), comb length (CL), comb width (CW), wattle length (WL), earlobe length (EL), height at back (HB) and height at comb(HC)were considered for the study of 420 mature chickens morphological characteristics. The data were analyzed using General Linear Model (GLM) of SAS (version 9.1.3).Also SPSS (version 20) and index methods were used to analyze qualitative data and to rank priority setup of the breeding objectives and to detect the major constraints respectively. The overall mean for body weight obtained for mature chicken was 1.33±0.009 kg which showed a significant difference (p<0.05) across agro-ecology and sex. Reproductive performance of female average age at first sexual maturity was 5.18±0.92. The main breeding objectives of HHs in the study areas were egg production for home consumption at urban area, while it’s for source of income, in peri-urban and rural areas. The major constraints of poultry production in the study districts were disease, lack of housing and shortage of feeds followed by litter scattering and predators. From the morphological characteristics of the local chickens, it is concluded that local chicken populations studied are not unique from the rest of the Ethiopian indigenous chicken populations as the observed characters are also found in other areas of the country. However, further studies involving morphometric, production and molecular analyses are important for exhaustive characterization. Such information will form a basis for conservation, selection and sustainable improvement strategies for the identified prospective local chickens.