IMPROVED MANAGEMENT IN RAISING INDIGENOUS CHICKENS (Roadrunners)


Quite a number of people are exploring rearing of road runners using intensive systems of production to maximise their productive potential. Indigenous chicken production systems are mostly based on the local scavenging domestic fowl (Gallus domesticus), which predominates in African villages. Sometimes the productivity of these birds is very low, but with proper management practices indigenous chicken can become very productive and have a very good potential for improving the income of the owners. Local chicken breeds are the most abundant livestock species in Zimbabwe. Indigenous chicken are mostly kept under a free range system in small flocks of less than 30 birds. They are more adapted to local conditions than the hybrids but have a lower productivity. Breeding indigenous chicken for improvement of the breed is very feasible for the specialist.

 

  • SOME FACTS ABOUT INDIGENOUS CHICKENS

• Meat and eggs are tastier and preferred by most consumers to those obtained from commercial breeds
• Initial investment is less than that needed to keep commercial breeds
• More tolerant of harsh conditions, including diseases, than commercial breeds
• Can be fed on cheap, locally available feeds
• When allowed to range freely, they need little feeding or other care
• Women and youth often control income from chickens
• Droppings are rich in nutrients: can be used for compost making, pond fertilizing and as feed for livestock.

  • WHY IMPROVED MANAGEMENT?

• Survival rate of chicks can be increased from 30% to 80%.
• If you hatch your eggs and sell chicks, earnings can be much higher (up to 7-times higher) than if you simply sell the eggs.
• Simultaneous hatching of hens (so all chicks hatch at the same time) makes planning for vaccinations easier.
• By cooperating with neighbours, farmers with small flocks can access vaccines at more affordable rates.
• Planning your production to meet high seasonal demand – such as at Christmas, Easter and other festivals can greatly increase your profits.
• If hens are prevented from hatching their own eggs or brooding chicks, they will start to lay again more quickly – after just 21 days, instead of the usual three months.

  • THE REQUIREMENTS

• One cock for every 10 hens
• Water and feed containers
• Housing space
• Laying nests
• Carton box with ventilation holes
• Wood shavings, hay or wheat straw for bedding
• Vaccines and drug

  • SELECTING BREEDING STOCK

• Select a hen that is broody, does not abandon her eggs during hatching and looks after her chicks well.
• Select a healthy, strong cock.

  • HOUSING
  • Why should housing be provided?

Housing is necessary to protect chicken against predators, thieves, adverse weather (rain, sun, cold winds and low night temperatures) and to provide shelter for egg laying and broody hens. Suitable poultry houses are important for efficient production and management. Poultry houses and shelters vary depending on availability of materials, weather and tradition. Choice of chicken housing should be based on cost, durability and usage. Reserve one square metre per 10 – 12 adult birds.

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