Compared to other chicken breeds , native chickens are second rate in terms of egg and meat production. On the average, a native chicken produces 40-60 eggs in a year, while White Leg horn produces more than 200 eggs. In terms of meat, a six month old vantress weighs 2.23 kg while a native chicken weighs 1.16 kg only.
With the hope of improving the traits of native chickens for egg and meat production, researchers from Western Integrated Agricultural Research Center (WESVIARC) packaged a technology to upgrade the native chickens. This project was funded by the Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Agricultural Research.
Five research sites were identified to participate in the breeding process, four barangays in Iloilo and one in Capiz. Each site has five farmer cooperators. Each farmer has 5 to 10 female native chickens ready for upgrading.
Traditionally, raising native chickens is very easy. The native chickens are let loose on free range and fed only twice a day. But with this technology farmers need to adopt a simple , minimum intervention technology.
The first intervention is the natural brooding and feeding process. During the natural, brooding process, the upgraded hen and the newly hatched chicks are confined in a brooding pen. They can be released on the yard from time to time but the hen should be placed inside a large basket (or tied with a three meter rope) to contain the chicks in the yard while being trained to scratch and scavenge on the ground. The chicks are fed with chick starter mash for six weeks, after that, the chicks are let loose on free range like the native chickens.
The second intervention is the hardening period. Before upgrading the native chickens, dual-purpose cocks are the breeders with the characteristics of both egg and meat type. Hardening is done to condition the dual-purpose breeders to the rugged feeding condition of the native chickens and to acquire vigor for the offsprings. During this period, the cocks are let loose on free range from 4 to 6 months. Their feeds are gradually changed from commercial concentrates to farm by products like unmilled rice, half –filled rice, rice bran, binlid and crack corn. It is also important that all chickens are vaccinated with La Sota NCD once every three months to safeguard them from avian pests.
The third intervention is the upgrading process. A total of 215 hardened dual purpose breeders are distributed to the farmer cooperators to upgrade their native chickens. Each farmer with 5-10 female native chickens is provided with one hardened dual purpose cock to upgrade the native chickens. The breeding ratio is 1:5-10.
The technology is easy for the farmers to adopt. Aside from the aforementioned interventions, the farmers do not need to deviate from their usual practice such as feeding, housing, disease prevention and other types of management.
According to Mr. Daniel F. Tirol, head of this project and chief of the Livestock Section of WESVIARC, adopting this technolgg is beneficial for small backyard farmers since it increases their income. The technology promises a one year payback period and more than 50% return of investment.
Source: BAR TODAY, January- March issue 2002 by Rita T. Dela Cruz
“Upgraded native chicken production for backyard farms” by Daniel F. Tirol, Romeo G. Penaflorida, Henry F. Molas and Anelyn A. Hapitan of The Western Visayas Integrated Agricultural Researches.