Crossbred local chicken performance assessment in a village farming system in India

Analysis of crossbreeding indigenous chicken with improved germplasm for performance assessment and adaptability under village farming system in Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh, India. Varun Sankhyan, Y P Thakur, Rakesh Thakur, P K Dogra and Sanjeet Katoch

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The study was conducted over a period of four years involving crossing of native/indigenous germplasm (N) of the state with Dahlem Red (DR) and Rhode Island Red. The two genetic groups NxDR and NxRIR were evaluated at farm conditions and afterwards introduced in to village farming system of state to assess their adaptability and acceptability. For performance evaluation and adaptability studies 25-30 chickens of each genetic group is distributed to 20-25 farmers under different pockets in different region of state for rearing under traditional production system. Data for traits under consideration was analysed using Generalized Linear Model (GLM) procedure of statistical analysis system. The performance of crosses were observed significantly (P<0.05) better under farm condition than under field conditions for growth, age at sexual maturity, weight at sexual maturity and egg production up to 52 weeks of age. The mortality up to 8 weeks of age was also comparatively higher under traditional production than farm condition but layer house mortality was similar under both production systems. The different crosses they performed satisfactorily under field conditions compared to local birds and they are well adapted to local agroclimatic condition and are well accepted by the farmers involved in backyard poultry farming. Further studies should be carried to evaluate the performance of these crosses on larger scale under traditional/rural poultry farming condition so that these birds can be introduced in to rural backyard production system, which can be viable alternative to ensure nutritional security to local population along with an alternate option for sustainable livelihood and employment.

Poultry farming is one of the important allied activities of agricultural sector especially in Himalayan agro ecosystem.

Most important production system prevailing in the state is rural/traditional backyard poultry production system, since commercial scale poultry enterprises have failed to pickup. Animal Production in general and chickens in particular play important socio-economic role in developing countries. Village poultry farming is the cornerstone of poultry farming in the state but its growth is limited due to high seasonal mortality, low productivity and suboptimal management. The study was conducted over a period of four years involving crossing of local germplasm of the state with improved breeds resulted in development of three genetic groups which were evaluated at farm condition and afterwards introduced in to village farming system of state. The preliminary objective of the study was to assess the productive and reproductive potential of the crosses develop at farmer’s flock and to analyse the adaptability and acceptability of these crosses. In the study Dahlem Red (DR) and Rhode Island Red, dual purpose breeds was used to improve the potential of local chickens.

During the initial period of study indigenous chicken were collected from different agro-ecological zone of state of Himachal Pradesh and reared under intensive system as foundation stock for native germplasm. These birds were random bred, fertile eggs were collected from these birds and chicks were hatched artificially. After three generation of selection and achievement of uniformity the selected population was maintained as parental line, performance evaluated and used for crossing with improved variety. Selected native birds were used in crossing with DR and RIR to produce NxDR and NxRIR crosses, respectively. 360 NxDR birds and 380 NxRIR were reared simultaneously under intensive system of management at HP Agricultural University poultry farm under standard brooding feeding and management practices. Standard commercial mash feed was offered to them at different growing stages. Body weights (up to 40 weeks), mortality during different ages and various egg production parameters were recorded for both the cross. For performance evaluation under village production system and adaptability studies 25-30 chickens of each genetic group is distributed to 20-25 farmers under different pockets in different region of state for rearing under traditional production system. Data collected was organized in MS excel and statistical analysis for flock and production characteristics was performed using General Linear Model (GLM) procedure of Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and t-test (SAS version 9.2).

Mean body weight of NxDR and NxRIR under intensive rearing at 20 weeks of age was 1414±19.9 and1456±22.6, respectively. While the body weight of the crosses under village poultry farming was 1310±38.2 and 1278±32.26 for NxDR and NxRIR, respectively. The analysis for body weight at different ages revealed that under farm level revealed that there was no significant difference between both the crosses but NxDR was slightly heavier than NxRIR. Field data indicated that there were significant differences for body weight for both crosses when compared to farm performance. The average age at sexual maturity for NxDR and NxRIR was 149 and 158 days respectively at farm level indicating that NxDR birds mature comparatively earlier than indigenous. With regard to egg weight there were significant differences (P<0.05) between NxDR and NxRIR at farm level as well as under village poultry farming for different. The comparative estimate of egg production revealed that egg production for NxDR at 40 weeks and 52 weeks under farm condition was 49.3 and 89.17 eggs, respectively. While for NxRIR under farm evaluation egg production at 40 weeks and 52 weeks were 47.1 and 87.44 eggs respectively. The result indicated that both crosses perform more or less the same with respect to egg production at farm level. Similar findings were observed for both crosses while evaluating them at farm level. Although performance of NxDR was slightly better that NxRIR with respect to egg weight and early period and growing stage mortality but overall the performance of both crosses was found satisfactory (while comparing them with local birds) and the birds are well adapted to local agro-climatic condition under traditional system of production. Adidokun et al., 2002, also reported that crossbreeding Nigerian indigenous chicken with DR for improved productivity and adaptability.

The present study indicated that the performance of different crosses were comparatively better than local indigenous chicken of Himachal Pradesh for various growth and production trait, whereas mortality, hatchability, fertility and chick survivability was almost comparable to local chicken. Performance of NxDR was found better than NxRIR for egg size so DR might be used to produce further crosses to be evaluated for performance to backyard poultry production. Further studies should be carried to evaluate the performance of different crosses under traditional/rural poultry farming condition under varied management village farming system so that these birds can be introduced in to rural backyard production system, which can be viable alternative to ensure nutritional security to local population along with an alternate option for sustainable livelihood and employment.

From the Proceedings of Antalya Turkey – The Potential for Poultry Production in Developing Countries