The characterization of indigenous chickens for utilization, improvement and conservation under traditional production systems
Tshovhote, Ndiafhi Jane
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Family poultry production plays a vital role in improving the livelihoods of rural communities in South Africa. The sector also serves as a reservoir of a genetic material which needs to be conserved before it goes instinct. The low genetic potential in this input production system may be viewed as a limitation factor in increasing demand of free range products. However, if the number of households keeping these chickens could increase as well as the increase in the flock size within the households keeping the chickens, the supply will increase and the demand could be met. The available scavenging feed resources available in the system are dominated by household waste, crop residues and the insects. It should be noted that the composition of the scavangeable feed resource base is determined by the agricultural practices in the region. Subsequently, the available alternative resources for supplementary feeding are also influenced by the type of grains planted in that region. Village chickens grow slowly and keepers do not record performance. The price of the chicken is determined by seeing the size. Linear body measurements taken by a measuring tape showed positive correlation with body weight. It could be is concluded that using a measuring tape which could be easily accessed will give an estimate of body weight. Slaughtering is happening at a substandard level. The use of ratio in eliminating variation of body parts in relation to the body weight may not necessarily give a positive response and they cannot enjoy the continuous use. The sector is operating with little or no extension support. The Limpopo Department of Agriculture as the custodian of extensions services should work on improving the areas where the strategies and task are of low fit. The areas include provision of vaccination of notifiable diseases such as New Castle, production advisory services and the financial support towards infrastructure. Policy Review should also include development of a multidisciplinary model that will assist decision makers to tailor made the necessary support to this sector to increase its contribution to food security.