On-station performance evaluation of improved tropically adapted chicken strains for smallholder poultry production systems in sub- Saharan Africa

Availability of appropriate genetics is important for the development of Smallholder Poultry (SHP) in Sub-Saharan Africa. The biological potential of improved dual purpose chicken strains was evaluated in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria. A total of 8 strains (Funaab Alpha, Horro, Noiler, ShikaBrown, Koekoek, Kuroiler, Sasso, and Sasso-RIR) were tested on-station, in deep litter houses at two test centres in each country for 72-weeks. Birds were fed ad libitum for the first 20 weeks, after which restricted feeding was practised. Lowest and highest hatchability of eggs set was 35% (Horro), 69% (Sasso-RIR) in Ethiopia, 60% (Kuroiler), 88% (Sasso) in Tanzania, and 42% (Funaab Alpha) – 89% (Sasso) in Nigeria. At 16 weeks, male live weights were 200%-300% higher than the local strains (Ethiopia 627g, Nigeria 793g, Tanzania 811g) except Sasso-RIR (170%), Koekoek (167%), ShikaBrown (152%), and Horro (103%). Lowest age at first egg was 119 d for ShikaBrown (Nigeria), 123 d for Sasso and Kuroiler (Tanzania), and 124 d for Sasso-RIR (Ethiopia). Highest hen-housed egg production was 192 for ShikaBrown, 166 for Sasso, and 111 for Sasso-RIR in Nigeria, Tanzania and Ethiopia, respectively. Survivability of the strains was significantly different during brooding, growing and laying. The genotype by environment interaction effect on the performance of the strains can be utilized to identify specific germplasms suitable for different agro-ecological conditions.