The effect of supplementation on the performance of free range local chickens in Tanzania
Livestock Research for Rural Development
Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture, P.O. Box 3004, Morogoro, Tanzania; Open University of Tanzania, P.O.Box 2409, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania; Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Medicine and Health, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania
A study to evaluate the effect supplementation on growth and egg production in free range chickens was carried out in Morogoro, Tanzania. The effect of location and household surroundings on performance of free range local chickens was also assessed. A total of 144 chickens were used. Birds were selected and sorted based on their body weight and age and then randomly allocated to three feeding regimes. The three feed types were; homemade and commercial supplement and the un-supplemented (those which were left to scavenge only). During the growing period, performance was measured in terms of body weight, shank length and growth rate. Total number of eggs laid, egg weight and shell thickness were recorded during the laying period. Gross margin analysis was done for the laying period. A digestibility trial was carried out to assess the nutritive value of feeds and their utilization by the birds.Total dry matter digestibility differed significantly (P<0.05) between seasons and was 79 and 67% for the dry and wet season feed, respectively. Feed supplementation to free range local chickens led to improved performance in terms of growth rate and body weight. The mean mature body weight for the supplemented and un-supplemented chickens was 1484 g and 1282g, respectively. However no difference was observed between treatments on shank length. Significant (P< 0.05) differences for growth rate were observed between treatments during periods 1-3 and between locations. Performance for birds at the experimental station was lower for most parameters. An increase in egg number and shell thickness with supplementation was noted. The mean egg number for free range local chickens supplemented with homemade feed and commercial was 31.9 and 31.8, respectively whereas it was 20.4 for the un-supplemented free range chickens. The profit margin from eggs was increased by 11.2% and declined by 3.4% in birds under homemade and commercial supplementation, respectively. From these results it was therefore concluded that supplementation led to improved performance in terms of growth, egg production and quality but the profit margin was substantially reduced by feed cost. This means that cheap locally available feed ingredients should be used when supplementing rural chickens.