All across the globe, indigenous chicken’s meat and eggs are specifically appreciated because of their texture and taste despite a huge variation in prices in comparison to meat and eggs from commercial broilers. In a country like Pakistan, the overall share of rural poultry in total egg production is 27% out of which majority is used by rural folks for their domestic use as well as sold to the nearby markets.

Hence, the role of backyard type poultry is huge especially in terms of ensuring family nutritional status and overall household economics. From the point of view of chicken breeding, most of the backyard type chicken breeds are developed with the main focus to perform in the least input systems. However, the performance indicators in terms of body weight, weight gain, egg production, fertility and hatchability are always set with reference to the highest input systems that may be defined as the intensive production system. The birds bred and reared under intensive production system may not exhibit the same performance in actual backyard type / free range production system. The expression of normal behavioral patterns with the insurance of the bird welfare in intensive production systems is also a big question mark.

Another important factor to be considered in any animal breeding and production plan is the phenomenon of global warming, and Pakistan is among the top countries that are being affected. Such a situation calls for continuous efforts to develop certain chicken genotypes with the ability to survive and perform better in least input systems under the worst environmental conditions. Some indigenous chickens have proved to have higher number of eggs laid per clutch per year than commercial ones under harsh environmental and management conditions. It is therefore much more important to evaluate different chicken genotypes under different production systems.

Therefore, a study was planned in Department of Poultry Production, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Athar Mahmud, Dr. Jibran Hussain and Prof. Dr. Khalid Javed to evaluate the performance of three chicken genotypes under free range, semi intensive and intensive housing systems. Research findings revealed that RNN and BNN chickens had better weight, morphological and carcass traits and had some explorative behaviors under semi intensive and free range system. Overall, the housing system did not impact morphometric traits, and serum chemistry. Only a few differences were observed regarding body weight, body and keel length, plasma glucose, cholesterol and antibody response against ND and IB. Free range and semi intensive system largely influence productive performance, egg quality and hatching traits.

Regarding genotypes, RNN and BNN crossbred perform better than NN purebred. Hence, these chicken genotypes can be used to revive the backyard type poultry in rural areas of Pakistan. It is further suggested that rearing indigenous chickens in a semi intensive system is a better alternative that can enhance performance of the birds in terms of growth, behavior, welfare, production, reproduction and adaptability.

SOHAIL AHMAD,

Lahore, January 26.