A study was conducted in different agro-ecologies of Ethiopia with the objective of understanding the farmers’ preferences towards breeding objectives in indigenous chickens. For the interview, 245 households (60 from lowland, 100 from midland and 85 from highland) were randomly selected. Farmers in lowland had significantly (p<0.05) lower chicken populations while comparing with the remaining agro-ecologies. The average age of village pullets at first egg was 6.54±0.063 months. There was significantly (p<0.05) higher egg production in midland. There was significant difference (p<0.05) in clutch number among the three agro-ecologies. Among the three agro-ecologies; midland showed significantly (p<0.05) higher number of eggs set/hen. Effective population size of village chickens per household was calculated as 4.43, 7.8 and 7.18 in lowland, midland and highland respectively. Most of the farmers (91%) were practicing culling their chickens for getting old, sickness, brooding frequency and low production for hens and getting old, sickness and fighting each other for cocks. Comparing the preferences of traits, female farmers preferred egg production, unlike the male farmers who gave equal emphasis both for egg and meat. Egg production for sale was prioritized by the farmers, especially for women, followed by live chicken sale. Body weight is the most considered trait to select male chickens for breeding, followed by plumage color, across thee agro-ecologies. For female chickens, brooding frequency is most considered in lowland (48.3%) and midland (37%) unlike in highland where age at first egg (47.1%) is prioritized. This study can be the base to design the breeding strategy of the chicken population in the study sites and beyond.
Key words: Agro-ecology, breeding objectives, effective population, farmer preference, inbreeding coefficient, local chickens.
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