This study was conducted to characterize flock size, composition, productivity, motivational drivers, and breed selection criteria in village chicken production systems of lowlands, midlands, and highlands of Ethiopia. Data were collected at 360 rural households of which 120 were from lowland, 160 midland, and 80 highlands. A standardized questionnaire was used to collect the data using person to person interview method. Data were analyzed using the various statistical procedures of statistical analysis system (SAS) version 9.2. Higher flock size and productivity of chicken were obtained for midlands than the other agro-ecologies. The average flock size per household was 16.6. The average age at sexual maturity of hens was 7 months. Average number of egg production was 43 eggs per hen per year. Average hatching rate was in the range of 76 to 82%. Mortality occurred in the range of 27 to 39%. Although, village chicken has diverse use in Ethiopian rural community, the main motivations to keep village chicken were egg production followed by income generation. Eggs were mainly used for hatching, home consumption, and to generate a daily disposable income. The three most important breed selection criteria were egg production, morphometric characteristics, and mothering ability. Findings from this study can support the design of agro-ecology based breeding strategies aiming to improve native chicken production, productivity, and enhance their economic contributions to the farmers.
Key words: Ethiopian native chicken, breed selection criteria, flock productivity, motivational drivers.
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