The aim of this study was to identify and describe qualitative traits of indigenous Tswana chicken populations in Kweneng and Southern districts of Botswana. The qualitative traits involved in the study included tail colour, breast colour, back colour, neck colour, comb type, shank colour, earlobe colour and head shape. Data were subjected to frequency and cross tabulation procedures of descriptive statistics in Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to compute frequencies of occurrence of each qualitative trait. The five strains of indigenous Tswana chickens under scavenging management system showed distinct physical variations for most of the qualitative traits. Black was the most predominant tail colour across the strains (51.6%) followed by brown (27.9%). The frequency of brown breast colour and brown back colour were significantly higher in those respective regions. Brown and black were the predominant neck colours across the strains. The single comb type (81.7%), featherless shank (65.4%), red ear lobes (67.6%) and grey shank colour (32.9%) were the most predominant phenotypes across the strains. Plain and crested head shapes occurred at similar frequencies of 56.4 and 43.6%, respectively, in Tswana chickens in Southern part of Botswana.
Key words: Botswana, morphological characterization, phenotypic variation, qualitative traits, Tswana chickens.
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