This study aimed at characterizing phenotypes, production systems and the reproductive performance of indigenous chickens in Rwanda. Indigenous chickens (n=529) from 265 chicken rearing households drawn from all the five provinces of Rwanda were used in this study and analysis was performed using Statistical Analysis Systems (SAS, version 9.2) software. Four comb types were observed, with strawberry (51%) being most dominant, as was whiteness of ear lobes (57%). Rounded ear lobe shape (92%) and curved beaks (99.6%) were both almost universal. Beak colour varied between green, black, yellow and brown with the latter most prevalent (51%). Evenly distributed feathers were most common (99.8%) whereas naked-neck phenotype was rare (0.2%). Almost all chickens had brown eyes, and thick skins (88.4%) that were yellow-coloured (69%). Most chickens (39%) had yellow coloured shanks. Significant variations were observed in age at sexual maturity for both male and female chickens across provinces (p>0.05). The biggest egg clutches were from the western province (14.7 eggs) while the smallest was 6.6 eggs in the southern. Egg hatchability was highest (85%) in the western province and lowest (52%) in the eastern province.We conclude that the Rwanda indigenous chickens might have useful genetic potential, and planning for proper and sustainable utilization of this indigenous chicken genetic resource is the best way forward.
Key words: Indigenous chickens, phenotypes, production, reproduction, population structure.
BL, Body length; BW, Body Weight; WS, Wingspan; EP, Egg produced per year; NL, Nech length; CL, comb length; CW, comb width, WW, wattle width; KL, keel length; TL, thigh length; CS, comb size; TL, Tarsus length; AL, age at laying.
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