The study was conducted to explore the socio-economic characteristics of poultry production in lowland and midland agro-ecological zones of central Tigray, Northern Ethiopia. Two districts were selected using systematic random sampling method from midland and lowland agro-ecology. Out of the total chicken keepers in the area 160 sample farmers, 80 from each district were selected randomly using lottery method. Data like purpose of chicken production, social and cultural value of chickens, labour division and ownership and use pattern were collected and analyzed using JMP5 (SAS, 2002). The main purpose of chicken rearing in the area was for meat consumption followed by egg production. There was significant difference (P<0.01) in production purpose between the households living in lowland and midland agro-ecology. The proportion of ownership in the family of male and female headed households was significantly different (P<0.05) in both agro-ecologies. In male headed households decisions like home consumption of chickens (65%) was done by the husband. In lowland 91.2% of the respondents and 78.7% in midland agro-ecology gave especial focus to Finding of the Cross day festivity than other festivals to slaughter chickens for sacrifice. Chicken meat consumption was significantly higher (P<0.0001) in lowland than midland agro-ecology. It was also higher in male headed households (P<0.001) than in female headed households but egg consumption was significantly higher (P<0.05) in female headed households than male headed households. Backyard poultry production in Ethiopia plays an important role in the economy, nutritional and socio-cultural values in the livelihoods of the rural households.
Key words: Chickens, ownership, consumption, egg.
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