Farmers encouraged to keep local chicken breeds
Malawian farmers have been encouraged to continue keeping local chicken breeds because of their ability to serve multiple income generation purposes. The call has come at a time when some quarters in the country have complained that with numerous messages encouraging farmers to keep fast growing hybrid chickens there is a possibility that most of them may shift from the production of local breeds to the production of hybrids which they say may lead to extinction of the local breeds.
Eric Chuma who serves as the Technical Advisor for Poultry Association of Malawi (PIAM), said although farmers are advised to keep hybrid chickens because of their ability to grow quickly coupled with more production yields, PIAM also encourages farmers to keep local breeds of chicken. He said local free-range chickens are less demanding because they do not need expensive food and are resistant to diseases unlike hybrid chickens.
He said unlike most hybrid chickens that serve a single particular purpose, local chickens provide meat, eggs, and are also used for breeding because of their ability to hatch eggs. “As Poultry Industry Association of Malawi we are encouraging local farmers to continue keeping local breeds of chicken. Currently the demand for such chickens is high; as such we need to meet that demand.”
According to a survey quoted by Chuma, there are about 2 million households that keep local chickens in the country. He said there are 55 million local chickens in the country, a small number when you consider that Malawi’s population is pegged at about 17 million.