African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6862

Full Length Research Paper

Population, production and improvement of local fowl of southern Nigeria ecotype

C. T. Ezeokeke
  • C. T. Ezeokeke
  • Department of Animal Science and Technology, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria.
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E. A. Iyayi
  • E. A. Iyayi
  • Department of Animal Science, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.
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  •  Received: 15 October 2012
  •  Accepted: 15 October 2013
  •  Published: 26 February 2015


There is paucity of data on local fowls’ production in Southern Nigeria. The population and identity of the farmers involved in raising the fowl is lacking. Studies were carried out in the areas that covered Anambra, Oyo and Imo States to ascertain the population, production and improvement of the local fowl.  In six hundred households in Anambra State the population of local birds was 4,971. These consisted of 911 (Chicks), 1073 (Growers), 1278 (Cocks) and 1709 (Hens), respectively. Imo State in 6 local government areas (LGAs), 300 households had 2032 local birds comprising 394 (Cocks), 614 (Hens), 478 (Growers) and 546 (Chicks) while in Oyo North LGA feeding trials were conducted to determine nutrient requirements of the fowl. Shank lengths and egg quality showed variations (P<0.05) in different localities. A standard energy and protein levels of 2,700 kcalME/kg of feed and 22% crude protein (CP) at chick phase and 3,000 kcalME/kg of feed and 17% CP at grower phase, respectively, were established for the fowl. Also feed additives such as antibiotics, prebiotics and probiotics used as growths promoters were assessed. Antibiotics did not show any positive pattern of growth promotion while the prebiotics and probiotics enhanced performance of local fowl. Plantain peels meal fed at early phase of life moderately enhanced performance of the fowl. To bridge the animal protein deficit in the nutrition of rural populace, local fowl can be used but after improvement of the fowl to commercial birds.


Key words: Local fowl, South Nigeria ecotype, population, production and performance.


The system of managing the local fowl in Nigeria is still the traditional house holder reared mostly by women in a range system where the flocks are allowed to roam in order to feed. The birds appear to be generally heterogeneous with no specific color pattern and non-descriptive both in phenotype and genotype. They have been characterized as hardy highly adapted to the harsh hot and humid native environment (Nwakpu et al., 1999). Some local birds seen in villages may have been crossed with exotic cocks in earlier years through the cockerel exchange programme among others, but such genes may have been dispersed and lost in the population because of unplanned breeding and absence of selection. Thesaurus defined domestic fowl as domesticated gallinaceous bird thought to be descended from the red jungle fowl. In Nigeria, local fowls are indigenous unselected population of domestic birds that inhabit mostly rural parts of the country. From studies (Ezeokeke and Iyayi, 2001; Ezeokeke, 2008) this stock has not been crossed bred with imported ones. Attempts to improve their performance in the past had been by cross breeding them with imported ones in an exchange program failed because heterosis in the offspring was marginal and dismally observed. The inherited traits were lost overtime especially in an uncontrolled breeding environment (Ezeokeke, 2003). The heritability index is low in the fowl and any transferred trait is diminished in the subsequent generation and becomes recessed and eventually lost. Oluyemi and Ogunmodede (1979) described local fowls as a breed or variety of any species of poultry which has developed characteristics peculiar to a geographical location that can be said to be indigenous to that location.


The results indicated that most of the household keepers were women (Table 1). This is similar to that published by Gueye (2000); Bagnol (2001) and Das et al. (2008). The highest flock per household was 12 as recorded in Ayamelum (Table 2). The management system was mainly the extensive or scavenging type (Awolola, 1986). But some of the householders provided one type of shelter or another under very unhygienic conditions. Coccidiosis was more rampart than Newcastle (Adler and Damassa, 1980) diseases as observed in these areas (Table 3 to 5). 
Apart from farming most of the keepers engaged in other enterprise (Table 1) and were educated formally and informally. The body weight of chick varied significantly (P<0.05) but this might be as a result of having a pull of chicks with different ages (0 to 6wks) together in a group (Tables 7 to 10). Age differential within type might have contributed to the observed differences. The shank lengths differed significantly (P<0.05) in all the chicken types (Tables 11 to 17). The flocks were kept by householders who did not keep record of management and production (Table 6). The egg quality was low indicating low management practice no feed and house were provided to the flock in most homes where the birds were raised (Tables 18 to 20).


Low energy and high protein diet for  chicks  while high energy and low protein diet for growers enhanced performance of local fowl. The results of the studies are as shown in Tables 21 to 22. For better use of antibiotics, the absorption characteristics of therapeutic antimicrobial substances should be known. The precise mechanism by which antibacterial substances promote growth and mode of action of dissimilar antibiotics as used in combination in the study at sub-optimal level need further investigation (Tables 23 to 26).  
Several studies with broilers have indicated that probiotic preparations improved live weight gain and feed conversion rate, and markedly reduce mortality (Owings et al., 1990; Jin et al., 1996; Awaad et al., 2001). Dunham et al. (1993) reported that birds treated with Lactobacillus reuteri exhibited longer ileal vili and deeper crypts, which are a response, associated with enhanced T cell function, and increased production of anti-salmonella IgM antibodies. Enterococcus faesium as  used  as  probiotic  like  lactobacillus  could  be important in the development of immunity looking at the table of blood metabolites. Immunity resulting from gut exposure to a variety of antigens, such as pathogenic bacteria and dietary protein, is important in defense of young animal against enteric infection (Perdigon et al., 1995). Tables 27 to 29 depicted performance of local birds on diets supplemented with prebiotics and probiotics. The additives enhanced performance, derived and acquired immunity of the birds. Also on experiment with plantain peels meal at the starter and finisher phases all the parameters measured were not significant (P>0.05). But results compared favorably with that reported on broilers by Tewe (1983). The average initial weight of the test birds was 32.00 g and at the end of starter phase attained 133.30 g corresponding to the early stages of growth of the fowl. This potential can be utilized in the improvement of the local birds as table birds. The birds had the capacity to put on weight easily especially when fed with plantain peel meal at  the early stages of life. The study substituted maize with PPM at 6% inclusion level fed to indigenous chickens at starter  (0 to 4 wks)  and  finisher (5  to 8 wks)  phases  in order to achieve with the control the same level of performance at a relatively cheaper cost of the diet. The plantain peels meal enhanced performance at early stage of life of the birds and the cost of feed very effective. The experiment was done under intensive management system. Plantain peels meal may be useful as cost effective ingredient in the ration of local birds at relatively safe level during the early stages of life of the bird. Therefore, PPM can be used in profitable poultry production. The composition of feed and performance of the birds fed plantain peels meal are shown in the Tables 30 to 33.



The local fowl has suffered neglect until now and may likely be extinct in future since there is no plan in place to sustain their production in Nigeria. At present there is global dwindling of poultry genetic resources attributable to the intense industrialization and near monopoly of industrial stock by a few (Rose, 1997). There is a growing concern and a felt need for conservation (Crawford, 1999). The local fowl in Nigeria is endangered and possesses traits of current and future economic importance and scientific interest. Data on population are necessary in planning selection and breeding programs aimed at improving the productive potentials and conservation of native chicken. The bulk of animal protein that is consumed in the rural areas is mostly derived from the local fowl.
To bridge the gap in shortage of animal protein, ensure food security and alleviate poverty of rural population in Nigeria, local fowl improvement and production are keys to open doors to better nutrition and rural economic empowerment. Malnutrition, disease and poverty ravage the rural dwellers where an average family lives on an income of less than a dollar per day (FAO, 2008; UNDP, 2007). Domestic chickens essentially contribute to human nutrition, play a crucial role in fundamental and applied research, and provide an enjoyable source of human entertainment and leisure time activities (Delany, 2000). The review presented efforts made towards providing information, establishing standards and enhancing performance on the fowl.


The authors have not declared any conflict of interest.


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