Monday, February 13, 2017

Raising Native Chickens

Philippine Native Chickens

During my youth, we had a large family compound. Although we had a front fence, there were no fences between houses and a creek ran at our back yard. I grew up familiar with chickens, ducks, geese and even pheasants. The chickens were native of course and they ranged freely, laid eggs and their eggs hatched and they had chicks, same way with the geese, ducks and pheasants. It was rare that they had to be butchered since we bought our eggs and chickens for food from the public market. They were more or less treated as pets and part of the clan wealth.

The Vantress and Peterson chickens were part of my science experiment in grade school and I managed to breed them and they grew faster than the native chickens and they were also bigger. But they were not for consumption too since they were my “experiment.

As time went on, the need for increasing the sizes of the houses in the compound meant that there will be less space for them. The time came that the native chickens, ducks and other fowls died out and they no longer bred. It was my science experiments that survived the longest but they were no longer free ranging but were kept in coops.

Little that I know that the time will come when native chickens would be scarce in our community and can be only available in the public market. 

I the current setting, native chickens are still raised in rural areas and accounts for 46% of the country’s total chicken population (76 million). Being native chickens, they catch a premium price in the mrket and is a source of additional income for the poor rural households.

Recognizing this, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD) through its Industry Strategic Science and Technology Program (ISP) for Native Chicken, has developed guidelines to enhance these raisers’ pastures and range areas to further improve production.

As with our past experience, native chickens must have a large but confining area. The chickens are free range as it is called now. The chickens can forage for their own food while having an environment where they can even ensconce themselves in the dirt and soil. 

Thus, DOST-PCAARD developed range enhancement strategies and supplemental feeding protocols. These will enable the owners of the chicken to maximize their income potential with healthier native chickens that can then be sold in the market.

A combination of farm-mixed feed and commercial feed is also encouraged and part of the management process for native chickens. Fresh drinking water must also be provided at all times.  Kitchen discards can form part of the nutritional requirements of the chickens. It is recommended by DOST-PCAARRD that a range area of at least two- meter per bird is recommended for free range area.  Vegetation may be planted which would serve as food for breeder chickens.

The planting of edible vegetation improves the quality of the existing range area for native chicken. Good quality forages are nutritious, palatable, highly digestible, and non-toxic and has anti-nutrient compounds. Some forage species are carabao grass, pinto peanut, Madre de Agua, Guinea grass, signal grass, and centrosema.

Other forage species include ‘gabi’, ‘malunggay’, Azolla, and duckweeds.

Raisers may also opt to use kitchen waste and farm by-products such as ‘sapal,’ rice/corn bran, fruit rinds, kitchen waste/leftover food, and vegetable rejects  such as ‘pechay,’ ‘kangkong,’ ‘mustasa,’ sweetpotato, and ‘alugbati.’ Fresh drinking water should be provided at all times.

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The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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