Author(s): Gunaratne SP, Chandrasiri AD, Hemalatha WA, Roberts JA
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Abstract The productivity of a population of scavenging village chickens in Sri Lanka has been assessed, and the scavenging feed resource base has been measured and analysed. The laying period lasted 34 +/- 13 days and the batch size was about 20 eggs. The households ate 71\% of the egg production. The mean egg weight was 48 g and the mean size of a set of eggs was 9.4. The hatching percentage was 67 +/- 32 and the liveweight at 70 days averaged 313 g with a range of 142 to 492, by which time 65\% of the chicks hatched had died. The age at first lay averaged 211 days when the pullets weighed 1,160 g. The broody period lasted from 3 weeks to 4 months depending on whether the hen hatched eggs, and for how long she tended the brood. The laying hens were actively scavenging for most of the daylight hours. The average amount of scavenged feed per household flock per day was 550 g dry weight with a proximate composition of 9.4\% crude protein, 9.2\% ether extract and 5.4\% crude fibre. More than 70\% of the feed intake was household refuse (27\% cooked rice, 30\% coconut residue, 8\% broken rice and 36\% other scraps). The remainder was from the environment (13\% grass shoots, 8\% small metazoans and 7\% paddy rice). Proximate analyses of crop contents, household refuse and its major components were carried out. Dietary Ca and P levels were low in the village, as were plasma levels of these minerals. On a balanced commercial diet plasma Ca was still lower than that of hybrid commercial chickens. Suggestions are made for improving the productivity of the scavenging system with no requirement for inputs, and with inputs.
This article was published in Trop Anim Health Prod
and referenced in Journal of Petroleum & Environmental Biotechnology