Unlike exotic breeds, they consume less feed they are tolerant to most diseases and have a ready market.
Poultry keeping has many benefits for small-scale farmers. But farmers need not keep chickens just for their own home consumption in terms of eggs and meat. They need to rear them to generate a reasonable income to improve their income. For a long time now, farmers with an eye on the market believe that one can only keep hybrid or exotic breeds for this purpose. Indigenous chickens, if well selected in terms of breed can bring much more income, if not better than the exotic breeds. One of the factors a farmer should look at when going into poultry production of either indigenous or exotic chickens is the cost of production and the market including prices of each of these breeds.
Advantages of indigenous breeds
Indigenous chickens have many advantages over exotic breeds. One advantage is that indigenous chickens can be fed on home-made feed rations and they can also be allowed to free range, therefore cutting down the amount of feed that the farmer has to give them. Unlike exotic breeds, indigenous are tolerant to many diseases, which reduces the veterinary costs. Although exotic breeds are highly productive in terms of eggs and meat, the cost of keeping them including management is a big challenge to farmers. This makes indigenous chickens much more attractive to keep.
Recently researchers have come up with more productive indigenous breeds such as the Improved KARI Naivasha breed, which lays more eggs than ordinary indigenous breeds. An exotic breed such as the Leghorn can lay upto 300 eggs in a year, but the improved indigenous breed from KARI can produce 220 – 250 eggs under good management. Below is a comparison of the gross profit margins between exotic breed and improved indigenous chicken breed, which can help farmers make a decision on which type of breed is more economical to keep.