Livestock Research for Rural Development 29 (4) 2017 Guide for preparation of papers LRRD Newsletter

Citation of this paper

Performance evaluation of the disseminated exotic chickens in three agro-Ecologies of North Gondar Zone, Ethiopia

Addis Getu, Tegegn Fantahun1, Addisu Hailu and Belete Halie

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Gondar, Ethiopia
1 Department of Animal Science, Mizan-Tepi University, Ethiopia


Performance evaluation of exotic chicken was conducted from 2014 to 2015 in three districts (Maksegnit from Midland, Metema from lowland and Debark from Highland) of north Gondar zone. After confirmatory field observation, the districts were selected purposively based on distribution and abundance exotic chicken ecotypes and their dynamics. Following that, a total of 180 chicken owners were selected using systematic simple random sampling. Descriptive statistics, Welixen ranks test and means was compared with Tukey comparison test.

The result of the study showed that the dominant flock structures were chicks followed by hens with a total flock size of 6.11±0.92. The flock size was not significantly different across the three agro- ecologies. The mean age at first sexual maturity for males was 5.76±0.13 and for females 5.43±0.14 months. The average number of egg incubated and egg produced per year was 15±2.50 and 116.08±0.41, respectively. Most respondents mentioned that disease was the first ranked constraint in all areas followed by feed shortages. Rhode Island Red and White Leghorn were the most distributed exotic chicken breeds.   According to the findings of this research, all exotic chickens had better performance in extensive farming systems which helped to develop cross breeding scheme. Thus, performances and adaptive variations might create important opportunities for genetic improvement through selection and crossbreeding of the exotic chickens.

Key word: constraint, reproductive performance


Indigenous chickens’ are better in adaptation, resistant to low management, feed shortages and tolerate to diseases, even if their genetic potential is poor (Alemu 1995; Gueye 1998; Tadelle et al 2000). Due to poor in genetic make-up they needed improving their genetic part through selection and cross breeding (Peters 2008; Adedeji et al 2008; Nimbkar et al 2008; Adebambo et al 2009). The productive and reproductive performance of exotic chicken are better and produce higher number of eggs and more meat than local chickens (Ali et al 2000; Islam and Nishibori 2009). In Ethiopia performance evaluation among crossed, local and exotic chickens were conducted from different research and development organizations and the overall performance of the crossed F1 breed is better than either of the native or exotic parents under the existing production systems due to hybrid vigor (Alemu 1995; Tadelle et al 1999). The new cross breeds are also well resistant to harsh tropics and produced a reasonable amount of egg and meat (Iraqi et al 2005; Mekki et al 2005).


The total poultry population in Ethiopia is estimated to be about 50.38 million. With regard to breed, 96.9 percent, 0 .54 percent and 2.56 percent of the total poultry were reported to be indigenous, hybrid and exotic, respectively (CSA 2013). However, the productivity of indigenous chickens is very low. To overcome this problem cross breeding of indigenous with high producing temperate breeds has been exercised since 1990s. However, exotic as well as cross breeds did not equally perform with indigenous breeds in low input (scavenging) production system (Teklewold et al 2006). In addition to cross breeding performance evaluation, adaptability is another additional issue with individual performance has been identified (Rosario et al 2008). So, comprehensive performance evaluation of randomly disseminated exotic chickens and their crosses were not studied in the area. Therefore, this study was initiated to evaluate the productive and reproductive performance of the disseminated exotic chickens and production constraints in North Gondar zone.

Materials and Methods

Description of the Study Area


The study area, North Gondar is located in north-western part of Ethiopia. It has a human population of nearly 2.9 million (CSA, 2007). According to the CSA (2013) report, the study area has 2.77 million cattle, 8.16 thousand sheep, 1.25 million goats and 3.63 million poultry. The altitude ranges from 4620 meters in the Semen Mountain in the North to 550 meters in the western parts of the study area and rainfall varies from 880 mm to 1772 mm from a monomial distribution with the maximum temperature of 44.5oC in the West and minimum temperature of –10oC in the highland (CSA 2011). The same source indicated that the area is also characterized by two seasons, the wet season, from June to September and the dry season from October to May.


Sampling Techniques and Frame Works


First confirmatory field observation were undertaken to know distribution and abundance of chicken each blood levels. Then, purposively three districts (Maksegnit from Midland, Metema from lowland and Debark from Highland) and 60 respondents per agro- ecology with a total of 180 respondents were selected. Three Peasant associations (PAs) (20 respondents/Pas) were selected from each district based on distribution and abundance exotic chicken ecotypes and their dynamics. Following that, systematic simple random sampling was used to select chicken owners from each PAs. 


Group discussion: focus group discussion containing 12 members were conducted to generate information per PAs. Members of the focused groups were communally know to have a good understanding in animal breeding, people believed to be knowledgeable about past and present social and economic status of the area, community leaders and story tellers. Professionals from the local livestock development agents at each PAs were also participate in the group discussions.


Data Collection and Its Procedure


Data from questionnaire: household socio-economic characteristics, husbandry practices, flock structure, flock size, flock type, performance of chickens, egg production potential, first age for meat, first age for egg production and egg number per year was collected by individual or family interview.


Data from focus group discussion: general understanding of the society on the cross breeding, mating control of the society, to select areas of dominated by crossed chicken, and also pioneer information on respondent selection based on agro ecology was considered.


Ranking Trial: Ranking trial was undertaken to studying the major constraints of chickens. Participants were asked to rank the first, second, third, fourth and fifth major constraints. The respondents mentioned so many reasons. But, only five mentioned reasons were taken based on the current production mode and future improvements.


Data Management and Statistical Technique


Data were managed both in hard and softcopies with the act of back correction to the respondents’ house. Microsoft Excel computer program was considered for data coding and entry.  Following that briefly summarizing and simple descriptive statistics was used to analyze the data by using SAS Software program (SAS ver. 9.0 2002).  Tukey comparison test was used to compare sub factor means separately that was brought significant difference (P<0.05). Welixen ranks test also used for data analysis.


Socio Economic Characteristics


The most frequently distributed sex of the participants in the study was males than females with the proportion of 60 and 40% in that order. Majority of households were unable to read and write (65%) and 67.78% of them were married.  Generally, the socio economic characteristics of the respondents are presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Socio-economic characteristics of chicken owners of the study area


Sex (n=180)

Educational level (n=180)

Marital status (n=180)



Unable to read
and write

Read and

Primary education
and above













































Flock sizes and structure


The dominant flock structure of chicken in the study area was chicks followed by hens as shown in Table 2. The average flock size and structure of chickens kept per household was 6.07±0.59, 2.47±0.26, 1.02±0.15, 2.00±0.19 and 1.11±0.11 for chicks, hens, pullets, cockerels and cocks, respectively with a total flock size of 6.11±0.92. In the current study, the flock size was not significantly different in the three agro-ecologies (p > 0.05).

Table 2: Flock size and structures of exotic chickens in North Gondar zone (LSM ± SE)


Study Sites




Overall mean





6.07± 0.59










1.02± 0.15





2.00± 0.19











Productive and Reproductive Performances of Exotic Chickens


Average productive and reproductive performances of exotic chickens were characterized as shown in Table 3. The present finding shown that mean age at first male sexual maturity was 6±0.27, 5.65±0.14 and 5.13±0.20 months and as well as first female sexual maturity was 4.70±0.27, 5.50±0.17 and 6.08±0.20 months in White leghorn, Rhode island red and Koekoek exotic chickens, respectively. The result of age at first male sexual maturity showed that Koekoek was significantly different from White Leghorn while Rhode Island Red was not significantly differ from both breed. White Leghorn reached earlier for age at first female sexual maturity and significantly different from Rhode Island Red and Koekoek. There is no significant difference in number of egg incubated but significant difference in was observed in number of eggs produced per year between the three breeds. Maximum and minimum number of eggs produced per year was recorded in White Leghorn and Koekoek, respectively.

Table 3: Performance aspect of different exotic chickens in North Gondar zone (LSM±SE)


Major Exotic Chickens

White Leghorn

Rhode Island Red



AFMSM (Month)





AFFSM (Month)





No. of egg incubated





Egg No./ year





AFMSM: Age at First Male Sexual Maturity; AFFSM = Age at First Female Sexual Maturity;
abc Means in the same row without common letter are different at P<0.05

Distribution and Supply Satisfaction Trends


About 89.44% of the respondents stated that the distribution of exotic chickens was irregularly and not satisfactory (91.11%). The distribution trends were inconsistent and more were supplied by the government. Rhode Island Red and White Leghorn were the commonly distributed in the study area as presented in Fig. 1.

Figure 1. Sources, distribution trends and supply satisfaction level of exotic chickens
Major Constraints Exotic Chickens Production


Major constraints are presented in Table 4. Most respondents, frequently mentioned disease was the first ranked constraint in all area whereas feed shortage was the second problem that affects the chicken production in the area with the weighted index value of 0.27 and 0.17. In addition to the above market facilities including access to feed availability was the other important bottlenecks of the society.

Table 4. Rating of major constraints in the study area





Weighted Value


0.21 (1)

0.18 (2)

0.14 (5)

0.27 (1)


0.20 (2)

0.15 (4)

0.09 (6)

0.17 (2)


0.15 (3)

0.21 (1)

0.18 (3)

0.15 (3)


0.15 (3)

0.15 (4)

0.23 (1)

0.14 (4)


0.15 (3)

0.17 (3)

0.17 (4)

0.14 (4)


0.15 (3)

0.14 (5)

0.19 (2)

0.13 (5)

Welixen ranks test, constraints within a column bearing different numbers are significant
different from each other. The importance of constraints was rated based attributed to
productions by individual respondents; most important = 1, least important = 6


This was a good agreement to Gueye (1998) who reported that the flock sizes generally ranged from 5 to 20 fowls per African village households. However, lower results was also conducted by  Mekonnen (2007) for Dale district in Ethiopia, mean flock size of 8.8 and 9.2 chickens/ household, respectively. Further similar report was carried out on the average flock size per household was 16 in the central parts of Ethiopia and in the Kwale district of the south coast of Kenya (Tadelle et al 2003). Further, Halima et al (2007) reported that about 7.1 flock sizes per households were characterized.  Finally, the respondents noted that flock size is not always the same mainly due to chicken used as source of immediate farmers’ expense, occurrence of diseases and parasite. The lower proportion of the cockerels and cock within the chicken population were observed. Thus, small numbers had given the fact that due to selling of cockerels and cocks for immediate expense and sharing of breeding males for those small number hens in the village. In agreement to the current finding, most of poultry flock structures in Ethiopia are chicks (38.91 percent), followed by laying hens (32.77 percent) (CSA 2013).


In this result average age at first female sexual maturity was much earlier than the local chicken performance of 6.8 months (Tadelle et al 2003) and later than 5 months (Halima 2007). This indicated that the better performance of the exotic breeds in egg production could be the genetic potential. Constraints aren’t different from those reported by others in Ethiopia such as Halima (2007) who reported that the main constraint was feed and diseases.



We would like to thank University of Gondar for its contribution on budget and time support. We would also like to acknowledge farmers and experts participated in the research work.


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Received 26 July 2016; Accepted 19 October 2016; Published 1 April 2017

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