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Phenotypic and morphological characterization of indigenous chicken populations in southern region of Ethiopia

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Phenotypic characterization of indigenous chicken resources is a prerequisite for their rational utilization. Data were collected from 748 randomly selected households (HHs) using structured questionnaires. Visual appraisal was conducted to study morphological traits of indigenous chicken populations. Quantitative data were collected on body weight and shank length from both sexes. The results indicated that 55.0 percent of chicken populations were single combed followed by rose (28.5 percent) and pea (15.2 percent) combs. Yellow was the major shank colour (52.5 percent), followed by white (29.1 percent) and black (14.7 percent). About 46.4, 34.2 and 19.4 percent of chicken populations exhibited red, white and yellow earlobes, respectively. The predominant plumage colour was Kei (36.6 percent) followed by Tikur (20.7 percent), Gebsima (15.3 percent), Netch (12.3 percent), Kokima (8.4 percent), Wosera (3.7 percent), Zigrima (1.7 percent) and Zagolima (1.3 percent). The highest adult body weight was found in Naked-neck chickens (1.7 kg), followed by Kei (1.5 kg), Gebsima (1.45 kg) and Wosera (1.46 kg). The Naked-neck and Wosera males had the longest shank of 115 and 113 mm, respectively. Kei male chickens had large body weight shank length ratio compared with other indigenous chickens. The present study suggests that indigenous chicken populations might possess useful genetic potentials for improved productivity under scavenging feed resource-based production systems.
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... In addition, limitations in methodology and a lack of concrete conclusions in terms of population differentiation were observed in most of the earlier characterization studies. For example, the region-wide chicken characterization study by Melesse and Negesse (2011) did not measure the most important linear measurements (wingspan, body length, chest and shank circumference) and failed to provide concrete conclusions. ...
... On the other hand, their shank length measurements were comparable. According to Melesse and Negesse (2011), the shank length is considered a good indicator of adaptation to lowland areas and skeletal development, which is related to the amount of meat a chicken can carry. This shows their high adaptability to the lowland areas of the pastoral and agropastoral community. ...
... Observable qualitative characteristics, in addition to the quantitative measurements, have allowed us to characterize, identify and differentiate the studied chicken populations. Dana et al (2010), Bekele et al (2015), Melesse and Negesse (2011) reported normal feather morphology and distribution in the majority of indigenous chicken populations in Ethiopia's southern region that are comparable with the results of the current study. Melesse (2000) described the nakedneck gene as one of the main genes responsible for heat tolerance of some Ethiopian indigenous chicken populations by improving and enhancing heat dissipation due to the reduction in feather coverage. ...
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Thirteen qualitative and six quantitative variables taken from 303 adult chickens (95 cocks and 208 hens) from three locations/districts were used to phenotypically characterize the indigenous chicken populations in pastoral areas of South Omo Zone, Ethiopia. The studied traits were influenced by the effect of location and sex, where chicken populations from Hamer district and females of all districts were the smallest and lightest. Qualitative characteristics of the studied chicken populations such as normal feather morphology and distribution, plain plumage pattern, flat head shape, triangular body shape, and dominant red eye, earlobe and plumage colour suggest that they constitute previously undescribed populations. Chest circumference, wingspan and body length were the three most important morphometric traits used in discriminating the studied chicken populations. On average, 61% of the sampled populations were classified correctly into their respective locations. The multivariate analysis results discriminate the chicken populations into two groups: the Hamer group and the Omo group (chickens from Bena Tsemay and Male districts). However, such grouping should be confirmed and advanced to ecotype level using further genetic characterization studies as the observed phenotypic differences might be due to genetic or environmental variations. Such confirmation is important to design breeding programmes (for sustainable utilization) specific to each ecotype.
... Naked-neck chickens have higher body weight and body length than local cocks, which corresponds to the findings of Melesse and Negesse (2011) for chickens raised in SNNPRS, Ethiopia; Assefa and Melesse (2018) for chickens raised in Sheka zone of South Western Ethiopia; and Ige et al. (2012) for Nigerian chicken. ...
... Naked-neck cocks have longer shank than normal local cocks, which is consistent with the reports of Assefa and Melesse (2018). This confirms the findings of Melesse and Negesse (2011) and Assefa and Melesse (2018) who reported that Naked-neck chickens possess better bone length as shank length is considered a good indicator of skeletal development, which is related to the amount of meat a chicken can carry (Melesse and Negesse, 2011). The average wingspan of local cocks in our study was similar to those reported from Northwest Algeria (Dahloum et al., 2016) and three districts of Northern Ethiopia (Getu et al., 2014) but were lower than those reported from local cocks of Southern Ethiopia (Tareke et al., 2018), Sheka Zone of South Western Ethiopia (Assefa and Melesse, 2018), Tanzanian Indigenous male Chickens (Guni and Katule, 2013), Penedesenca and Empordanesa chicken breeds of Spain (Francesch et al., 2011), indigenous male chickens of Bench Maji Zone, South Ethiopia (Bekele et al., 2015), and intensively managed Nigerian indigenous and exotic cocks (Ajayi et al., 2012). ...
... Naked-neck cocks have longer shank than normal local cocks, which is consistent with the reports of Assefa and Melesse (2018). This confirms the findings of Melesse and Negesse (2011) and Assefa and Melesse (2018) who reported that Naked-neck chickens possess better bone length as shank length is considered a good indicator of skeletal development, which is related to the amount of meat a chicken can carry (Melesse and Negesse, 2011). The average wingspan of local cocks in our study was similar to those reported from Northwest Algeria (Dahloum et al., 2016) and three districts of Northern Ethiopia (Getu et al., 2014) but were lower than those reported from local cocks of Southern Ethiopia (Tareke et al., 2018), Sheka Zone of South Western Ethiopia (Assefa and Melesse, 2018), Tanzanian Indigenous male Chickens (Guni and Katule, 2013), Penedesenca and Empordanesa chicken breeds of Spain (Francesch et al., 2011), indigenous male chickens of Bench Maji Zone, South Ethiopia (Bekele et al., 2015), and intensively managed Nigerian indigenous and exotic cocks (Ajayi et al., 2012). ...
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The northern part of Ethiopia is endowed with local and exotic breeds of chicken; however, their morphometric characterization needs to be done to support future improvements and conservation. Hence, the study was conducted in three agro-ecologies (lowland, midland, and highland) of Northern Ethiopia to assess the morphometric traits of local and exotic (Naked-neck) chicken genotypes. The experiment was designed as 4x2 factorial with Chicken genotype (4 levels: local from each of lowland, midland and highland, and exotic from lowland) and Sex (2 levels: female and male) being the factors. ANOVA was conducted to determine the main and interaction effects of these factors on 21 morphometric traits. The results revealed significant interaction of Chicken genotype and Sex on all morphometric traits other than skull length, skull width, skull index and neck length highlighting the presence of vast sex specific differences among the genotypes. Apart from comb, earlobe and beak indices and wattle width, male Naked-neck (from lowland) have significantly higher values than the other seven combinations. The morphometric variations of chicken genotypes unveiled in this study are good indicators of genetic diversity of chicken population in Northern Ethiopia and calls for designing community based genetic improvement program to maximize desirable traits.
... Even if the indigenous chicken populations of Ethiopia are commonly nondescript in phenotype and genotype, certain specific ecotypes are documented based on morphological variations in their natural locations (Tadelle, Kijora, and Peters 2003;Hassen et al. 2009). These local chickens mainly show a great variation in their body size, conformation, plumage colour, comb type, feather cover and certain morphologic and production characteristics (Hassen 2007;Nigussie et al. 2010;Aberra and Tegene 2011;Negassa, Melesse, and Benerjee 2014). The same authors revealed that these variations have been recognised by their adaptive nature in different production environments. ...
... Besides, economic needs smallholder farmers keep local chickens to satisfy their cultural and religious needs as well (Nigussie et al. 2010;Aberra and Tegene 2011). For example, Zemelak, Weigend, and Brockmann (2011) indicated the significance and influences of plumage colour on the local chicken rearing and considered by farmers that can affect consumers' preference. ...
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Chicken production is a vital part of livestock production in Ethiopia. Amongst others, it provides economic, cultural and religious benefits. With few intensive chicken farms in and around cities, the major production system is traditional chicken farming that supports more than 85% of producers and sources of major egg and chicken meat supplies. Unimproved local chickens are commonly used which are characterised by low egg production, late-maturing and long brooding behaviour. As a result, various exotic chicken breeds were imported to different parts of the country with an aim to improve egg and meat production. So far, more than 20 exotic chicken breeds were introduced. The crossbreeding strategy had shown a certain extent of positive impact at both smallholder and intensive farming conditions. However, it was criticised for unplanned implementation, uncontrolled and indiscriminate crossbreeding that led to a genetic dilution of local genotype and reduction in performances of improved breeds under extensive systems. Moreover, it has resulted in the erosion of adaptive local genetic resources to various stressful tropical environments. So, many research findings confirm, the unsustainability of crossbreeding attempts under farmer’s management conditions and in search for optional strategies. As result, a selective breeding (Horro chicken breed) and synthetic breed (DZ-white) were developed and showed better performance under on-farm and on-research stations. Recently, improved Horro breeds are at their 11th generation of selection, whereas DZ-white synthetic breed is at the 5th generation. In general, chicken breeding in Ethiopia is known for lacking a sustainable breed improvement plan, limited selective breeding on targeted economic traits, a lack of a working breeding policy and evaluation for genetic gains using records. Therefore, the current mass importation of the exotic breeds is harming local genetic diversity; so it should be minimised and adapted crossbreds could be focused, besides Horro selective breeding and adoption of DZ white synthetic breed.
... Characterization is the initial step for long-term genetic improvement as it provides the basis for any other livestock development interventions and provides information for designing appropriate breeding programs [4]. Phenotypic characterization of breed includes all activities related with the description of the source, development, structure, and populations of quantitative and qualitative characteristics in the defined climatic condition [3]. ...
... The possible reason for higher values of studied quantitative traits in males (Cocks) might be ascribed to the effect of sex hormones, stress on hens during egg formation/ laying and brooding time (which reduce period spent on feeding/ scavenging). The present results were in good agreement with the report of [5,4,14] who stated that male chickens had better performance than females. These differences was also agreement with [12] in Jarso and Horro; [13] in Fogera; [5] in Northwest Ethiopia; and [14]; from North Gonder who reported that differences between sexes may be due to the differential effects of androgens and estrogens hormones on growth. ...
... Besides, Fotsa (2016) supported those plumage colors are a highly heritable trait that can transmit from parents to offspring and caused by a few numbers of genes effect. According to Melesse and Negesse (2011), multi-colorations of plumage in local chickens have some advantages to chickens, which include camouflage against predators. The single comb was the predominant comb-type in the surveyed districts followed by rose, pea, and walnut. ...
... These observations agreed with the findings made by Eiki (2016) which showed that single comb was the commonest type than the other comb types in the lowland of central Namibia. Natural selection and adaptation of certain genes to a particular environment caused differences in comb types (Melesse and Negesse, 2011). ...
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This study was conducted in two districts of Borena zone (Ethiopia), with the objectives to characterize phenotypically the indigenous chicken types in the study sites. The study involved both qualitative and quantitative types of research. A total of 480 chickens (144 male and 336 female) aged more than 6 months for the quantitative study were considered in this study. Descriptive statistics, frequency procedures, general linear model, univariate and multivariate analysis were used with SAS 9.1.3 to analyze the data. SPSS package was used to analyze qualitative data. Qualitative traits such as plumage color, comb type, shank color, eye, earlobe color, and skin color were used for the study. Quantitative traits included: body weight and linear morphometric measurements such as shank length, body length, wattle length, wingspan, chest circumference, comb width, and comb length. The result of this study revealed that white, red, and brown plumage color was dominated in the study area. The local chickens possessed variants in shank color, skin color, comb type, and eye color. White shanks, white skin, single combs, and red earlobe color were predominately seen across both the study districts. The mean body weights of indigenous male and female chickens were 1.623± 0.229 kg and 1.313 ± 0.81 kg, respectively. Large comb, wattle, and long legs were observed in the study areas. Generally, morphological and morphometric variations were observed between and within the indigenous chicken populations, which suggests that there is an opportunity for genetic improvement through selection.  2021 UMZ. All rights reserved.
... In Ethiopia, chicken are widespread and almost every rural family own indigenous chicken, which provide a valuable source of family protein and income. The total chicken population in the country is estimated at50.38 million [1][2][3][4][5]. The majority (97%) of these chickens are maintained under a traditional system with little or no inputs for housing, feeding or health care. ...
... The majority (97%) of these chickens are maintained under a traditional system with little or no inputs for housing, feeding or health care. The most dominant chicken types reared in this system are local ecotypes, which show a large variation in body position, color, comb type and productivity [3,6,4]. Despite their low productivity, the indigenous chickens are known to possess desirable characters such as thermo tolerant, resistant to some disease, good egg and meat flavor, hard eggshells high fertility and hatchability [7]. ...
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As discussed at the result part, this study has done by reviewing different research papers conducted in southern region peoples nations and nationalities regional state, research institute on poultry feed resource availabilities at different agro-ecologies with its’ average cost variability and formulated based on growers and layers feed by considering nutrient content of it. Accordingly, most common feed types identified at highland areas were Kocho, Taro root and Barley midland areas Kocho, Taro root, Barley, maize and sorghum, sweat potato and lowland area maize, Sweat potato. Not only the locally available feed but also concentrated feeds (noug cake, wheat bran, premixes, salt and minerals) were investigated depending on their accessibility/availability. Therefore, considering these all conditions formulation was done with 100% supplementation of feed to overcome with the feed shortage problems of chicken and to enhance production and productivity of them by using those feed types that available at three different agro ecologies (highland, midland and lowland) in the region.
... The Ethiopian local chicken ecotypes are a pool of highly heterogeneous genetic resources (Hassen et al. 2009;Goraga et al., 2012). They demonstrate heterogeneity in production performance (Duguma 2009), morphology and phenotypes (Duguma, 2006;Dana et al., 2010a;Melesse and Negesse, 2011), and individual and ecotype variation in carrying diverse polypathogens as well as parasite loads (Ashenafi et al., 2004;Duguma, 2009;Luu et al., 2013;Bettridge et al., 2014;Sarba et al., 2019). The heterogeneity of local chickens is a dynamic process attributable to continuous selection pressure imposed on them by two broad forces (Duguma, 2009). ...
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Newcastle disease (ND) is a highly contagious viral disease of poultry with high mortality. The local velogenic viral pool of the ND strains influences its severity and occurrence. ND vaccination is the most feasible approach to control the disease. However, some ND-vaccinated groups within chicken populations are susceptible to velogenic ND infection developing outbreaks with marked pathological lesions and shedding of the virus. Vaccine strain-related factors as well as inadequate vaccine application and delivery methods during vaccination might explain the suboptimum ND vaccine efficacy. In this study, however, we propose that host factors may contribute to the suboptimal vaccine efficacy in vaccinated chickens. We, therefore, compared the immune response of five Ethiopian chicken ecotypes to ND immunization in the presence of two reference breeds (Fayoumi and Bovans). All chickens received initial immunization at age of 21 days with HB1 ND vaccine followed by two-times LaSota booster immunization at age 50 and 120 days. Subsequently, serum was collected fortnightly post-vaccination at age 35, 65, and 135 days for immune response analysis using the hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test. HIantibody was significantly higher at days 135 > 65 > 35 in each ecotype following the third, second, and first vaccination, respectively. The different chicken ecotypes had significant differences in HI antibody response to the ND vaccination. Accordingly, the HI titer was significantly higher in Jarso > Cheffe > Fayoumi > Arsi > Bovans > Tepi > Horro suggesting antibody titer and ND vaccine efficacy of the ND vaccine depends on host factors. Moreover, some chicken groups within each ecotype had low HI titer. Chicken ecotypes with weak immune responses may not completely clear the virus from their body; thus, they can serve as a reservoir host by maintaining the ND virus. We conclude that herd immunity level and blanket vaccination program based on the results of a single host genetic group can be misleading during developing and recommending a new vaccine. Hence, understanding the host determinant factors in the immune response during vaccination can lead to improved efficacy and protection against ND in chicken populations.
... Homogenous clusters for measured quantitative traits and their overlaps with distinct niches were used to define ecotypes. Unlike previous efforts made to group Ethiopian indigenous chicken populations on qualitative phenotypes such as comb shape, and feather color (Melesse and Negesse, 2011;FAO, 2012;Negassa et al., 2014;Getachew et al., 2016;Overdijk, 2019), the definition of ecotypes in the present study integrated phenotypic and environmental information. This process included identification of the most contributing environmental variables for habitat suitability, grouping of sample locations into specific niches based on their environmental similarity, and selection of the most useful quantitative traits for population classification purposes. ...
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Smallholder poultry production dominated by indigenous chickens is an important source of livelihoods for most rural households in Ethiopia. The long history of domestication and the presence of diverse agroecologies in Ethiopia create unique opportunities to study the effect of environmental selective pressures. Species distribution models (SDMs) and Phenotypic distribution models (PDMs) can be applied to investigate the relationship between environmental variation and phenotypic differentiation in wild animals and domestic populations. In the present study we used SDMs and PDMs to detect environmental variables related with habitat suitability and phenotypic differentiation among nondescript Ethiopian indigenous chicken populations. 34 environmental variables (climatic, soil, and vegetation) and 19 quantitative traits were analyzed for 513 adult chickens from 26 populations. To have high variation in the dataset for phenotypic and ecological parameters, animals were sampled from four spatial gradients (each represented by six to seven populations), located in different climatic zones and geographies. Three different ecotypes are proposed based on correlation test between habitat suitability maps and phenotypic clustering of sample populations. These specific ecotypes show phenotypic differentiation, likely in response to environmental selective pressures. Nine environmental variables with the highest contribution to habitat suitability are identified. The relationship between quantitative traits and a few of the environmental variables associated with habitat suitability is non-linear. Our results highlight the benefits of integrating species and phenotypic distribution modeling approaches in characterization of livestock populations, delineation of suitable habitats for specific breeds, and understanding of the relationship between ecological variables and quantitative traits, and underlying evolutionary processes.
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From July to November 2019, a study has been carried out in the locality of Ngaoundéré in order to contribute to a better knowledge of exotic hens. For this purpose, 190 improved strain chicks of one day-old with an average weight of 35.49±3.78g were distributed according to the type of feather. They were fed an iso-energetic and iso-proteic feed. Data on phenotype characteristics, growth performance, biometric data and carcass were determined. The main results show that three types of feathering were recorded with 16.4% of hens with bare necks and with feathered pits, 78.1% of hens with feathered pits and 5.5% of hens with normal feathers. The majority of hens were recorded with a single comb (75.3%), round mumps (71.2%), white pits (76.4%), black beaks (47.9%) and brown eyes (75.3%). In terms of zootechnical performance, the highest live weight (1758.00±322.20g) was recorded with naked-necked hens and feathered pits. The highest weekly average weight gain was recorded with yellow eyed hens (111.77±16.63g) followed by bare-necked and feathered pits (107.83±20.06g). Hens expressing the Na and Pti genes showed the best growth performance although carcass yield was not significantly affected by feather type. It was concluded that there is a very high phenotypic diversity in the so-called improved hens. However, despite their great potential, responsible management of this genetic resource should be encouraged in order to avoid genetic erosion of local poultry resources.
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Fitness and adaptation are fundamental characteristics of plant and animal species, enabling them to survive in their environment and to adapt to the inevitable changes in this environment. This is true for both the genetic resources of natural ecosystems as well as those used in agricultural production. Extensive genetic variation exists between varieties/breeds in a species and amongst individuals within breeds. This variation has developed over very long periods of time. A major ongoing challenge is how to best utilize this variation to meet short-term demands whilst also conserving it for longer-term possible use. Many animal breeding programs have led to increased performance for production traits but this has often been accompanied by reduced fitness. In addition, the global use of genetic resources prompts the question whether introduced genotypes are adapted to local production systems. Understanding the genetic nature of fitness and adaptation will enable us to better manage genetic resources allowing us to make efficient and sustainable decisions for the improvement or breeding of these resources. This book had an ambitious goal in bringing together a sample of the world’s leading scientists in animal breeding and evolutionary genetics to exchange knowledge to advance our understanding of these vital issues.
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Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production is the 5th edition of a highly successful book first authored by Dr. Mack O. North in 1972, updated in 1978 and 1984. The 4th edition was co-authored with Donald D. Bell in 1990. The book has achieved international success as a reference for students and commercial poultry and egg producers in every major poultry producing country in the world. The 5th edition is essential reading for students preparing to enter the poultry industry, for owners and managers of existing poultry companies and for scientists who need a major source of scientifically based material on poultry management. In earlier editions, the authors emphasized the chicken and its management. The 5th edition, with the emphasis shifted to the commercial business of managing poultry, contains over 75% new material. The contributions of 14 new authors make this new edition the most comprehensive such book available. Since extensive references are made to the international aspects of poultry management, all data are presented in both the Imperial and Metric form. Over 300 tables and 250 photos and figures support 62 chapters of text. New areas include processing of poultry and eggs with thorough discussions of food safety and further processing. The business of maintaining poultry is discussed in chapters on economics, model production firms, the use of computers, and record keeping. Updated topics include: breeders and hatchery operations; broiler and layer flock management; replacement programs and management of replacements; nutrition; and flock health. New chapters address flock behavior, ventilation, waste management, egg quality and egg breakage. Other new features include a list of more than 400 references and a Master List of the tables, figures, manufacturers of equipment and supplies, research institutions, books and periodicals, breeders, and trade associations. Commercial growers will find the tables of data of particular interest; scientists will be able to utilize the extensive references and to relate their areas of interest to the commercial industry's applications; and students will find that the division of the book into 11 distinct sections, with multiple chapters in each, will make the text especially useful.