To start the native chicken project, it is necessary to select breeders to be used. The performance of chicks that will be produced depends on the kind of breeder the raiser has. Also, selection aids the raiser to establish the kind and quality of products that the consumers prefer. Below are some guides in selecting the native breeder hens.

darag native chicken

Body conformation should be like the shape of a banana blossom. Shape of the breast to the tip of the keel area should feel like that of a banana blossom; no physical deformities; well-groomed; have alert eyes and red comb; wide and pliable vent; and good mothering ability.

The rooster should be masculine in appearance, aggressive but caring, and have a big and proportionate body. Remember that the rooster contributes 50% of the characteristics of the chicks that these breeders would produce.

Breeds and Breeding
Present market for native chicken demands for Darag native chicken. It is the strain of native chicken that possesses a distinctive taste compared to others. In its absence, the mongrels can be used. This chicken has a bloodline of Darag but have a different plumage color.

The ratio of rooster to hen should be within 1: 7-10. Rooster should be changed every year to prevent inbreeding that may lead to abnormalities or deformities among the offspring. Hen could lay as much as 18 – 20 eggs per clutch. This number can be reached by collecting the eggs of hen in the nest everyday leaving only two to three eggs. The eggs should be stored under room temperature. Return the eggs in the nest when the hen shows broodiness.

Culling should be done among hens every three years. It was observed that when the hen reaches this age, the egg production level decreases and its meat is tougher when cooked. It lays fewer eggs per clutch and the chicks hatched are weak. Hens showing similar poor egg production, obesity, poor vitality, or have developed physical deformities should also be culled even at their younger age.

When raising chicken whether for family consumption or for the market, it would be good practice to provide the birds with housing for their safety against draft and other bad elements that may adversely affect their production. The house should be well-ventilated but protected against strong wind or inclement weather. The site should not be prone to flooding, away from dense human population and main roads, secure from theft and harmful animals. If it can not be avoided that the project is located in an urban area, it should conform with the zoning of the locality.

The surroundings must be planted with wind breakers to protect the housing and the chickens. There are lots of plants that can be used as wind breakers such as banana, fruit trees like datiles, and many others. These plants not only give shade and protection, but also fruits and source of naturally occurring feedstuffs. Shed type of roofing is highly recommended for this purpose. The housing gives the comfort needed by chicken for there is free circulation of air in and out of the building. A roll-up curtain (kenaf) should be provided so that in times of bad weather, it can be pulled down to give protection to the chickens.

Chicks aging from day old to 30 days should be put inside the brooder where temperature can be adjusted to meet the comfort zone of the chicks. But in places without electricity or when the raiser wants to save on expenses, fostering is ideal. A hen can be a foster to 50 chicks at a time. Intensive brooding should be provided from day old to 15 days after which, the chicks can be on free range together with their foster hen. During the night, the chicks with their hen should be put inside the brooder for nocturnal predators and also to account the number of chicks. It is at this stage that chicks require intensive care. The future of the project lies on the rate of chicks survival. The higher the rate of survival, the greater is the number of chicken that can be sold after three and a half to four months.

Chicks should be separated from the older ones to protect them from crushing and have enough room for feeding. They are weak to protect themselves from the older ones, giving them less chance of getting the right amount of feeds during feeding. Besides, their body defense mechanism is not well developed yet, hence, are less resistant to diseases and parasite infestation.

At one month and a half months of age, chicks can be grown together with the rest of the flock until they are ready for market. At this age, they should already be hardened and are expected to adapt to the environment and the competition from the older members of the flock. Housing for breeder can also be used for growers and fatteners.

Cleanliness should be strictly maintained in and out of the house. Remove dirt, feces, and unnecessary things inside the house. This is one way of protecting the flock from diseases and infestation of parasites.

Feeds and Feeding
Despite that fact that native chicken can survive under minimal care, supplemental feeding is suggested. This is to help meet the nutrient requirement of the fowl. The availability of naturally-occurring feedstuffs depends on the months of the year. Continuous free-ranging of the chickens also depletes the resources especially if their number exceeds the carrying capacity of the range.

Following are the suggested feedstuffs for formulating home-mixed rations: rice bran, kangkong, banana stems, and madre de kakaw leaf meal. Rice bran must comprise 50-70% of the ration. Other materials can be mixed depending on their availability. This kind of ration is ideal during rainy months. During summer, fresh rice hull and palay and/or corn grits will do. The rice hull can also serve as litter material in the housing. This can be fed to breeders.

For day-old to one month old chicks, chick booster crumble feeds is given. This is readily available in the market. Growers and fatteners can be fed with the mixture of milled palay, corn, and when available, sorghum.

Feed chickens between 7:00 to 8:00 in the morning and 3:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon. Chicks should be fed in feeding trough made of either GI sheet, bamboo, or any locally available resources. Broadcasting of grain on the ground can be done on dry conditions. It is a rule of thumb that fine feeds should be put in feeding trough.

Other Cultural Management Practices
What follows are routine to be done in a native chicken project:

Always check the nest of the hen before laying and after hatching of the eggs. Clean the nest from contaminated nesting materials and replace it with new ones. Before putting the materials make sure that these were sun dried for one day. This is to get rid of any insects present on it. Leaves of adgao, sibukao, and kakawate are just some of the few examples that can be used as nesting materials. During brooding stage, the infestation of mites is very prevalent. Mites suck the blood of the hen. Farmers usually use the leaves of adgao as nesting material to prevent mite infestation. But Sevin powder can also be used by spreading the powder in between layers of nesting materials to control this ecto-parasite.

Have the chicks and hen get inside of the brooder before night. The brooder should be clean every day. During inclement weather condition, pull down the roll-up canvass or kenaf curtain to conserve heat and protect the birds from strong winds. Make sure that rats and snakes cannot enter the brooder.

Vaccinate the chicks against New Castle Diseases using the La Sota B1B1 at 7-10 days old, giving one drop per bird by intra-ocular, intranasal, or intra-cloacal method. This should be followed up on at 28-35 days with plain La Sota, mixed in the drinking water. Make sure that the chick is healthy before administering the vaccine. The presence of any disease on the fowl will lead to its mortality. So, when the chick is suspected to be sick, it is advised to cure the disease first.

Collect the feces everyday specially under the roost and brooder. Put it in a container before using it for another purpose. This is one way of preventing the decomposition of it and emitting noxious gases that may harm the flock. The feces can be used for vermi-composting as long as it is fully decomposed. It increases in temperature during the decomposition that will destruct the growing worm on it.

Disinfect the housing once or twice a month. There are many kinds of disinfectant available in the market. Disinfection is killing of all pathogenic microorganisms present in the vicinity of the project. Foot path should also be sprayed with it.

Cost and Return Analysis
Below is the estimated cost of raising 10 heads of Darag native chicken. This will serve as reference only to those who want to raise few breeders.

There is no problem when it comes to marketing of native chicken. Chicken aging four to six months old have high demand and command a good price. Each head may cost P150 for live and P175 for dressed. Middlemen, processors, quack doctors, and walk-in individuals are the common buyers of native chicken. This author sells his chickens to bank employees, university faculty and staff, and to other farmers. The chickens are sold either live or dressed.

(Note: there is a need to further study the cost and return analysis, and indicate assumptions.—Editor)

For more Information, Contact:
Western Visayas Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium
University of the Philippines Visayas
General Luna St., 5000 Iloilo City
Telefax: (033)335-0630

Source: Joselito T. Pudadera Magsasaka Siyentista, WESVARRDEC