Prospects of quality protein maize as feed for indigenous chickens in Zimbabwe: A review
Indigenous chickens (IC) play an important role in African rural household settings, particularly in improving their livelihoods. However, IC production is characterised by low productivity due to poor quality and quantity of feed, compounded by poor management practises. This dire situation is aggravated by the fact that IC are raised under extensive systems, supplemented with meagre grain supplements. They are a hardy poultry species and as a result most farmers assume that their nutritional requirements can be met through scavenging. To the contrary, analysis of crop contents has shown that IC nutritional intake levels are often below optimum for production. To enhance the productivity of IC, there is urgent need to explore the use of alternative nutritionally rich feed stuffs. One of such ingredients is Quality Protein Maize (QPM). Quality protein maize contains elevated levels of lysine and tryptophan, compared to non-QPM. The objective of this article is to review the prospects of QPM as feed for IC, through a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis. Due to its superior nutritional quality, QPM has the potential to enhance growth rate, carcass characteristics and immunity of indigenous chickens. However, QPM is still a new technology in Zimbabwe; most farmers are not aware of its existence. There is, therefore, need for policies and infrastructural adjustments to promote its widespread adoption. Furthermore, there is need for feeding trials as they provide concrete evidence of the benefits of this kind of maize.
Key words: Carcass quality, quality protein maize, supplementary feed