Performance, carcass characteristics and meat quality of two broiler strains reared outdoor in tropical climates
Due to the dearth of information on the response of poultry managed in alternative production systems to seasonal fluctuations, a total of 240 day old chicks from Arbor acre and Marshall strains were used for both dry and wet seasons trials. Birds were brooded for 3 weeks and thereafter acclimatized in outdoor runs for a week before the commencement of the experiment. Sixty birds each of both strains which were sub-divided into three replicates of 20 birds each were used for both dry and wet seasons. At the end of the experiments, two birds per replicate were selected and slaughtered for carcass yield and meat quality comparison. Data obtained were subjected to analysis of variance in a Completely Randomized Design. Higher total feed intake (4,107.94 g/bird) and poorer Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR ) (3.80) were recorded in birds reared in the wet season while mortality was significantly (p<0.05) higher (17.87%) in the dry season. Also, strain significantly (p<0.05) influenced the final weight, weight gain and FCR. Interaction between season and strain significantly (p<0.05) influenced all performance parameters except feed intake. Similarly, live, plucked and dressed weights, dressing percentage and breast were significantly (p<0.05) higher (1928.00 g, 1782.50 g, 1413.50 g, 73.32% and 21.02 %, respectively) in Arbor acre broiler chickens. Also, ether extract content of the pectoralis major was significantly (p<0.05) higher (14.44%) in birds reared in the dry season but on the contrary, High Density Lipoprotein content was higher (60.78 mg/dl) in the wet season. Hence, outdoor rearing of Arbor acre broilers in wet season had better feed conversion and carcass yield with pectoralis major meat rich in high density lipoprotein content than obtainable in the dry season.