Performance of White Leghorn Chickens Breed Maintained at Haramaya University Poultry Farm and Implications for Sustainable Poultry Production
Indigenous chickens in Ethiopia are characterized by slow growth and egg production potential. As a result, poultry enterprises in the country entirely depend on exotic breeds, which are productive. The White Leghorn breed is the major one among the exotic breeds. Haramaya University Poultry farm is a source of the White Leghorn poultry breed in eastern Ethiopia. However, poor management and maintenance of the breed for too long without genetic improvement is a serious constraint to enhancing poultry production in the region. The objective of this study was, therefore, to evaluate the performance of White Leghorn breed maintained at Haramaya University poultry farm and establish their current reproductive and productive potential. The productive and reproductive performance of the breed was evaluated starting from hatching to 50 weeks of age. 576 eggs with an average size of 50.01 + 5.57g were randomly arranged into three replicates each consisting of 192 eggs. Then, a total of 363 hatched chicks were used and intensively raised on a deep litter system to evaluate body weight, feed intake, feed efficiency, body weight gain, mortality during
brooder, grower and layer stages whereas egg weight and hen day egg production at layer ages were also determined. All data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. The results revealed that the mean hatchability, day old body weight, age at sexual maturity, weight at sexual maturity, hen-day egg production, and egg weight for the study breed were 70.32 + 4.08%, 33.48 + 0.84g, 154 days, 880.04 g, 70.35+3.22% and 53.47+2.39g, respectively. The average body weight and feed intake increased progressively during the brooder, grower and layer age. The highest weight gain was achieved during the grower age but the highest feed conversion ratio was observed during the layer stage. The mean mortality rates during the brooder and grower stages were 4.23+1.72 and 1.17+0.96, respectively. In conclusion, the White Leghorn breed at the university performed poorly with respect to most of the variables studied. Therefore, it is necessary to do more research to get insights into possible environmental and genetic factors that have contributed to the lower performance of the breed so as to address the constraints and enhance poultry production in the region.
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