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Abstract, 2012

In Ethiopia, generally, the chicken rearing system is characterized by extensive scavenging management, no immunization programs, increased risk of exposure of birds to disease and predators, and reproduction entirely based on uncontrolled natural mating and hatching of eggs using broody hens, where there is no or minimum intervention to maximize their production and reproductive performance.  Indigenous chickens were rated to have superior merits with regard to traits such as disease resistance, tolerance to cold and heat, ability to escape from predators, scavenging and brooding behaviors and hatchability of eggs which are important in adaptation to the village environment; and those traits, such as taste of egg and meat, affecting consumption preference and consequently market value. Ethiopian indigenous chicken population is estimated to be 40.6 million and producing about 78million of eggs/year. In Ethiopia, the average flock size under rural chicken production system ranges from 7 – 10 birds in each house hold consisting of 2 – 4 adult hens, one cock and some growers of different age groups. The egg production is estimated to be 40 to 60 eggs / birds /year with an average egg weight of 40 grams. The village poultry production system is constrained by lack of technical information for producers, lack of hatcheries, poor egg transportation facilities, low quality feeds, poor performance of indigenous chicken, high mortality, socio-cultural taboos & inadequate emphases given to poultry production.  The poultry production and marketing systems in Ethiopia can only be improved through the adoption & application of new technologies in breeding, feeding, management, disease prevention & control and by assessing poultry market structure, identifying poultry price determinants and price association in spatially linked markets and generate information that helps to make decisions by producers, poultry traders and other stake holders concerned with poultry production and market development.                                                                             

Key words: village chicken production, Indigenous chicken ecotypes, Scavenging, Marketing Systems