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Abstract, FAO, 1999

Some of the wide range of feed materials suitable for poultry in developing countries is listed in the order of their availability to small holders. Most are already fully utilised. A simple method for determining the amount of feed material available in a region for a chicken development project is described. The size of the SFRB in a village is limited, of low quality (crude protein approximately 9%), and fully utilised. Village populations of scavenging chickens grow until the capacity of the SFRB is exceeded. The low crude protein in the SFRB is inadequate for chicks and growers. Consequently the weaker chicks and growers die of starvation when there is competition for scavenging feed. Growth and survival rates of chicks are greatly improved if they are given preferential access to household refuse supplemented with protein. The ultimate cause of death of chicks and growers is usually predation.

Advantages of the existing scavenging system include having their own chickens at no cost or low cost, breeding their own replacements, and access to all components of the SFRB. A premium price is paid for village poultry products in most countries. Disadvantages include the restricted size and poor quality of the SFRB, and waste of eggs, chicks and growers, caused by population pressure and inefficiencies associated with the use of broody hens. Low cost ways of alleviating the problems of the existing scavenging system are discussed in terms of improved production. (a) Concentration of the family on the utilization of the refuse from its own household, with limited use of scavenging. (b) Hatch fewer chicks and treat them preferentially. (c) Restrict the broody periods of hens. (d) Information exchange on husbandry procedures for scavenging village chickens should be encouraged. Small-scale intensive production in villages is feasible if feed resources are assured. A production package should include source of birds and feed, secure appropriate housing, reliable vaccines and access to markets. An infrastructure is needed to assure the supply of inputs to small holders, and could be provided by a cooperative, a poultry shop, an aid organization, government services or large-scale industry. Suitable genotypes for utilization of the SFRB, and for more intensive village poultry production, are discussed. Particular reference is made to the relationships between genotypes, the quality of feed available, and productivity. A procedure for selecting chicken genotypes for a supplemented scavenging production system is described. A similar procedure can be used to select chickens for production on a low protein diet. All selection is based on production in the environment in which the chickens will be used. Scavenging poultry production with other species of birds is considered. It is suggested that there are many locations with irrigation channels, paddy fields, ponds or swamps, which would be suitable for mallard ducks, but are presently not utilised.

Key words: Smallholders, poultry, scavenging, feed resources, developing countries