Incubation and Brooding Practices of Local Chicken Producers in Ethiopia: The Case of Western Zone of Tigray

Shishay Markos, Berhanu Belay, Tadelle Dessie


A survey was conducted in Western Zone of Tigray, Northern Ethiopia to asses indigenous practices of incubation and brooding, egg and broody hen selection practices and causes of hatchability failure. Multi stage sampling produres were employed to select weredas, sample kebeles and respondents in which three rural weredas were selected by purposive sampling technique; stratified purposive techniques were employed to select nine sample kebeles and purposive random sampling techniques were used to select a total of 385 respondents. Pretested structured questionnaire and focused group discussion were employed to generate data. All generated survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics of SPSS 16. Kruskal- Wall’s test option of Non-parametric tests of SPSS 16 was employed to test proportion difference of each variable among the altitudes. Broody hens were the sole means of egg incubation and chick brooding.  Broody hens selected based on plumage color, egg yield, body weight (size) and mothering ability. Eggs Laid at home was the predominant sources of incubation and selected mainly based on egg type, egg age and season/month of laying. Clay pots, ground, plastic, bamboo cages, bin, cartons and dish were used as egg setting materials and grasses, straws, cotton seeds, feather of broody hens, soil, clothes, cow dung, sand were used as bedding materials.  June to February were the most preferred while March to May was the worst months of the year to incubate eggs and to achieve best hatchability eggs. Environmental temperature, lack of proper laying nest and post handling were the critical causes of failure of egg hatchability in the study area. Visual examination, floating in water, shaking, cooking sample eggs, breaking sample eggs and weighing were the traditional techniques of egg fertility checking prior to incubation.  Farmers attempt to increase egg production by stimulating broody hens to resume laying through hanging upside down, disturbing in the nest, moving to neighbors, tying both wings together, tying outside the original laying nest, tying plastic materials on legs and piercing of noise. However, great emphasis should be given to wards selection of farmers with healthy flock when our option of breaking brooding behavior of hens is moving to neighbors otherwise it may serve as sources of infection for our flocks. There is a strong need for training of chicken producers in increasing hatchability performances through preparation of proper brooding nest or laying nest, egg selection, feeding, housing, health care, proper post handling and chick management to increase their economic returns.  Community based holistic improvement programs is also very imperative to design in order to improve the genetic potential through selective breeding and conservation of the indigenous chicken genetic resources. Further research on hatchability performance evaluation of the indigenous chickens in both on farm and station as well as effect of the twelve months of the year on incubation and hatchability of eggs.

Keywords: Fertility Checking, Breaking Broodiness Behavior, Bedding, Egg Setting Materials

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3208 ISSN (Online)2225-093X

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