With the introduction of the Kuroiler chicken breed into the country, many farmers have adopted cross-breeding as way to come up with better quality offspring by crossbreeding the local breed with exotic breeds.
This may look like an advantage since the offsprings usually have a faster growth rate compared to the indigenous birds. However, this is not advisable because the offsprings of such breeding will lack the brooding gene and reproduce naturally.
Dr Jackson Mubiru the Director Rural Poultry Development Programme at the National Animal Resource Center and Data Bank says Kuroilers should be kept to serve the purpose for which they were introduced which is to supplement the local breeds but not to replace them or crossbreed with them.
“Kuroilers have a capacity to lay between 150 to 200 eggs annually compared to local hens that lay around 40 eggs per year. This is the reason they were introduced to increase food and nutrition security as well as household incomes,” he says.
Dr Mubiru advises that Kroliers should be kept in their pure form and mixed with the local breeds because cross-breeding can lead to the extinction of local breeds since their offsprings lack a brooding gene.
“We have over 45 million chicken in the country and out of these only 1.5 million are kuroilers. There is no need for cross breeding them but should only be kept to supplement the local breeds because it can lead to failure by the new breed too reproduce leading to the extinction of the local breeds,” Dr Mubiru advises.
He however says the government is in the process of constructing a bank at the resource center where live animal and poultry breeds are kept to safeguard them from extinction.
“At the current gene bank we keep the genes of the existing breeds but we are soon constructing another one for live breeds. However this does not mean that farmers should let the local breeds to go extinct due to the introduction of exotic breeds,” he adds.
The Kuroiler chicken breed that were introduced by the Kegg Farms an Indian company through the National Animal Genetic Resource Center so as to supplement incomes among the local population but its quick adoption has put the existence of local chicken at risk as many farmers are crossbreeding them because they look exactly like local chicken.
This breed looks almost the same as the local breeds and difficult to differentiate them with the eyes. However, despite the similarities this breed does not reproduce naturally which has resulted into crossbreeding of the exotic breeds by some farmers as they intend to improve on the local breeds and increase production.
Dr Nicholas Kauta former Director Animal Husbandry at the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries says the practice is risky and threatens the existence of local breeds since Kuroilers do not have the gene that allows brooding in chicken hence threating genetic diversity.
“If the excitement with inter breeding continues the lack of brooding genes in the kuroilers means the local hens that bred with them will increasingly produce off springs that lack the brooding gene and cannot reproduce,” he says.
This according to Dr Kauta means the country will need to be equipped with incubators if the chicken are to reproduce which is risky since it may not be easy for every farmer to access artificial incubation services.
He thus advises chicken famers to stop the excitement with inter breeding if they are to conserve the local breeds that can reproduce naturally for generations.
“Kuroiler chicken are a hybrid that is kept for both meat and eggs. The cocks are ready for slaughter at five months as the hens start laying eggs. If properly taken care of Kuroiler chicken can be very profitable since they grow very fast to reach the market for meet, high egg production levels and ability to survive in not so easy conditions hence leading to improved incomes among the farmers, nutritional outcomes as well as food security,” Dr Kauta adds.