Traditionally, local chicken have been kept under the extensive system, where they are let free to scavenge for their own feed. Once in a while, the feed is supplemented by giving the chicken grains. With this method, there is minimal medication and access to veterinary officers.
The chicken are housed on temporary structures and in some cases spend the night with other livestock or in the room that is not used by the farmer’s family at night, for example, the kitchen.
There is no protection from predators. With this traditional system, the flock never gets to grow big, where the farmer can benefit from economies of scale. There is no flock management, but the farmer sells chicken when he needs to. Though the costs are very minimal in this system, there is no way to measure profitability.
A solution to these issues is to keep the local chicken, using modern poultry farming methods, while reaping the benefits of the traditional system.
Under the free-range system, the chickens are left to roam around the farm and scavenge for their own food. There is minimal or no supplementation when it comes to feeds.
The chickens are housed at night to protect them from predators and adverse weather. There are some modifications of this method of poultry farming, namely the pastured system and the yarding system.
Under the semi-intensive system, the chickens are kept in a fenced run, where they can roam around. The run is attached to the house where they sleep at night. Food and water are provided by the farmer.
Under this system, the chickens are kept in a house or cages. Under this system, there is the deep litter system, the slatted system and the cage system. This system allows a large number of birds to be kept in a small piece of land. Food, water, lighting and other poultry needs are provided by the farmer.
Pastured Poultry System
Under the pastured poultry system, the chicken are kept in temporary fenced paddocks or kept in chicken tractors and moved to a new paddock every few days. They spend the night in the chicken tractors or movable coops inside the paddocks. This is a modification of the free-range system, where the chicken can scavenge for their own feed but are provided with water and security.
The paddocks are fenced using movable fences, sometimes powered by electricity so as to keep predators away and the chicken inside. Supplemental feed is given to the chicken to meet their nutrient quota. The chicken eat insects, grass and other vegetation in the paddock. Moving the chicken allows the vegetation on the paddock to regenerate and grow again.
In some cases, the chickens follow the herbivores that have been feeding on the paddock. When the herbivores move to the next paddock, the chicken are moved to the paddock where the herbivores were. This allows the chicken to benefit from the bugs in the animal droppings. The land also benefits as the chicken spread the animal droppings when they are scratching.