COLOUR VARIATIONS AND PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE INDIGENOUS CHICKEN OF SOUTH WESTERN NIGERIA
Keywords:Indigenous chicken, colour types, phenotypic variance, heritability
The survey of indigenous chicken was carried out in 8 states comprising 119 local government of South Western Nigeria between October 1994 and May 1995 to evaluate colour variation relative to performance characteristics as selection criteria for development of improved indigenous poultry types for the Nigerian market. The colours recorded were those of the skin of the shank, the earlobe, the comb and the beak as well as that of the feathers. Significant differences were recorded for the feather colour effect on the liveweight, breast girth and breast length (P < 0.05). The shank and earlobe colours significantly affected the birds shank length, comb height, live weight ad backbone length (P < 0.05) with a highly significant (P < 0.05) earlobe effect on the breast girth Out of the 2032 birds analysed with complete records, 45.9% had mottled feather colour. The black white and brown colours were 17.4; 16.4; and 19.98% respectively while only 0.34% were red. Birds with yellow shanks were 35% while black, white/ash, white and piebald (yellow or white laced with black spots) were 23.3; 28.1; 10.8 and .8% represented 28.4 and 29.9% of the population whilst white earlobe was found in 53.4% of the birds. Though 45.9% of the birds had mottled feather colour, highest shank length of 8.04 and 8.05cm and liveweight of 1.37 and 1.41kg were black feather colours respectively. Eggs laid varied from 30.5 to 37.4 for the black and white feathered chicken with 25.65 to 30.98 hatched (i.e % hathability of 81.06 – 88.78%) by the mottled and white feathered chickens. A highly significant (P < 0.001) positive correlation of 0.982 between eggs laid and eggs hatched and correlations of 0.517 and 0.497 between these variables and those of comb height indicate their usefulness as selection criteria. Coupled with a high heritability estimate of 0.597 and 0.513 for liveweight, and the phenotypic colour variance of feather and shank, selection based on these colour variances could be effective in breed development.