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Tadelle Dessie on BBC Africa: why breed more productive chickens?

Chickens are catching up in the livestock race (photo credit: AFP)

Chickens are catching up in the livestock race (photo credit: AFP)

Tadelle Dessie, program leader of the African Chicken Genetic Gains (ACGG) program was recently interviewed by BBC Africa reporter Akwasi Sarpong.

Dessie highlights the opportunities with long-standing village poultry rearing and production – especially by women – on the continent, but points to the limitations of relying exclusively on indigenous poultry.

The ACGG coordinator ends this short interview (3 minutes long) by introducing the objectives of the ACGG program, ie. identify tropically adapted and more productive chicken ecotypes from all over the world and test them under farmer conditions to identify the farmer preferred strains to initiate a long-term genetic gains program with these preferred strains. He punctuates with the focus of ACGG on women for their long standing and towering role in poultry rearing, and for the needed opportunities this activity should give back to them.

This interview is related to an article from the BBC Africa team about the opportunities of chicken production in Africa – and it stresses the current renewed interest for the most domestic avian livestock of Africa.

Listen to the BBC Africa interview

Read the BBC Africa article

Read Tadelle’s profile on this website

4 thoughts on “Tadelle Dessie on BBC Africa: why breed more productive chickens?

  1. Feed resource base is the important factor in rearing indigenous chicken or any other indigenous livestock. If the farmer or the farming community have sufficient land to allow indigenous chicken and livestock to scavenge about then allowing the survival of these stock without interference is the best. However, in farming systems such as in Sri Lanka where arable land is limited and pasture and forest land is out of bounds to indigenous farm animals then there has to be some intervention. Perhaps like cross breeding with having 75% indigenous blood to remain would be a good idea as these types will utilize the feed resource base efficiently. This is my experience working with local stock


  2. Livestock feeding in general and utilization of local feed resources in particular is very important for increasing productivity in smallholder systems, and the lack of adequate year-round feeding by poor smallholders to fully utilize the genetic potential of their crossbred animals is a major constraint to productivity. However, improved genotypes are the prerequisite and serve as a pull factor to increased productivity and an incentive for adequate feeding in order to take full advantage of the productivity potential. This is equally true in health management as well.


  3. We are contemplating on hydroponic fodder cultivation for family poultry, milk cattle and goats. I hear Africa is way ahead in this. Would like to learn. Thank you


  4. Dear Sunilgamage,

    A number of studies have analyzed animal responses to and performance on hydroponic fodder. These studies considered dairy cattle, pigs, beef cattle and poultry. The majority of these studies identified no advantage in feeding fodder, especially when it was used to replace grain.

    In their comprehensive review of hydroponic fodder in relation to beef cattle, Sneath and McIntosh (2003) reported “Most of the trials on livestock performance from hydroponic sprouts show no advantage to including them in the diet, especially when it replaces highly nutritious feeds such as grain.

    In 1939 Leitch reviewed a range of experiments using sprouted fodder for dairy cows, beef cattle, calves, pigs and poultry. The introduction to Leitch’s thesis commences “The present lively interest in sprouted fodder has arisen from the commercial exploitation of processes of water culture of plants to produce stock fodder”.

    Morgan et al. (1992) state “The apparent increase in the complete mat on day 4 is probably related to the increase in digestibility.” There were losses in energy beyond day 4, exceeding 20% in the root portion. Peer and Leeson (1985a) determined the apparent ME concentration in sprouted and unsprouted barley fed to cockerels. The energy content decreased significantly with duration of sprouting. They were able to relate this loss to increases in fibre, which poultry have a limited ability to digest, and continued loss of starch, catabolised to soluble sugars for use in respiration and cell wall synthesis.

    Please see the below open sources to find more information about hydroponics.

    Click to access Hydroponicfodder-article-11wpnm0.pdf

    Bull, R. and Peterson, C.F. (1969). “Nutritive value of sprouted wheat for swine and poultry.” Journal of Animal Science 28: 856-857.

    Peer, D.J., and Leeson, S. (1985a). “Feeding value of hydroponically sprouted barley for poultry and pigs.” Animal Feed Science and Technology 13: 183-190.

    Morgan, J., Hunter, R.R., and O’Haire, R. (1992). Limiting factors in hydroponic barley grass production. 8th International congress on soilless culture, Hunter’s Rest, South Africa.


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