The Poultry Breeds to Keep in South Africa
There are various types of poultry that you can keep in South Africa depending on your objectives. For example, are you planning to produce eggs, meat or practice free range and organic poultry farming? Are you looking for ornamental birds? Here, we look at some of the main poultry breeds in South Africa that have a commercial potential.
Dual Purpose Poultry Breeds
These refer to the poultry breeds that can be kept for both meat and eggs. Good examples include the Plymouth Rock and the Rhode Island Reds. They are not suitable for large scale commercial egg production because they generally don’t produce sufficient eggs. They also do not grow fast enough for meat production. If you are planning to raise chickens for meat, there are faster growing and efficient breeds that you could choose. The dual purpose breeds have other disadvantages. For example, they consume too much feed and are not very good at converting the feeds into meat and eggs. We say they have a poor food conversion ratio and that is likely to hurt the farmer and raise the cost of production.
You could raise these dual purpose poultry breeds where you are not able to get better breeds or where you do not have the ideal conditions such as good feed to raise the best breeds with better performance.
The Special Poultry Breeds in South Africa
These have been chosen because of their excellent egg production. For years, the White Leghorn chicken has been a very popular industry workhorse in South Africa when it comes to egg production. The hen has a small and light body and lays numerous white eggs. It is one of the most commercially viable layers in South Africa.
Another popular layer breed is the Black Australorp chicken. It is a docile (quiet) chicken and lays light brown eggs which are generally popular with many South African buyers. The Black Australorp has a medium-heavy body weight, at 2.2Kg, and thus consumes a lot of feeds. The bird is also not flighty and is well suited for free-range egg production systems.
Hybrid Chickens in South Africa
In today’s commercial poultry production, only hybrid chickens or cross-breeds are usually selected for meat and egg production. They have hybrid vigour. For example, they will lay more eggs than the special or the dual purpose chicken breeds. They usually lay large eggs, which could either be white or brown, depending on the chicken breed. The hybrid chickens also have a very good feed efficiency. They will eat less food per kilogram of weight gained or per kilogram of eggs produced. The male chicks of the hybrid layers grow very fast and can be slaughtered for extra income from poultry meat sales. Hybrid broilers are also quite advantageous. They grow faster than pure breeds and have excellent feed conversion ratio making them very profitable to grow as they produce more breast meat than pure poultry breeds.