Breeding programs for indigenous chicken in Ethiopia : analysis of diversity in production systems and chicken populations

N.M. Dana

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


The aim of this research was to generate information required to establish a sustainable breeding program for improving the productivity of locally adapted chickens to enhance the livelihood of rural farmers in Ethiopia. The first step was to characterize village poultry production environments and farmers’ objectives for keeping chickens, and to identify factors affecting the choice of genetic stock used in villages. This was achieved by carrying out a questionnaire survey and a participatory group discussion with village farmers in different geographic regions of Ethiopia. The low input nature of village environments, the prevalence of disease and predators, and other factors such as the use of chickens both as sources of eggs and meat, and income determined the choice of chicken breed used by farmers, and thus, should be considered carefully before initiating new breeding programs. The highest importance attached to adaptation traits and the existence of particular preferences for chickens of certain plumage colours and comb shapes were also found to have effects on developing new breeds for village systems.
The next part of the thesis focused on identifying important and unique gene pools in local populations. This was achieved by characterizing the local chicken ecotypes both morphologically and molecular genetically. This way the genetic difference between the local populations and the level of genetic diversity within the populations was determined. Attributes important in breeding for tropical conditions such as the pea comb gene, and the naked neck gene have been identified. It was also revealed that the variability found within a single population could explain most of the genetic diversity (97%) in Ethiopian chicken populations. The result of this work is important both from conservation and utilization perspective and assists in maintaining indigenous genetic diversity for current and future generations.
Finally, the pedigreed Horro population that was kept on station was used for estimating genetic parameters for the production traits, monthly and cumulative part period egg numbers and growth to 16 weeks of age. Because the pedigreed population was established only recently, data of only 2 generations were available for estimating these genetic parameters. The results are promising but inaccurate due to insufficient amount of data. They would need to be re-estimated when more generations have been produced and thus more data has been generated.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van Arendonk, Johan, Promotor
  • van der Waaij, Liesbeth, Co-promotor
  • Dessie, T., Co-promotor, External person
Award date4 Feb 2011
Place of Publication[S.l.
Print ISBNs9789085858720
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • fowls
  • breeding programmes
  • genetic improvement
  • performance traits
  • villages
  • ecotypes
  • characterization
  • molecular genetics
  • genetic diversity
  • genetic parameters
  • agricultural production systems
  • ethiopia

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Breeding programs for indigenous chicken in Ethiopia : analysis of diversity in production systems and chicken populations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this