Hyderabad, July 8: The city-based Project Directorate on Poultry has developed a chicken variety that closely resembles the jungle (desi) fowl in colour and plumage pattern for backyard farming in villages and tribal habitations.
While chicken varieties are generally white in colour without any plumage pattern, this variety of poultry bird named Vanaraja, is multi-coloured and has attractive feathers. The male bird is a coloured Cornish strain while the female parent bird is a synthetic multi-coloured meat population.
It is difficult to rear common poultry birds in the backyard in villages and hilly terrain as they become easy prey to predators but Vanaraja has the ability and agility to escape predators. The Vanaraja variety is light in weight and has long shanks and is capable of protecting itself.
The PDP has developed the male parent for moderate juvenile body weight, long shanks and good immune competence. On the other hand, the female parent gives high egg production with better egg size and high hatchability. It is also immune to general poultry diseases. The bird easily adapts to local climatic conditions even they turn adverse like extreme cold or hot.
Without extra feeding efforts the Vanaraja male bird attains moderate body weight within eight weeks. The female bird lays between 160 and 180 eggs in a laying cycle. A team of scientists led by Dr SV Rama Rao has developed the bird.
According to PDP officials, the Vanaraja birds can be used to improve the genetic potential of the jungle fowl or desi hens through crossing. "The upgraded progeny from such a cross has been found to perform better than the jungle fowl both in terms of overall body weight and production of eggs," Dr Rao points out.
The chicks need to be acclimatised to the backyard conditions before they could be let free in the open environment. The Vanaraja variety does not need any special diet supplement once let free in the backyard. It will feed on worms and other food material available to it unlike the poultry bird where special care need to be taken.
The Project Directorate has supplied the germplasm of Vanaraja to different parts of the country. The birds are found to be performing well everywhere.
Vanaraja has been a hit in the rural environments and local population has accepted it for backyard farming as the bird attains a body weight of 1.5 kgs in six weeks and reaches up to 1800 grams in seven weeks.
The mortality rate is very low in this variety. The rate is as low as three per cent both at six weeks and seven weeks of age. The bird gives good quantity and quality of meat. There is a wastage of just 30 per cent.
The PDP based at Rajendranagar has also developed a crossbreed called Krishibro, a variety of broiler which does not require high content of nutrients in its feed.
In this case also the mortality rate up to six weeks is just three per cent with a survival rate of 97 per cent as in the case of Vanaraja variety. The broiler chicks in this case are also coloured. Both the varieties have high immunity against common poultry diseases like Ranikhet.