Growth Performance of Indigenous Village Chickens Fed Palm Pith (Corypha gebanga) as a Substitute for Maize
Palm pith, which is available at all seasons, is used in a practical manner by farmers on Timor Island as an additional feed source for chicken during critically dry seasons. This study investigated the utilization of palm pith as a substitute for maize for the feeding of village chickens. Sixty-four birds, consisting of 48 females and 16 males, were divided into four groups fed different feeding treatments, each with four replicates and their growth performance, egg production, weight and size were measured. The four treatments were the following: T1 (30% maize, 20% fish meal, 50% palm pith meal); T2 (0% maize, 20% fish meal, 60% palm pith meal); T3 (10% maize, 20% fish meal, 70% palm pith meal) and T4 (20% fish meal, 80% palm pith meal). The data were analyzed through a multivariate analysis. Significant differences in live weight were observed in weeks 6, 7 and 8: the birds receiving 80% palm pith meal in their diet (T4) had higher average live weights than those receiving 60 and 70% palm pith meal. The results revealed that the effect of the interaction between time (week) and treatment on live weight was highly significant (p<0.01). The birds fed T4 had significantly higher weight than those receiving T2. Greater differences were found when the birds spent a longer time feeding. The growth performance of the birds fed T4 suggested that the protein level in the diet was likely closer to the determined level than the predicted level. The balance of amino acids may have been closer to an optimal level in the fish meal-Corypha gebanga mix (T4) than in the diets containing all three ingredients. The average egg production per month increased over the four months, with 8.8, 15.1, 36.6 and 40.6 eggs produced in months 1 to 4, respectively. The egg weight and length were 30.5 g and 775 cm, respectively. The profits from selling the village chickens contributed to quick-cash incomes for small farming families. A major constraint identified in chicken rearing is the inability of native chickens to respond to improved management practices due to their limited genetic potential. The feeding practices were inefficient in the use of existing feed resources, resulting in an inadequate amount and a low quality of the feed available for chickens and long durations between hen clutch cycles, thereby yielding a low annual egg production per hen.
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