Georges Ejiogu1, Ifeanyi Okoli1, Georges Anyanwu1, Maxwell Opara1, Chikodi Okoro2 And Victor-Mela Okoro1*
1 Department of Animal Science and Technology, Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
2 Department of Agriculture, Owerri Municipal Council, Owerri.
Abstract: A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of age of release, strain and farmers location on growth and carcass performance of the indigenous, and two exotic strains (Harco® and Goldline®) cockerels, reared on free range; in order to ascertain the best age of release into free range from brooder houses, as well as the effect of farmers location and strain on their growth and carcass characteristics, in South Eastern Nigeria. A total of 315 cockerels comprising 87 indigenous chicks, 114 Harco® chicks, and 114 Goldline® cockerels brooded and raised up to 18 weeks of age were used in this experiment. These birds were randomly released to farmers in the villages at three different ages of 4, 8 and 12 weeks to run on free range. There were significant effects (P<0.05) of age of release and strain on the growth characteristics, but none (P>0.05) on the carcass characteristics. However, there was also significant (P<0.05) effect of the zone on both growth and carcass traits measured. It was concluded that the earlier the exotic birds are released from the brooder house, the better their performance on scavenging rearing. This is beneficial as the farmer will save much from the purchase of compounded feed and other veterinary services.
Key words: age, strain, cockerels, free range, performance.