Productivity of this chicken is varied due to genetic diversity and variation in production environment. The predominant production system in most rural areas is extensive management system characterized by scavenging, little or absence of immunization programs, increased disease and predators’ exposure to birds, uncontrolled natural mating and hatching of eggs by broody hens.
The extensive management system has the unfortunate consequences including heavy infestation with coccidian and other Helminthes, frequent Gumboro and Newcastle diseases outbreak that inflict the major economic loss and compromise production.
The strategy to control these diseases has been majorly vaccination which is rarely practiced by the resource poor rural farmers.
And for the few indigenous chicken keepers who vaccinate, the effectiveness of vaccination is limiting due to a plethora of different pathogens and continual shift of pathogen epitopes.
Use of drugs by farmers for prophylaxis purposes especially upon diseases outbreaks has raised concern to consumers due to risk of antibiotic resistance and allergies caused by carry-overs effects.
This calls for breeding for enhanced immunity of indigenous chicken that can resist infection and meet farmers’ and consumer’s expectation. InCIP is therefore in forefront of achieving this through the PhD research of Mr. J. Khobondo who is registered at Egerton University.
InCIP has realized that the possibility of genetically improving chicken resistance constitutes an attractive alternative for both the industry and consumers.
The positive attributes for such endeavours include improved food security nationally, economical empowerment of women and the village poor as envisaged in the Kenyan Vision 2030 policy paper.
Besides, genetic selection for enhanced immunity has been suggested as a safe and logical tool to reduce infectious diseases’ problems in animals worldwide.
This method could be an effective way to improve the innate and correlated acquired ability to respond to antigenic challenges and aid in generation of more disease resistant IC against a wide pathogens base under different environmental conditions.
The sustainability of this method is robust; the gain in efficient immune response and disease resistance may be transferred to subsequent and future generation until fixation point.
Breeding for disease resistance will reduce the inputs required by commercial and small scale holder farmers to maintain IC since the flocks will be more efficient and disease resistant.
This will culminate in high profit margins. InCIP has therefore initiated a noble scheme to breed for hardy chicken that will at least survive the disease outbreaks and maintain high production. The science has just started.