Other common names: Normal-feathered Village Chicken; Yoruba Chicken; Fulani Chicken
The Nigerian normal-feathered village chicken is by far the commonest kind of fowl in Nigeria, comprising over 97% of the total population (with an estimated 190 000 000 domestic fowl in the country). As a result, this bird is by far Nigeria's main source of protein (from meat and eggs). It is therefore and invaluable resource for the country.
The normal-feathered village chicken is also sub-divided into two types, the large or 'Fulani' type which is produced in the semi-arid north of the country and the small or 'Yoruba' type which is the typical type in the southern states. The Fulani chicken is 1/3 larger than the Yoruba chicken.
So-called native or 'village' chickens are remarkable in that they can survive with minimal, or almost no management. They scavenge for all their food and produce eggs year-round. Hatchability for the eggs of the normal-feathered local chicken is just over 62%.
The native African chicken breeds tend to be more flavoursome but have tougher meat than introduced breeds and the eggs have bright yolks. They are more suited to slower West African stew and soup cooking techniques (where the meat of introduced breeds breaks down and falls off the bone). As a result the local breeds are still preferred over introduced breeds.
Like almost all the world's chickens, Africa's fowl are descended from the red junglefowl of the Indus valley. It seems that chickens first arrived in Africa about 1900 years ago. But there have been several waves of introduction. They first entered the continent via Egypt then Indian traders brought in the birds as did Arabic invaders and traders. As a result a large number of local or so-called 'Village' breeds have been developed based on the interbreeding of these successive waves of arrivals along with European chickens introduced in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the main these local or native chickens live autonomously on scraps, with each household owning a few chickens. Outside South Africa there has been almost no interest in native chickens until the 1980s and it's only with the use of molecular genetic and evolutionary techniques that the various chicken types have been sorted into groups that might be considered 'breeds'. As, in their own areas, the local chicken is simply called a 'chicken' this has meant that long and cumbersome names tend to be used to describe these chickens in the agricultural and scientific literature. As well as the normal-feather type, Nigeria also has the naked neck and frizzle feathered types of village chicken. In terms of type the normal feather local chicken is defined as 'nana ff' (ie not naked neck, not frizzle feathered).
Types: Bantam, Largefowl
Varieties (Single Comb): Any color
Uses: Eggs, Meat
Yoruba: 28 - 46 oz
Fulani: 4 - 5.5 lbs
Personality: Calm and easy to handle, but energetic enough to make a fine forager
Preferred climate: Warm
Handles confinement: Yes
Egg production: Poor
Egg color: Tinted
Egg size: Small to Medium
What else you should know:
Of all the indigenous breeds, though it is by far the commonest, the normal feathered local variety has the slowest growth rate, is the worst egg layer and has the lowest rate of egg hatchability. This may be because the normal feathered variety because it has the most classical 'chicken' appearance has fewer heat adaptations.
Nigerian village chicken, hot equatorial rainforest, major protein source, arid subSaharan regions
Nigerian Normal-feathered Local Chicken, the Backbone of Every Village
This is the classic Nigerian village chicken and they are everywhere throughout Nigeria. Their vital part in the economy of Nigeria has just been recognized and they are now classed as a breed.
Indeed, it is estimated that there are almost 161 million chickens in Nigeria, and almost 96% of these are the normal-feathered local or village chicken. It is considered an indigenous breed (having been introduced before the 18th century) and has developed independently over centuries.
Like village chickens from all over the world they live in a semi-wild state. Essentially, unless they are given kitchen scraps, they are left almost entirely to forage for themselves. This means that they are not particularly productive, grow slowly, but yield meat for free. Indeed, the chicken is by far the major protein source in the Nigerian diet. And the tough nature of the bird is valued as it suits the slow-cooked, chilli-laden stew that is the country's mainstay.
In the villages the chickens can be quite wild as they live most of their lives around but not close to humans. In cities (and these chickens are everywhere in cities) they tend to be tamer as they are closer to humans. Often, in cities, two or more families will own a flock that they share between them. It is usually the women and children who look after the chickens and the children who collect eggs.
Over the years there have been several attempts at 'improving' the village chicken by outbreeding with introduced breeds. But, for the most part, these have failed. The meat became too soft for local cooking or the chickens became susceptible to heat stroke.
Village chickens are also fast. They need to be to run away from children, dogs, cats, snakes and various other predators. But they are not wild. When picked up they will nestle into the arms and are quite happy to settle down and be stroked.
Because they have been kept under such minimal management, this is a very hardy breed of chicken that can forage for the entirety of its food and which needs almost no intervention from humans. They are also resistant to disease and can live in the arid sub-Saharan regions as well as the humid and hot equatorial rainforest regions.
They are maybe not the prettiest of chickens. Straggly red plumage being the commonest, though brown, black, cuckoo and white are also seen. But they are so well adapted to their environment and the conditions under which they are raised that it's hard not to be fascinated by them..
From DLlE Oct 2 2012 2:15PM