The term poultry refers to the rearing and breeding of avian species such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and guinea-fowls which have been domesticated. They are the best converters of feed into animal protein compared to other livestock. Chickens are the most common poultry enterprises. Chickens alone occupy 90% of the total poultry.
There are more than hundred breeds and more varieties of fowls. The fowls are classified based on their utility to man. They are meat type, egg type, dual type and games and ornamental type. Based on their origin there are four major exotic breeds of fowls. They are American breeds, Asiatic breeds, English breeds and Mediterranean breeds. In addition to the above many of the indigenous breeds are also reared.
Most of the American breed of fowls are dual purpose forms giving meat and egg. These breeds are characterized by yellow feathers, red ear lobes and many of them lay brown-shelled eggs. Rhode island reds,
Plymouth rock, New hampshire and Wyandotte are some of the important breeds of American class.
a. Plymouth rock:- Plymouth rock is the oldest and most popular breed of America. The birds are single combed with long and deep body . The breed produces good sized eggs. The plumage is generally greyish white. The female looks darker in colour than males. This colour feature is used to distinguish the sex of the birds. The females usually have black spots on the shanks.
b. White plymouth: The white plymouth rock has white plumage throughout the body and it is commonly used in broiler production. Standard weights of cock, 4.3kg; hen 3.4kg; cockerel,3.6kg; pullet, 2.7kg.
The breeds of this class belong to Asian continent. They are characterised by large body with heavy bones, feathered shanks, red ear lobes and yellow skin. They are used for egg and meat purpose. The egg shells are light to dark brown in colour. The important breeds of this class are Brahma, from Brahmaputra valley in India, Cochin and Langshan are from China.
All the breeds of this class originated from England. Presence of white plumage and pink coloured earlobes are the characters of the breed of this class. Most of them lay brown shelled eggs. Sussex, Orpington, Australorp and Corinsh are some of the important breed of this class.
Breeds of this class originated from European countries which are the side of Mediterranean sea. The important breeds of this class, Leghorn and Ancone originated from Italy whereas Minorca originated from spain. The breeds are light bodied with non feathered shanks. The fowls of this class lay white shelled eggs and they are non-sitters.
The common country hen of India is known as 'Desi' which is the best mother for hatching. Some of the Indian fowls resemble the leghorn, but have poor laying qualities. Chitagong, Aseel, Karaknath and Busra are four breeds of indigenous fowl in India.
a. Aseel:- Aseel is noted for its pugnacity. The colour of the breed is white or black. The hens are not good egg layers but are excellent sitters. Aseel breed is found in almost all states of India, but abundant in Andhra Pradesh.
b. Chittagong:- Chittagong breed is largely found in West Bengal. The plumage colour varies, but the popular shade is golden or light yellow. The beak is long and yellow in colour, the ear lobes and wattles are small and red in colour. They are good egg layers and are delicious.
c. Karaknath:- It is a fowl with black flesh. It is abundant in Madhya Pradesh and bred by tribals and the eggs are light brown in colour. The adult plumage varies from silver and gold-sprangled to bluish- black. The comb, wattles and tongue are purple in colour,
d. Busra:- This is a small to medium sized bird found in some parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra. They are light feathered with wide variation in body colour.