“Native chicken has the great potential of becoming a big industry,” words of Dr. Ricardo A. Provido, a successful agricultural entrepreneur and the present chairman of the Regional Agricultural and Fisheries Council (RAFC) Region VI, as he shared his experiences and marketing ideas in a recent interview.
It’s the distinct taste of the Darag that makes it inimitable from the commercial breeds. He added that the free-range management of native chicken made it possible for them to accumulate natural nutrients directly from the soil which cultured broilers and layers do not acquire.
The Darag native chicken has already launched its name in the local markets and started to play side by side with the commercial ones. Through the intervention of available technology, it has also evolved into a more complex production process and marketing system.
Available resources for interested individuals are accessible, resulting to a greater market potential and competitiveness.
“It’s about time that the Darag native chicken should be projected to the public as one of the region’s flagship commodities,” Provido said. – thenewstoday.info
Zoologically, the native chicken belongs to the genus Gallus of the family Phasianae. The domestic chicken is simply called Gallus domesticus.
The wild ancestors of the domestic chicken probably originated in the South east Asia and four species of these white jungle fowls are still known in the area. There are: Gallus gallus, the red jungle fowl; Gallus layette, the Ceylones jungle fowl; Gallus sonnerati, the gray jungle fowl; and Gallus various, the black or green jungle fown.
However, the red jungle fowl has the widest distribution of the wild species and may well be
the chief ancestor of the modern breeds.
The early domesticated native chicken still resemble their wild ancestors in many characteristics. The wild adult male has a shiny red plumage with light brown hackle and black tail feathers while the female has flat yellowish-brownish pumage. The native chicken’s combs are of single type, and the color of their shanks ranges from yellow to gray. The combined effects of mutation, natural selection, selection for cockfighting, and the indiscriminate crossing with the exotics led to the evolution of the so-called indigenous chickens.
Some of the Philippines native chickens that are raised in the backyard of many farmers in the rural areas still resemble their wild ancestral type. They are nervous, flighty, but the female has string maternal instincts. They are hardy and can reproduce and survive with minimal care and management.
In the Philippines, native chickens constitute a large portion of the total chicken population. For many years, these chickens have been part of the natural setting and provide additional sources of income for so many rural farmers.
Darag is a general term used of the Philippine native chicken strain indigenous to and most dominant in Western Visayas. It evolve from the Red Jungle fowl.
The male locally called labuyo has red wing and hackle and black feathers and tail. The female, also called Darag, is typically yellowish-brown.
The comb is single, the earlobe is whitish and the shank gray for both male and female. The
adult male weighs an average of 1.3 kg while the female weighs an average of 1.0 kg.
The Stages of Development
- Mature Darag hens, called breeders, lay eggs.
- Eggs will hatch from 18-21 days
- Chicks go through brooding stage from the first week to the twentieth day.
- From 21-45 days, chicks go through the “hardening” stage. During hardening, chicks are prepared for the rugged conditions of the environment, thus improving the livability of chicks.
- “Hardened” chicks are then left to grow in the field.
- At age 75-120 days, the chickens are mature and ready for slaughter.
Slowly, the value of native chicken has been recognize. In addition to its common contribution in the form of eggs and meat, as a source of additional income to the rural farmers during lean months of the year and as object for recreation in the form of cockfighting. Many people in the urban areas are now looking at the native chicken as a source of nutritious food.
City residents who lead a more sedentary life prefer foods that are low in cholesterol. Their preference is now shifting to the eggs coming from native chicken which, being small, are also believed to supply a small amount of cholesterol. Aside from that, native birds and eggs are tastier and more savory than the improved breeds. This explains why, kilo for kilo, native poultry products are more costly than those of the exotic breeds.
In 1998, PCCARD finally characterized the Philippine native chicken as the common backyard fowl, which is a mixture of different breeds. They are small, active, sensitive and capable of great flights when frightened. The hens are fairly good sitters and mothers, but unlike the native cocks that are being raised for cockfighting and fed with the best feed and sheltered comfortably, the native hens are not good in nests. At best, bamboo baskets covered with dry grass of banana leaves placed under the housed hens to serve as nests, and the trees that grow in premises serves as their perches. Despite all these, a native chicken lays about 40-60 eggs in a year. However, recent findings showed that wehn properly managed and fed with the right quality and amount of feeds, tha native hen can produce as much as 130-200 eggs in a year.
They also serve as cheap source of animal protein through their meat and eggs. Although native chickens grow at a slower rate and produce less number of eggs than improved commercial breeds, meat from native chickens are preferred by many Filipinos because of taste, leanness, pigmentation and sustainability for special dishes.
For more information on Darag or any food and nutrition concern, write or call: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City. Email [email protected] Tel/Fax: 837-2934, 837-3164, 837-2071 local 2296 or visit website at www.fnri.dost.gov.ph
Wesvarrdec Office, UP in the Visayas.
Gen. Luna St., Iloilo City
or call us at 033-335-0630.
Email: [email protected]
PCARRD, Los Banos, Laguna
Tel: (049) 536-0015 to 20
Email: [email protected]