Last week on our visit to the proposed Demonstration Farm of the Municipality of Mina, we met Mr. Gerry Suarnaba, a retired army man who lives just outside the perimeter fence of the farm. He gardens a small part of the area inside where he plants a variety of vegetables. What caught our attention were several chickens running around. The hen is a large meat type popularly called Kabir and the roosters were the asil types called locally as jolo. Gerry crosses the jolo males with the kabir hens and says that the offsprings are as fast growing as the kabirs and as resistant as the jolo or asils.
Being promoted as a free range chicken, the kabirs came into the country from Europe or Middle East where they are grown like the common white broiler chickens that we are familiar with. They were also selectively bred for performance, meaning that the breeders sought to improve the breed for fast growth and high meat recovery. Thus in close confinement and commercial operations, the kabirs may perform as well as the white broiler type can can be harvested in the same number of days it takes the white breeds to grow.
As a meat type free range chicken, the kabirs offer an advantage over the traditional native chickens we normally find in the rural areas. They grow fast, voraciously eats anything edible and can be as hardy as the native strains. They are also are docile and won’t stray away from their pasture when food is available. Unlike the native chickens which are flighty, kabirs can’t take off due to their heavy bodies and and short wing spans.
There are variations of the kabir breed. Other entrepreneurs have imported the Sasso from France a few years back and there are already breeders who specialize in selling day old chicks of this breed. There’s also the Sunshine free range chickens that looks like the sasso. Another breed is the naked neck chicken popularly called the cobra which originated in Eastern Europe, particularly from the Transylvania region also famous for the Count Dracula story. This breed is also known to be hardy and fast growing and is known to be made a parent line for free range chickens. The prominent feature of this breed is that its neck is devoid of feathers, thus it is popularly called a cobra chicken.
Breeding method for free range fast growing strains:
The basic method for breeding free range chicken is to cross totally unrelated breeds. In the case of Ka Gerry, he has jolo or asil brood cocks mated to his kabir hens. Since he has two cocks, he can mate the first cocks to the hens first then mate the next cock to the second generation of kabir x asil so that he comes up with fast growing range-adapted chickens. The resulting offspring will be as fast growing as the kabir hen but more resistant to weather conditions of the field. The same is true with other fast growing imported breeds like the sasso. They can be mated with the asils or other hardy large types of chickens.
There are also small farmers who do a reverse breeding program. They look for a large cock to mate with their small native hens and retain the resulting pullets for the next generation of breeding while selling the cockerels. Then on the next generation of breeding, they find another large rooster to replace the original rooster. Both methods are variations of hybridization where the objective is to develop strength in the individuals through complementation where the best characters of both parents are transferred to the offspring. (to be continued).