Nutritional quality of protein-rich feed resources for scavenging chickens.
For sustainable intensification of village chickens, it is imperative to explore the potential of non-conventional animal protein (NCAP) feed resources. The broad objective of the study was to assess the nutritional quality and potential of scavengeable feed resources for scavenging chickens. A survey was conducted in 239 resource-poor households of Msinga local municipality in uMzinyathi district, KwaZulu Natal, using pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire, to assess farmer perceptions on the use of NCAP source for scavenging chickens. Females were the prominent heads of households, followed by males, and then youths. Chicken feed shortages were among major challenges to chicken production. A logistic regression model showed that farmers who did not provide overnight housing to their chickens were likely to not provide any supplementary feeding. More than half of the farmers (56.6 %) were aware that NCAP sources have a huge potential to be used as protein supplements to enhance sustainable intensification of scavenging village chickens. Common animal protein sources were termites, earthwoms and locusts. Before attempting to supplement chickens using NCAP sources, it is critical to firstly understand the nutritional quality and amino acid composition of diets that scavenging chickens consume. The second trial, therefore, used a total of 120 Ovambo chickens were used to detrmine the effect of season on nutritional quality and amino acid composition of feeds consumed by scavenging hens and cocks using their crop and gizzard contents. The chickens were randomly purchased during the rainy, post rainy, cool dry and hot dry seasons (15 hens and 15 cocks each season). Fresh crop and gizzard content weights were high (P < 0.05) during the cool dry season. The cereal grain weights were high (P < 0.05) during cool dry and hot dry seasons. The weights of animal protein sources were higher (P < 0.05) during the rainy and post rainy seasons. The levels of crude protein (CP), crude fibre, acid detergent fibre, neutral detergent fibre, nitrogen free extract and true metabolisable energy varied (P < 0.05) with season. There was a significant season and sex interaction on the levels of dry matter, body weight, CP and lysine content. Hens had a higher (P < 0.05) CP and lysine content during the rainy season than cocks. Histidine, serine, arginine, threonine, cysteine and lysine contents varied with seasons. It was conclude that nutritional quality and amino acid composition vary with season and sex of bird.