‘Horo’ Doro could scramble Ethiopia’s egg market

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The Ministry of Agriculture will lab test a new and improved local chicken breed called ‘Horo’ in the next few months. If they succeed it will mean a breakthrough in Ethiopian poultry production. ‘Horo’ is a potential disease-resistant breed of chicken that lays more eggs. Currently the pure, local Ethiopian chickens hatch a maximum of 60 eggs per year.
However, ‘Horo’, which is a hybrid of five local breeds like ‘Gebsema’ and ‘Melata’ is capable of hatching 180 eggs per year, over three times the local pure breed hen.
The birds will be tested over 30 weeks. The Ministry has established two systems – on-station and on-farm – to check their day-to-day growth, life span and survival trend. Horo is good for meat and eggs and could reduce dependency on imported, high quality, chickens from Brazil and the Netherlands.
Multiple improved breeds and strains of chickens will be tested to see if they have the potential for high-production under low-input systems. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the project.
Tsigereda Fikadu, Poultry Development Director at the Ministry of Agriculture said “We are particular about genetic chickens because we are convinced beyond a doubt that they posses attributes that make them suitable for performance both under stationed or scavenging situations. They are chickens that are driven by science, technology, innovation and industry. We want to have our own local breeds that will give us similar results to the Sasso breed from France and Kuroiler breed from India. We have to do more research to get better results and for now we have started with ‘Horo’ and we will continue making improvements from there ‘’
Demeke Wondemagen, Ethiopian Poultry Producers and Processers Association (EPPPA) President said the ‘Horo’ experiment is good news but more work should be done to preserve the local breed.
“The global world is in competition and our local breeds that hatch only 60 eggs are ignored on the local market so we need to conduct extensive research to get the best local breeds that can produce a great deal of eggs throughout the year.”
According to a 2013 Central Statistical Agency report, Ethiopia has about 50.38 million cockerels, pullets, laying hens, non-laying hens and chickens.
From a total of 60 million chickens only 18 million hatch eggs. Traditional farmers raise 94 percent of Ethiopian poultry. There were 1.4 billion eggs produced last fiscal year.