Native Chicken Production in the Philippines

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Native chicken production has long been a way for Filipinos to supplement their income from other sources in the Philippines.

Native chickens originally roamed about as wild fowl and fed on what they could find. The native Filipinos caught them for food and searched for their eggs. And, chicken meat has always been a major ingredient in Philippine dishes.

So what’s involved in native chicken raising?

In the earliest of days, you simply kept a small flock and let them roam your yard or field eating what they could find. You gathered eggs wherever they laid them and butchered the meat you needed. If you had a rooster and a dozen hens, the breeding process was assured.

Native Chicken Production in the Philippines

Eggs left for hens to nest produced the baby chicks you need to continue your flock.

 

What eggs, meat and even chicks you didn’t need to sustain your family became something you could barter for other things you needed. For fruit, vegetables, flour, sugar, a new axe…

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What are Native Chickens?

In its purest form, there is not much work involved in native chicken raising.

In the more remote areas of the Philippines, native chickens are still raised in backyards. There may be a few of them or upwards to two dozen. They are free to hunt and peck whatever grows or crawls about in that fenced backyard. In some areas, they aren’t even fenced in. Shelter from the sun and from night-time predators is most often provided. Eggs are usually laid in the morning to mid-afternoon. Egg collection occurs daily after that unless eggs are needed earlier for family consumption or sale.

The average native chicken produces eggs only up to sixty days annually. So each chicken may lay 150 to 200 eggs each year. Whether she has a good diet affects both the number and quality of these eggs.
If they are being raised for meat, it takes between 74 and 125 days for them to reach an ideal weight of two pounds (1 kg).

The original, wild native chickens were very nervous around people.

Crossbreeding has made them more comfortable around people. Some might now be considered tame enough to be pets. But they will still peck aggressively if frightened or angered.

Native chicken producers try to maintain the type of diet for their chickens that they would get if they were foraging for themselves. Native chickens weigh in at one or two kilos (2 to 5 pounds).

There are several breeds including Palawan, Basilian, Darag, Banaba, Iloilo, Batangas, Camarines, Joloano, Bolinao, Paraoakan, and Pangasia breeds. Darag native chickens are particularly popular. Each breed has its own meat flavor. Today’s native chickens seem part wild fowl called Red Jungle Fowl, part domestic hybrid. It is believed that the chickens which mated with the Red Jungle Fowl were brought to the Philippines by European explorers.

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Native Chicken Production in the Philippines

Many of the native chickens in the Philippines are red with black tails and brown hackles. Combs on healthy native chickens are red. Female native chickens are less brilliant with yellowish brown feathers.

While native chickens are raised throughout the Philippines, the greatest concentration is in Western Visayas.

The Philippines is not the only area to raise native chickens. In fact, this is becoming a dying farm-form there. While other countries like Indonesia and Malaysia and Thailand report growths of almost 20%, the Philippines native chicken industry shrank by nearly 15% last year. Singapore, once also a high producer of native chickens, reported a decrease of nearly 40%.

Numerically, this means that in 2015 the Philippines produced almost 180 million birds. By the following year, this had dropped to 175 million and has steadily declined since then.

Why are native chickens so popular?

In spite of the decline mentioned above, native chicken farming is here to stay. After all, humans cannot do without chickens. And, nowhere is this more evident than in the Philippines where chicken is a major source of protein.

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Native chicken producers raise the chickens for the eggs and sometimes for meat. Many of them have ongoing buyers. However, others are taken to local markets where they are sold live or bartered for other commodities. For sure, they are a significant, sometimes major, source of the family’s income. It supplements their other income while providing a vital source of protein for the family.

Native chicken meat and eggs are lower in cholesterol and, hence, healthier. People will pay more for eggs and meat of native chickens. Those who have tasted native chicken swear that it is more moist and flavorful than other types of chicken.

Native chickens have a competitive edge over commercially raised poultry because the public believes they are hardier, healthier, and tastier.

Native chicken raising has long been seen as a viable way to supplement rural incomes. It is also an important source of protein in the diet of developing and underdeveloped countries of the world.

Factors to Consider Before Entering the Market

Urbanization is certainly a factor in native chicken farming.

There are fewer areas of the country where it is legal to raise chickens. Choosing where you can locate a native chicken raising business needs to be a consideration in establishing a business. Just as urbanization has increased, so, too, available natural food sources have become less readily available for native chickens.

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Duplicating what chickens foraged for in their natural environment must now be factored into your chicken raising business in the Philippines.

On the upside, where some native chickens were raised not for meat or eggs but for cock fighting, this has become thankfully far less of a market. This vicious fight-to-the-death sport has declined in popularity.

Native chicken production is now predominately for eggs and meat.

The Future of Native Chicken Raising in the Philippines

What’s in the future for producers of native chickens in the Philippines? Or is there one?

Is this another instance where factory farming and mass processing is going to squeeze out the little guy?

The answer is a positive one!

The Philippines produces over 95% of the poultry it consumes, including native and commercially produced poultry. Native chicken production accounts for slightly more than half of the country’s poultry industry.

In short?

Native chicken farming is alive and well.

There is a growing interest in chicken meat and eggs that are free range. This makes native chicken farming appealing. There is a ready and growing market.

Native Poultry Farming is a Lucrative Venture With OFWs

For the most part, except for specialized food and shelter, native chicken farming is not a high-cost venture. There’s a strong niche market for free-range meat and eggs. This shows no immediate sign of shifting. Consumers are prepared to pay higher prices to get free range native chicken and eggs.

The capital investment for farmers looking to get into native chicken production is relatively low.

The standardization of the quality of native chicken eggs and meat is also being addressed. This should improve sales. It should also mean that those farmers who are trying to supplement a meager income with raising native chickens in their backyard don’t lose out on this much-needed money.

Thanks to modern technology, it is now possible to have a native chicken with more stamina to fight disease and harsh weather conditions. It is now feasible to have native chicken breeds with enhanced egg and meat production capabilities.

Need for Government Support in the Sector

For intervention in competition from imports and for standardization of quality in native chicken, the government needs to take action.

Adding subsidization would also encourage potential native chicken farmers to get into production. How much capital is required? The Philippines Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources and Development has conducted a study into that.

They estimate that in order to raise a thousand chickens for native chicken production P94,000 is needed. In the third month, a net profit of P23,000 would be gained. This is a nearly 25% return on investment (ROI).

As such, native chicken farming can be a fairly lucrative venture. (To learn all you need to know about farming native chicken, make sure to check our guide.)

What else can be done to motivate native chicken production?

Advertising and promotional pamphlets, billboards, and videos could educate residents about the potential for native chicken farming as a sideline to supplement another income. Potential native chicken farmers need to see that for eight and a half million of the world’s residents, most of them in the Philippines, native chicken farming provides a significant source of revenue.

An example of one such effort is our eBook entitled Native Chicken Farming in the Philippines. It is filled with important information and practical tips about native chicken farming.

What to Know Before Getting Started

One of the reasons native chicken raising is on the decline in spite of an ever-increasing interest in the product is that so-called native chickens have been allowed to interbreed, producing mongrel offspring.

In short: They’ve lost the characteristics that made them a hardy, healthy breed.

Alas, the result of this indiscriminate crossbreeding is not good.

Today’s chicken, the outcome of ignoring how these chickens mate, is chickens that have little resistance to disease and harsh climate. They are also poor egg producers and slow to grow as meat sources. The meat from these mongrels is stringy and less tasty.

So first you need “pure” hardy native chickens.

Next, you need to consider food sources.

Like the breeding, if you are serious about raising native chickens you can’t let all they eat be only the things they catch. Devising a personal formula for what you feed your flock is ideal.

Otherwise, you need to find an available source of organic chicken feed.

The latter is costlier and a bit of a stab in the dark.

Good organic materials include rice, hammered corn or corn bran as well as copra meal. Food supplements like dried malunggay leaves or ipil-ipil also improve production. Growing your own coconuts, bananas, and squash provide a good natural food source along with supplements.

It’s important to set up and stick to a feeding schedule.

Like humans, native chicken like three meals a day.

Water is vital for the flock. When they first arrive add a little sugar. Lack of fresh water will stress your flock. This leads to lower egg production, disease, and even death.

Native chickens also need to be vaccinated against such diseases as fowl pox. They should also be dewormed. This should occur every month and a half for free range poultry. Find a veterinarian in your area that specializes in treating birds.

Like every venture, raising native chickens in the Philippines can be lucrative. However, if you don’t start out with good stock or you don’t know what you are doing, this entrepreneurial venture could be a disaster.

The Philippines Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources and Development advises first-time native chicken entrepreneurs to start with mature chickens.

Sure, chicks are cute.

Starting them from hatchlings is cost effective.

Chicks cost less than mature hens and a rooster.

However, hatchlings are a long way from laying eggs and being ready for market. If you can, purchase young pullets just about ready to lay. You know they have survived early death, disease, crowding that will smother chicks and predators. Avoid mature hens or you’re likely to get the culls of someone else’s flock.

Select a dual-purpose breed.

That means it is used for laying eggs and for meat. Even if you don’t use them for both, the option is always there. These dual-purpose chickens often seem hardier.

Don’t spend huge amounts on your coop. That eats into the profits. Your chickens need shelter and safety. Make sure they have a secure fence to protect them from predators and a roof from the cold, and rain. They also require a place to roost and nesting boxes where they will lay their eggs.

Try to keep the environment as natural as possible. Remember that’s the intent of natural chicken raising. Use homemade roosts and boxes. Set up natural dusting materials for them.

Keep food as natural as possible.

Get to know your local feed store. Talk to them about “natural feeds”. Add crushed eggshells for calcium. Feed your natural chicken food scraps. This helps provide extra nutrients. It’s also a great compost alternative. Win-win!

Keep lighting natural too. You’ve heard of those places that force laying by leaving lights on night and day. Let nature take its course when it comes to egg production. Your chickens won’t be as stressed.

Like children, native chickens thrive on routine.

Establish a timetable for feeding and egg gathering and adhere to it. This keeps your hens happy and unstressed.

Keep the coop and eating area clean. Make sure the boxes have fresh bedding and food and water feeders are clean and filled. This makes for a happier flock and prevents disease.

In its original form, natural chicken raising was a small farming sideline.

It brought healthy eggs and meat to the table of Philippines families. A return to this method and intend will encourage a renewed interest in native chicken production.

If you’re interested in starting a native chicken farming venture, make sure to check our guide, Native Chicken Farming in the Philippines.

Native Chicken Farming in the Philippines

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