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Family poultry production

The term “family poultry” describes the full variety of all small-scale poultry production systems found in the rural, urban and peri-urban areas of developing countries. Rather than describing the production system per se, the term refers to the raising of poultry by individual households for food security and income.

For thousands of years, small family poultry flocks have been an integral part of rural livelihoods, and today they are also found in peri-urban and urban settings in many countries. Although raising family poultry is rarely the main livelihood activity in households, the birds play specific and important socio-economic roles. Their meat and egg output is low, but is obtained with minimum inputs. The birds are left to scavenge and are rarely fed more than kitchen leftovers, although some supplementation with grains does occur. Sheds, if provided, are made of local materials. Chickens are the most common species raised, but mixed flocks also often exist. The birds are mainly indigenous, sometimes mixed with commercial breeds.

When family poultry flocks are composed of more than 50 birds, they tend to be kept primarily for sale, thus helping their owners to build income and capital. In such systems, poultry are generally confined to a restricted area with access to shelter, or fully confined either in houses or cages. Poultry raised this way belong to genetically “improved” meat or egg genotypes, or are at least crossbred, intermediate performing crossbred birds. Capital outlay is greater and the birds are totally dependent on their owners, but production is higher than in other family poultry systems.

Did you know?

  • Family poultry accounts for 80 percent of poultry stocks in Low-Income Food-Deficit countries.
  • Poultry are the most common type of livestock kept in urban areas.
  • In developing countries, up to 95 percent of sedentary and poor rural dwellers own small scavenging flocks ranging from a few to, more rarely, up to 20 or 30 birds.