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Dietary protein and energy requirements of Venda village chickens
The objective of this study was to determine the dietary protein and apparent metabolisable energy (AME) requirements of local chickens. Freshly laid eggs of scavenging chickens collected in rural villages were hatched and randomly distributed to 27 floor pens, 10 chicks per pen. Chicks were fed 9 experimental diets that were combinations of three CP levels (140, 170 and 190 g kg−1 DM) and three AME levels (11.0, 11.7 and 12 MJ kg−1) during the starter phase (0–6 weeks) and combinations of three CP levels (120, 150 and 180 g kg−1 DM) and three ME levels (11.3, 12.0 and 12.4 MJ kg−1) during the grower phase (7–17) weeks. Significant differences within means on CP × AME interaction effect were observed in all parameters measured, except feed intake during starter period and dressing percentage (%) and breast yield of 17 weeks old chickens. The results of the present study indicated that during the starter and grower phases, unsexed chickens would require dietary combinations of 170 g CP kg−1 and 11.0 AME MJ kg−1 and 150 g CP kg−1 and 12 AME MJ kg−1 in their diets to optimise weight gain and FCR, and 150 g CP kg−1 and 11.3 MJ kg−1 to optimise ash content of muscles, protein content of the breast and fat content of the leg muscle. Supplementation of 27 g CP kg−1 feed to grower scavenging chickens would be enough to improve chicken production in the rural villages.