Chickens have lived in rural villages throughout Africa and the Pacific for centuries and have adapted to the local environment and conditions. These village chickens are referred to as ‘indigenous’, ‘native’, ‘local’ or ‘traditional’ poultry and are easy to distinguish from standardised commercial or heritage breeds.
Selection pressures over the years have yielded traits such as hardiness in more intense weather conditions, local disease resistance, excellent feed conversion ratio (meaning they can be sustained with little feed supplementation) and are multi-purpose (eggs and meat) in a free-range system. They generally do not conform to standardised breed ‘looks’ as many backyard breeds do. However, physical traits such as light carcass weight, naked necks and frizzled feathers are common among indigenous birds, as they have adapted for heat tolerance and ability to evade predators (in the case of their small body).
They also hatch their own eggs and look after their chicks well, therefore ensuring a continuous supply of replacement stock if they are kept healthy and effort is made to protect them from predators.