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PROJECT TOPIC: EFFECT OF EJACULATION FREQUENCY AND MANAGEMENT CONDITIONS ON SEMEN QUALITY, FERTILITY AND HATCHABILITY OF LOCAL TURKEYS IN THE HUMID TROPICS

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CHAPTER ONE

1.0 INTRODUCTION

1.1       Background of the Study

Food insecurity which is felt in most developing nations including Nigeria over the years has accentuated the already critical animal protein deficiency among human populations. High cost of livestock and poultry has limited the capacity of an average Nigerian to consume adequate quantity and quality of animal protein (Hamzat et al., 2003). Emeruwah (1999), and Ojewola, et al. (2004) prescribed massive production of animals with short reproduction cycles such as pigs, rabbits and poultry as the only remedy to the acute animal protein shortage in Nigeria. This however, has undoubtedly spurred research efforts in the direction of these animals that offer the highest turn-over rate and the quickest return on investment. Obviously, rabbit meat is not popular in Nigeria and its commercialization is limited by unknown factors. Pigs on the other hand suffer religious alienation. Thus, poultry has been the animal of choice (Sanni and Ogundipe, 2003). Although, production of local chicken is evident, large scale, medium scale and the back-yard poultry production enterprises are gaining ground in Nigeria as producers now mostly rear more productive exotic broiler and layer types of chicken which have shown considerable levels of adaptation to the prevailing environmental conditions.

            Okpeku, et al. (2003) noted that the exotic chickens require expensive inputs as a result of which, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the poultry industry over the years under a poor economy .The prevalent high exchange rate of the naira to foreign currency needed for importation of parent stock and some feed ingredients not found locally is not helping matters. Onyimonyi and Onukwufor (2003) opined that the ban on importation of poultry meat and egg by Nigerian government may bring to an end the era of egg glut and low market for locally produced poultry meat and above all, encourage local production of chicken. Although, their assumptions appear to be the case, poultry meat and egg are apparently becoming ostentatious. The Smallholder Family Poultry Concept for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation in Nigeria has no doubt shown how other local poultry resources can improve rural livelihood (Sonaiya, 2002b). Therefore, the emphasis on the need to consider other poultry resources while combating animal protein shortage in Nigeria has formed the backbone of this study.

Turkey farming is very popular in the Western countries. The major producing countries are the United States of America, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In 2004, the estimated world turkey meat production was 4.94 million tonnes (Central Poultry Development Organization, 2008). However, Nigeria’s contribution to the above statistic is not known. Commercial breeds and strains of turkeys such as Broad Breasted Bronze, Broad Breasted White, White Nicholas 300, Big-6, Hybrid Large White and a host of others have been developed by University Research Stations and reputable commercial turkey breeding companies in the Western world. Strong preference and elaborate research reports have been focused on these modern turkeys as a result of which they have been highly bred for intensive production. There are however, other types that thrive as scavengers under the extensive system of production practiced in localities of developing countries. They roam about, feeding on fresh grasses, insects, worms and snails. These genetically undeveloped, self-reliant, heat tolerant and rugged types are the least studied of all turkeys. Little effort has so far been directed at improving their productivity under free-range condition (Abeke and Ubani, 2008). Research reports on them are therefore scanty or non-existent (Zahraddeen, et al., 2005).



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