CHAPTER ONE 1.0 INTRODUCTION The poultry industry is a versatile business in Nigeria but the development has been to the detriment of the indigenous birds which have been neglected and not properly managed (Adebambo et al., 1999). The indigenous chickens (Gallus domesticus) have been kept in Africa for many generations in subsistence systems. The Nigerian indigenous chicken constitutes between 80 and 90 percent of the local population of chickens in Nigeria. Three other major genes have been identified in these local chickens apart from the normal feathered type. These are: Frizzle, naked neck and sex-linked dwarfism. Each of these genes plays a significant role in the productive adaptability of the Nigerian local chicken (Ozoje and Ikeobi, 1995). Despite being in Nigeria for long, the indigenous chickens consist of various unimproved sub-populations of heterogeneous characteristics, not yet classified into breeds and varieties since they do not breed true to type and have no clear plumage colours (Obioha, 1992; Ibe, 2001).
The indigenous chicken, also known as the local chicken is the general term given to those chickens kept on an extensive system, scavenging free-range, having no identified description, and being dual-purpose and unimproved (Horst,1989; Pedersen, 2002). They appear to be the cheapest and sustainable means of producing high quality animal protein for the expanding populations of developing countries like Nigeria. They are self reliant and hardy birds with the capacity to withstand harsh weather conditions and adaptation to adverse environments.