The Vice-chancellor of the institution, Prof. Kolawole Salako, disclosed this on Tuesday while briefing journalists about the breakthrough and the presentation of certificate of ‘FUNAAB Alpha’ by the National Centre for Genetics Resources and Biotechnology.
He said the locally-bred chickens were developed after 24 years of rigorous selection, cross breeding, as well as on-station and on-farm testing across five agro-ecological zones of Nigeria.
Salako, who explained that the university established the first Department of Animal Breeding and Genetics in the country in 1990, said the latest discovery was achieved under the headship of a distinguished animal breeder, Prof. Olufunmilayo Adebambo.
Salako said, “Under her headship, she was challenged to work on animal breeds that would be acceptable to Nigerians. She took up this challenge in 1994 to work and develop the local chicken breeds of Nigeria to international standard.”
While the VC said the breed was comparable to internationally acclaimed chickens, he added that the university had successfully placed, on the Nigerian poultry market, a dual purpose breed of chicken tested in rural households, suitable for egg production and poultry meat. He also said they were of hybrid yield in all forms, and had low fat.
He said, “It was tested from September 2016 to December 2017, and was found to be one of the breeds prefered for egg production under semi-scavenging and scavenging conditions.
“It is worth noting that the broiler breed, also developed for commercial meat production, attains 1.5kg at eight weeks of age, white-skinned, low-fat with tough tastier meat produced for Nigeria cuisine.
“In the same vein, the dual purpose FUNAAB Alpha attains 2.1 to 2.6kg at 20 weeks for males, 1.6 to 1.8kg for females, while eggs were improved from white to brown from 39g to 55g and from 60 to 120 eggs per annum to 200 to 250 eggs per annum.”
Salako thanked the stakeholders who had accepted the breed and put it in the market, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who funded the establishment of the PEARL-FUNAAB Chicken Breeding Centre in the university.
He also commended the International Livestock Research Institute, Ethiopia, under the African Chicken Genetic Gain, for the sub-Saharan Africa who sponsored the on-station and on-farm testing for the developed breed and supported the registration financially.