Muhammad Waseem Zia
Poultry has remained a tremendous source to produce meat and eggs to accomplish the requirements of the individuals of the country and is playing a significant role to the provision of the animal protein foods. Before the 1960s, traditionally, the local chickens were kept for backyard poultry production. The time came when due to an abrupt rise in the human population of the country a big gap created between the demand and supply of animal protein.The commercial poultry was then started after the mid-1960s to fulfill the consumers’ requirement. The commercial poultry is though contributing excellently; even then the people of Pakistan are facing a severe shortage of poultry meat and eggs.
Due to current animal protein scarcity situation in Pakistan, the Nutritionists started to exploit other possible sources for egg and poultry meat production and hypothesized that local poultry breeds may be the most encouraging alternate. But one of the main concerns to raise local poultry was its low performance. It has been indicated by the researchers that selenium (a micro-mineral) addition in the poultry diets enhances the productive and reproductive performance of the poultry more efficiently. Keeping this concept in mind, a team of the researchers planned to conduct a study on Aseel, a recognized local poultry breed. Among local poultry breeds of Pakistan, Aseel is known for its excellent meat quality, pleasant taste, and appealing texture. Aseel can also be a better option to raise in the tropical and sub-tropical areas of the country.
The poultry products especially produced by a non-commercial or non-industrial production system are also offering a good opportunity to raise local poultry. However, from the production point of view, Aseel is a low producer, but still has an important economic role in most of the rural and semi-urban households. Despite, having considerable potential, insufficient research has been conducted so far on this precious breed.
An extensive research work on Aseel was conducted by a team of the researchers to investigate the influence of organic and inorganic selenium on growth, slaughter traits, egg production, egg quality and hatching characteristics in four well-known varieties of Aseel including Lakha, Mushki, Peshawar, and Mianwali. A series of experiments were carried out in which poultry birds were offered the diets supplemented with organic selenium (Se-enriched yeast) or inorganic selenium (sodium selenite) from 4 to 42 weeks.
The results showed that those poultry birds who received organic selenium supplemented feed presents enhanced growth rate, body weight, dressed weight and the meat of good quality enriched with selenium; Aseel hens showed better egg production, egg quality (selenium-enriched eggs), and hatching characters.
Moreover, the livability was also improved. Based on these results, it is concluded that Se-enriched yeast (the organic form of selenium) is the most promising and superior diet supplement to improve the productive and reproductive performance of Aseel chickens and by adopting this strategy more eggs and meat of superior quality can be produced by raising Aseel in small poultry units; and hence the poultry farmers, especially with open poultry sheds, can easily be able to generate the wholesome income for their livelihood.