Among the major types of poultry chicken is considered as the major choice for the production and consumption of meat and eggs, however the following types of poultry birds should also be considered:
TYPES OF POULTRY
Chicken is the most popular type of poultry bird that is kept by humans as a source of meat and eggs. UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in the Economist that the population of chickens around the world had raised to 19 billion in 2011 and has been ever increasing from since then.
Generally, there are many breeds of chicken for backyard poultry farming or commercial production but they can be classified further into three main types:
These breeds are popular for their high egg laying capacity. Some major ones are the hybrid that are commonly known as Golden Comet. Other layer breeds are White Leghorn, Plymouth Rock and Hamburg.
Hens start laying eggs at 16 to 20 weeks age and lay round about 300 eggs during the first year. Eggs are a great source of Energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.
The meat producing breeds have a high feed conversion ratio (FCR) which means they are able to convert their feed into meat more efficiently and in small amount of time. The most popular type is the Cornish cross and related hybrids that can gain 10 to 12 lbs weight in only 6 to 8 weeks.
Both white and dark meat is produced by chickens and it contains less fat content than other poultry types. Younger and tender chickens can be cooked by any cooking method while older birds should be braised or stewed.
And then there are also some types of chicken which are good for both purpose, egg and meat. They are usually reared as backyard poultry. They usually lay large brown-shelled eggs. Some great dual-purpose breeds are Rhode Island Red and New Hampshire.
Some laying and dual-purpose hens tend to get broody, which means they will want to sit on and hatch eggs. Because broody hens don’t lay eggs, egg production will be affected.
Guinea fowl originate from Africa and were usually wild birds. Most of the guinea fowl kept at the farms are the domesticated form of helmeted guinea fowl. The exact time of the domestication of Guinea fowl is unknown but it is said that they were present in Greece in the 5th century BC.
They are not only present in Africa but also popular all around the world. Usually small backyard farmers raise these birds. The average weight of domesticated guinea fowl is 1.3 Kg and they lay 6 to 12 eggs.
They have large high shrieking voice that works as a security system against preys at small farms and help in the reduction of pests and snakes at the farm.
They are low maintenance birds which means they do not require much sheltering etc, they can survive on a confined area but they like to wander a lot so better not let them free on the farm.
Guinea fowls like to wander far and do not need much sheltering. They are able to fly high enough on the trees for roosting at night and protect themselves from predators.
Among the different types of poultry geese are the ones that were domesticated early. They require more maintenance as compared to hens but are rewarding.
Geese produce 20 to 40 eggs per year and their egg’s size is large enough to make a full omelet. They are much larger, and they have been selected for that larger size, with domesticated breeds weighing up to 10 kilograms (22 lb)
Geese produce delicious dark meat and their fluffy feathers are used for stuffing pillows. Roasted goose is often served with an acidic fruit-based sauce to off-set the fattiness.
They are also excellent guard animals but require relatively more space, about 10 square feet per bird. Usually these birds are aggressive but when raised at a farm with care they are friendly and docile.
Turkeys are large poultry birds that gain weight quickly just like chickens. Domestication of turkey occurred almost 2000 years ago. Domestic turkey is raised in temperate regions of the world.
Young turkeys are very active, they perch and roost and fly short distances however they become less active when they become older in age.
They average weight of domesticated turkey is 13.4 Kg. The most consumed variety of turkeys are broad breasted white and broad breasted bronze. Turkey eggs hatch after 28 days of incubation and hatched birds of turkey are called poults. These are then brooded for 7 days and they gain their average weight in 14 to 16 weeks.
Turkeys are highly nutritious and their meat is popular for its lower fat content. Unlike chicken, duck, and quail eggs, turkey eggs are not commonly sold as food due to the high demand for whole turkeys and the lower output of turkey eggs as compared with other fowl.
The value of a single turkey egg is estimated to be about US $3.50 on the open market, substantially more than a single carton of one dozen chicken eggs.
Ducks are closely related to swan and geese however they are smaller in size. Ducks have shorter necks, wings and have a stout body. They have many uses as a domestic bird being used as meat, eggs and their feathers.
Ducks are also hunted for food and sport. The average weight of a duck is 0.7 to 1.6 Kg. The runner duck, the Cayuga, the blue Swedish and the Buff duck are among the top layer ducks with an average egg production of 180 eggs. Poor egg producers such as Mallard Duck produce around 60 eggs in a year.
Duck is a favorite type of poultry for many people for its excellent texture. The most consumed duck type is the young duckling and has more fat on it. A 2 kg duck will serve 2 people while a 2 kg chicken can serve about 4 people. To cook it better you should remove as much fat from it as possible.
Pigeons are the world’s oldest domesticated birds. Research shows that these birds were domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago. They have helped in times of wars by working as messengers, called war-pigeons and many of them have been decorated with war medals etc.
Trained domestic pigeons are able to return to the home loft if released at a location that they have never visited before and that may be up to 1000 km away.
Pigeons are also bred for meat and are called squab and harvested from young birds. The meat production breeds of pigeon that is developed by selective breeding is known as “King” pigeon and collectively the meat pigeons are called utility pigeons.
Pigeons are also kept for flying and sport purpose. Breeds known as tipplers are flown in stamina contests. The average weight of a rock pigeon which includes the domestic pigeon is around 360 grams.
Quails are small game birds. They weights from 75 to 134 grams and usually feeds on grains and seed. Some people also practice quail hunting but farm raised quail can also be purchased.
These birds are filled with delicious protein and essential vitamins and minerals making them a nutritious type of poultry especially if you remove the skin before eating them and cook them without a lot of added fat.