Key criteria and models for implementing a sustainable chicken breeding and distribution program for smallholder poultry producers

Kelly R. Wilson, Terra R. Kelly, David Bunn, Huaijun Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Breeding technology has made significant contributions to the global commercial poultry industry, allowing researchers to develop strains with specific traits for improved productivity and efficiency. Although smallholder poultry production is a prominent activity throughout the world, these advances in breeding technologies have mostly impacted commercial systems and remain inaccessible to smallholders who could benefit from them. This exploratory study sought the perspectives of poultry experts, including individuals from research and academia, veterinary services, private breeding, and international development organizations, to identify key considerations when developing a chicken breeding and distribution program that is sustainable and accessible to smallholder poultry producers. The study involved two phases and consisted of focus groups, qualitative interviews, then quantitative poultry expert questionnaires. Nine key considerations and three unique models of breeding and distribution programs were identified and evaluated for potential sustainability in the family poultry system. Market development and training and education were ranked top criteria to include in program development, and certain chicken traits, especially adaptability to local environment and disease resistance, were considered important to retain in breeding activities. Heifer’s Passing on the Gift model was selected as most appropriate for a rural setting, while a contract farming model was preferred for a peri-urban/urban setting. This study identified generalized information that can contribute to program development, but site-specific, farmer-driven research is necessary to create effective chicken breeding and distribution programs that are accessible and meets the needs of smallholder poultry producers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalLivestock Research for Rural Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Breeding and distribution models
  • Expert survey
  • Poultry breeding programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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