Poultry production is one of the most popular business ventures in Zimbabwe. Poultry mainly comprises of 3 main focuses namely, broilers, layers, and roadrunners. There are of course other areas of specialization but those 3 are the most common in Zimbabwe. In this article, I want to look at roadrunner chickens in particular. They are also known as free-range chickens. There are several upsides of doing roadrunner chicken production. Roadrunners are hardy which means they can survive even in the harshest of conditions. The operation costs tend to be lower in comparison to other poultry areas. Anyways, I shall be discussing the types of roadrunner chickens you can consider in Zimbabwe.
These typically have light brown feathers with a mix of white feathers. They have an incredible ability to breed on their own. They are hardy just like other free-range chickens are. They can be kept for both meat production and egg production. They can thrive in extremely cold and extremely hot weather – even from a tender age of less than a month. You can expect egg production from around 6 months in. You can get around 4 eggs per bird weekly. They can optimally lay eggs for 3 or more years. They grow rapidly and their eggs also get bigger with age. In just 3 months, cocks can be ready for slaughter. The meat tastes quite good!
Their feathers have a unique reddish colour and long legs. They tend to grow slowly which is why their meat is firmer. In a year, one bird can lay as many as 240 eggs. They can be reared using any means possible, be it deep litter, or the countryside method of letting them roam around. They are a perfect fit for both egg and meat production. It is strongly advised to not speed up their growth as that will compromise meat quality. I know some people who end up feeding them with broiler finisher to accelerate growth. They are ready for the market in around 2 and half months (not sooner). Sasso is hardy and resilient thus can withstand any harsh conditions.
This is yet again another type that is suitable for meat and egg production. Annual egg production per bird is around 250 eggs – that is around 4 to 5 eggs weekly. The colour of their feathers is quite varied. Some of them are white, brown, buff, light, red, silver, speckled, and so on. They are hardy birds as well, be it in winter or summer. However, in summer it is important to ensure they have access to shady areas plus water. It is considered a low-maintenance roadrunner chicken perfect for beginner poultry producers.
These are primarily reared for their meat though eggs can be produced. One bird has an egg production capacity of roughly 150 eggs per year. Feather colours range from light, dark to buff. Brahmas are significantly huge in their physical size. They thrive much more in environments that tend to be cool and humid. They have a lifespan of over 8 years. Egg production is usually 3 or 4 eggs per week. One of the notable downsides is that they can take more than 6 months to start laying eggs. Plus they have been noted to have huge appetites which can drive feed costs up.
This is a dual-purpose breed i.e. can be reared for both eggs and meat. Feather colours span from white, blue to black. In some cases, there can be splash, golden, and buff colours. Their annual egg production stands at approximately 250 eggs. They can even lay more given the right conditions. They are famed for their remarkable egg-laying capacity. They can thrive in small spaces just as much as they do in open spaces. They typically grow quite big so open spaces are essential for them to not get overweight. Their average life span is between 6 and 10 years. Watch out for heatstroke, they tend to be susceptible to that.
Reared for both their eggs and meat and annual egg production capacity is 190 eggs. Though it is possible for them lay as much as 280 years per year. Feather colours are usually black, white, buff, or blue. For meat production, they are ready for slaughter around 5 or so months. They do not forage so they mainly need feed to be provided. They can thrive well in cold conditions, in hot weather not so much. When it is hot you will have to provide shade, space, and water.
This is also known as the Potchefstroom Koekoek or just Potch Koekoek breed. The dual-purpose and their feather colours are black and white barred. In other words, black and white strips. They have a natural ability to hatch their eggs – hatchability at around 80 per cent. Sexual maturity is at around 4 or so weeks. The annual egg production capacity is roughly 200 eggs.
Yet another dual-purpose breed with an annual egg production capacity of around 260 eggs. Egg-laying starts at any time between 16 weeks and 20 weeks. Annual egg production spans from 150 to 300 eggs. Their feathers are usually a cross between red and brown. They are active foragers so they need to be given adequate room to do so.
Other roadrunner types to consider are Jersey Giants, Lohman Brown, Leghorn, New Hampshire, and Kuroiler. As you can see there are several roadrunner types to choose from. I know many people in Zimbabwe are familiar with only the Sassos and Boschvelds. It is essential to also consider other types since they might score bigger. I still think there is vast untapped potential in the roadrunner chickens space. I have noticed that many people struggle to get roadrunner chicks in Zimbabwe. That represents a potentially lucrative gap to cover since many people are interested in roadrunner production.