Poultry and Animal Protein Supply: With the foregoing considerations, the place of poultry in the Nigerian livestock scene is clear. Poultry is the quickest source of meat and its production involves the least hazardous and arduous process in relation to other livestock enterprises. How can these peculiarities be gainfully exploited?
The level of consumption of meat and animal protein in Nigeria is estimated at about 8 gm per caput per day, about 28 gm less than the minimum requirement recommended by the FAO. The task of closing this animal protein gap in the face of the constraints discussed above is a formidable one. The outlook is also bleak with exploding population, urbanization, inflation and depletion of the national livestock herd due to extraneous circumstances of drought or legislation of those countries which enjoy grazing rights in Nigeria. Increased poultry production would appear to be the surest way of closing the protein gap at least in the short run. With its characteristic, low capital requirement and quick returns and the fact that it suffers no ecological constraints or social taboo, poultry production offers the best logical solution to our national meat scarcity.
Poultry as Meat: Poultry raised for meat are called broilers. At maturity, a broiler weighs about 1.5 kg dressed carcass. This is equivalent to about 300 gm of animal protein which is sufficient to satisfy an adult animal protein requirement for 3 days. When it is considered that it takes only about 10 weeks to raise a broiler to slaughter weight and takes about 4.5 kg of feed, it is then easily appreciated that a household of six can derive their entire animal protein requirement from one broiler a day.
Poultry Eggs: Eggs are considered a wholesome diet since an egg contains adequate amounts of protein, energy, amino acid, vitamins and minerals to satisfy the body needs. An average egg weighs about 65 gm with shell, about 50 gm without shell and contains about 6 gm of protein. A child or adult who eats egg every day is therefore sure of meeting at least one fifth of his daily requirement of animal protein from egg alone. Many good layers can produce an average of 80 percent egg production. This means that ten layers of this flock produced on the average 8 eggs a day, enough to furnish one egg a day to a household of 8 persons.