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Poultry is the name given to domesticated birds kept for food (eggs and meat) and feathers. Our analyses mostly consider chickens in this context. Chickens are the most predominate species of bird in the world, and chicken meat is the second most popular meat (30% of world meat production) after pork (38%). Initially, chicken domestication was for the purpose of cockfights in Asia, Africa and Europe. They originated from Asia and India, and seem to have been introduced to Africa around 500 AD. Most chickens are reared with intensive farming techniques – about 75% of the world’s poultry meat. On the other hand, chickens are the smallest livestock investment a farmer can make and they have become increasingly popular with small farmers in the developing world. In Nigeria, household poultry constitutes about 80% of all poultry stocks and in Ethiopia rural poultry supplies about 99% of national production of eggs and poultry meat. In the regional context, the Americas produce 48% of the world’s chicken meat, followed by Asia (31%), Europe (15%) and Africa (4.5%). Chicken eggs are produced primarily in Asia (62%), then the Americas (19%), Europe (15%) and Africa (4%). The big chicken meat producer in sub-Saharan Africa is South Africa (49%), followed by Nigeria (12%), Zimbabwe (3%), and Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Mauritius and Senegal (each about 2%). FAO’s egg statistics only provide aggregate numbers (for all poultry), in which case Nigeria is the leader with 34% of production, followed by South Africa (28%), Kenya (4%), Sudan and Burkina Faso (each about 3%) and Zambia, Senegal and Tanzania (each about 2%).
Reference to numbers/statistics are from FAOSTAT 2010 for the year 2008