Characterizing local chicken types and their mostly rural production systems is prerequisite for designing and implementing development and conservation programs. This study evaluated the management practices of small-scale chicken keepers and the phenotypic and production traits of their chickens in Oman, where conservation programs for local livestock breeds have currently started. Free-range scavenging was the dominant production system, and logistic regression analysis showed that socio-economic factors such as training in poultry keeping, household income, income from farming and gender of chicken owners influenced feeding, housing, and health care practices (p<0.05). A large variation in plumage and shank colors, comb types and other phenotypic traits within and between Omani chicken populations were observed. Male and female body weight differed (p<0.05), being 1.3?0.65 kg and 1.1±0.86 kg respectively. Flock size averaged 22?7.7 birds per household with 4.8 hens per cock. Clutch size was 12.3±2.85 and annual production 64.5±2.85 eggs per hen. Egg hatchability averaged 88±6.0% and annual chicken mortality across all age and sex categories was 16±1.4%. The strong involvement of women in chicken keeping makes them key stakeholders in future development and conservation programs, but the latter should be preceded by a comprehensive study of the genetic diversity of the Omani chicken populations.
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