Rearing game fowl at high altitude is the favored method by most breeders.
The successes of Negros cocks, Zamboanga fowl and the roosters of other highland farms are often credited to high altitude raising. But, is high altitude really the magic formula?
Let‟s have a closer look at the pros and cons of high altitude.
Altitude means height above sea level. The higher the altitude the lower is the atmospheric pressure. Temperature and humidity are also low at high altitude areas. These facts contribute to factors that may be beneficial or detrimental to raising chickens.
It is true that at high altitude birds develop several physiological responses to make it possible to live in such an environment that makes a game fowl more physically fit for fighting.
After just a couple of weeks, the red blood cells (RBC) and hemoglobin counts of the chicken increase. As a result, there is an increase in the system’s capacity to carry oxygen in the blood. Moreover, the mean cell volume (MCV), decreases so the total surface of RBC is enlarged, which enhances hemoglobin‟s ability to bind oxygen, and circulate it through the organs in the body.
Birds at high altitude also develop higher respiration frequency. This is in order to maintain adequate oxygen transfer and circulation in the blood. Once the bird is adapted to high altitudes a mutation may ensue that favorably affects amino acid residues that increases oxygen affinity. High oxygen affinity will increase oxygen saturation of blood.
However, there are also disadvantages. What is the downside? Read Roosterman No. 23 (p. 6-7)