Free ranging chickens reared by smallholder farmers represent genetic diversity suited for particular environments and shaped by the socio-economic and cultural values of the farming systems. This study sought to investigate the existence of chicken strains and evaluate the breeding goals and strategies used by village chicken farmers in Zimbabwe. A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to 97, 56, 70, 104 and 37 households randomly selected from five agro-ecological-zones I-V, respectively. Fifteen chicken strains mostly defined by morphological traits were reported in the five eco-zones. Production criteria such as body size, and fertility were highly ranked (ranging from 1.3 - 2.6) by farmers across all the eco-zones, while cultural traits were the least preferred production traits. As a common breeding practice, farmers chose the type of hens and cocks to retain for breeding purposes and these randomly mixed and mated with others from community flocks. Chicken body size was ranked the major determinant in choosing breeding animals followed by mothering ability, and fertility. More households culled chickens associated with poor reproductive performance, poor growth rates and those intolerant to disease pathogens. The focus on many negatively correlated production traits and the absence of farmer records compromises breeding strategies in these production systems
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