What Went Wrong with the Old Sasso?… Now Comes Sunshine Chicken
It used to be that the Sasso chicken from France was very popular with a lot of local growers, especially the smaller raisers that included backyard raisers and hobbyists. Of course, the Sasso also appealed to those with commercial intentions.
In the first several years, many raisers praised the plump body of the bird, its fast growth, its sturdiness and of course its taste that resembles that of the native chicken. The big difference, however, is that the Sasso meat is more tender.
In the past few years, however, many of the growers have become disgruntled. Their chickens did not grow as fast and as big as before. One municipality in Pangasinan dispersed thousands of Sasso chicks several years ago. The intention was to improve the chickens the small farmers were growing. The recipients are not really impressed now. An expatriate and his Filipino wife in Abra used to have a commercial operation raising Sasso chicken in their resort and selling dressed birds as well as liver pate and other processed chicken meat. They have slowed down in their business as the latest chicks they obtained, according to them, did not perform as well as they used to do.
Eventually, the other year, the usual Sasso chicks were no longer available in the market. What could be the reason?
Dr. Rey Itchon who used to sell Sasso chicks in Isabela explained that replacement of parent stocks was not done regularly. He explained that the first generation chickens that were sold in the beginning should not have been used as breeders to produce chicks for sale or for growing. Many of the farmers who bought Sasso had the wrong notion that if they bought the birds, they could breed them and produce the
chicks which they can sell as chicks or grow for meat.
That’s a big mistake, according to Dr. Itchon, a veterinarian. That’s because the second or third generations after the F1 or first generation will not perform as well as the Fl. The breed degenerates and the birds may not grow uniformly. Many of them would be runts, and, therefore, not economically viable to raise, especially with the present high cost of feeds.
Fortunately for the lovers of free-range chickens, the Sasso type is here once more and with a program to regularly import parent stocks for the production of F 1 birds for meat production as well as for egg production.
A new partnership is now producing the Sunshine chicks using parent stocks imported from the Sasso company in France. One partner is Rey Ramos, an experienced hand in the poultry business. He is in charge of breeding and hatching the Sunshine chicks in his farm in San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija. The first batch of breeders consisting of 1,500 females and 250 males are the ones producing at least 5,000 chicks per week now. A second batch of over 2,200 females are in the growing house and are expected to produce eggs for hatching shortly. Every six months, a new batch of parent stocks will be imported to ensure a stable supply of quality chicks for meat or egg production. Rey and Sandy Itchon are the partners in charge of marketing while a finance man takes charge of the financials.
The Sunshine chicken is not only for meat production. It is also a good layer. In fact Jocelyn Velonza and David Oman (a British) are partners in producing Sunshine eggs which sell for a minimum of P7 to P10 each. They now produce over a thousand eggs every day which are sold in Metro Manila, particularly in the upscale specialty food stores and restaurants.
According to Rey and Sandy Itchon, the Sunshine chicken is becoming increasingly popular in many parts of the country. There are now many growers in Cebu, Mindanao and of course in many places in Luzon. The Itchons have a stocking area in Fairview, Quezon City. Stocks are also available at the AANI Weekend Market at the FTI Complex in Taguig City, and at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.
There are specialty food products from Sunshine chickens that are in their planning stage. One is the production of capons for a special niche market. Another is the production of chicken sausage ala Alaminos longanisa. Alaminos, Pangasinan is where Sandy Itchon has her own roots. And the town is famous for its special longanisa. One of her dreams is to come up with that unique chicken longanisa using the tender Sunshine chicken meat.