In rural communities of the Vhembe District, South Africa, poultry production is based on traditional scavenging systems at household level and chickens are kept for religious, cultural considerations, supply of negligible income and high quality food protein in the form of meat and eggs. Four experiments were conducted with the aim to improve FRIS chickens in rural communities. In the first experiment, 288 FRIS chickens were randomly purchased from six rural villages over three seasons (autumn, winter and spring) and sacrificed for crop content analysis. The FRIS chickens consumed grains, kitchen wastes, seeds from the environment, plant materials, worms and insects and some undistinguishable materials. The CP of the crop contents of grower and adult chickens were 123 g\kg DM and 118 g\kg DM, respectively. Concentrations of Al, Cu, Fe, Mn, Zn and Co were above the requirements of poultry and might pose risks to FRIS chickens health. For the second experiment, 117 FRIS chicks, 13 per age class (day 1, 4, 7, 10, 14, 17, 21, 24, 28) were randomly purchased from six rural villages in the Vhembe District, to evaluate development of the digestive tract and to determine the growth performance up to 20 weeks of age. The relative weight of the storage organs (crop, proventriculus and gizzard) and liver peaked at day 4 while small intestine and duodenum peaked at day 10. The FRIS chickens under village management were characterised by slow digestive tract development, growth performance and high mortalities. In the subsequent experiment, four FRIS chickens (1 young male and 1 young female of 10-16 weeks of age; a mature cockerel and a mature hen) were randomly purchased from each of six adjacent rural villages during three different seasons (autumn, winter and spring) to determine the meat yield and carcass chemical composition. The carcass weight, dressing %, mass of the breast, mass of the thighs, mass of the drumsticks, breast yield, thighs yield and drumsticks yield of both grower and adult FRIS chickens were not influenced by season. The meat from FRIS chickens provided a constant nutrient supply throughout the year to the rural communities. Lastly, freshly laid eggs of FRIS chickens purchased in rural villages of the Vhembe District, were hatched and randomly distributed to 27 floor pens, to determine the nutrient requirements in terms of dietary protein and metabolisable energy for growth of the indigenous chickens. During the starter and grower phases, unsexed FRIS chickens would require a dietary combinations of 170 g/kg CP and 11.0 AME MJ/kg and 150 g/kg CP and 12 AME MJ/kg in their diets to optimise weight gain and FCR and 150 g/kg and 11.3 MJ/kg to optimise ash content of muscles, protein content of the breast and fat content of the leg muscle. Protein deficit of 27 g/kg for growers between feed resource base for scavenging chickens in the rural villages and the required nutrients has to be compensated with supplemental feed. It can be recommended that supplementation of 27 g/kg to grower scavenging chickens, respectively, would be enough to improve chicken production in the rural villages. Locally available feed resources high in protein like groundnuts, beans, meat and bone scraps and insects should be used as supplement to compensate nutrient deficit intake and also to reduce input costs.