Poultry is one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural sector in India. Poultry plays an important role in the Indian economy and is an important sub-sector of livestock. Backyard poultry production is an age-old practice in rural India. The state sector has been taking care of backyard poultry units and the capital requirement of its co-operatives. Backyard farming has over the years contributed to a great extent to the agrarian economy of India. It provides livelihood security to the family, Unemployed youth and women can also earn an income through poultry farming.
Good practices to be followed for backyard poultry farming
- Disease-free, improved strain, dual-purpose poultry birds may be procured for backyard poultry farming.
- Periodical vaccination should be done on regular basis
- Clean drinking water and fungus free feed should be supplied to the birds.
- The poultry shed should be regularly cleaned and free from moisture and humid condition.
- Overcrowding should be avoided.
- If possible there should be separate space for the different age group of birds.
- The sick bird should be immediately separated/ culled from the healthy flock.
- Poultry equipment particularly waterer and feeder should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- There should be a restriction for outsider into the poultry shed or farm.
- The birds should be free from predators and should not be scared by other animals.
- Before procuring new flocks the shed should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- There should be provision for footbath in front of poultry shed.
- During summer and winter months the shed should be protected from the hot or cold wind by hanging curtain around the side of the wall or shed. In summer months water sprinkling also can be done.
Indigenous chicken breeds suitable for India
Desi or indigenous birds are generally poor performers in egg and meat production. To obtain maximum profit from backyard poultry farming there is an urgent need in the country to improve the status of backyard poultry farming with an improved strain, which performs an excellent result when raised in the backyard with low inputs. Understanding the importance of backyard rural poultry farming in India, several research organizations have developed different backyard chicken breeds which have successfully been reared by farmers from many parts of the country. Phenotypically these birds look like their original native breed with two or three times more egg production with bigger size and weight, better tropical adaptability and disease resistance along with the capability of bearing the stress of sub-optimal feeding and management. Backyard poultry system is a common practice all over the country; some of the government organization has developed new improved varieties/breeds of chicken suitable for backyard system with more productivity in both eggs and meat quality.
“Backyard poultry farming acts as an ‘ATM’, as per family needs – the birds and eggs can be sold at anytime,anywhere for cash in hand.”
Advantages of backyard poultry farming
- Low initial investment but higher economic return.
- It is free ranging system so feed cost is negligible due to better utilization of agricultural by-products and leftover feed and grains.
- Egg and birds can be sold in the local market with a high price because there is a growing demand for local chicken.
- Boost up in family income for better utilization of family laborers
- Backyard poultry farming acts as an ‘ATM’, as per family needs, the birds and eggs can be sold at anytime anywhere for cash in hand.
- Quality of chicken and egg is better in terms of organic farming as the birds are raised in stress less environment with natural input. It is eco-friendly approach.
- Gives employment to the rural small-scale and marginal farmers.
- Aids in enhancing the soil fertility in backyards (15 chickens produce 1- 1.2 kg of manure/ day).
- Products from rural poultry farming fetch high price compared to those from intensive poultry Farming.
- Birds reared under free-range conditions give eggs and meat of low cholesterol concentration compared to those produced under intensive poultry farming.
Rural backyard poultry husbandry in elevating the food and nutrition security of the poorest households and reducing the livelihood insecurity. Backyard poultry is a potent tool for the improvement of poor because it requires hardly any infrastructure set-up. Besides income generation and poverty reduction, rural backyard poultry can provide better nutrition in the form of valuable animal protein. The native chicken varieties adopted in free-range backyard conditions for centuries contribute about 11% of total egg production in India. Thus, since time immemorial and even today Backyard poultry provides an excellent potential of rural empowerment.
This article was authored by Dr. Prabakar. G from Central Avian Research Institute -CARI, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izatnagar and his team Nirmal kumar. C, Magadevan. K, Shankar. N and Rajesh kanna. M from Imayam Institute of Agriculture and Technology, Trichy, Tamil Nadu. This was originally published in ‘The Agraria’ Agricultural e-Magazine.