Now a days the consumers have become aware regarding health and quality of food products consumed by them which has led to change in in their preferences from conventionally/traditionally produced food to organically grown food. An increase in purchasing power at consumers end has also drawn attention towards the organic production, and more over situation like COVID 19 has changed the attitude towards the food items being consumed.
Organic farming is defined by FAO/WHO as an approach towards production management system where the aim is to create integrated, humane, environment friendly and economically sustainable agricultural production systems, which in turn leads to production of crops, livestock, poultry, and other human nutrition with exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs.
Initially the concept of organic farming was being used for the production of crops, and it is well established in our country when compared with livestock and poultry sector. But it is becoming popular worldwide due to increase in demand of organically produced milk, meat and eggs products.
As poultry sector is growing very rapidly, and due to its short production cycle its meat can be supplied in surplus compared with other livestock meat, and moreover a small shift from conventional production to organic animal production can create a huge market to domestic consumption as well as export.
Key requirements for organic poultry production
- Selection of Breed/strain-
Indigenous or local breeds to be used over exotic ones for rearing poultry for the purpose of organic farming, as they can adapt easily in local environment and are resistant to diseases. Genetically engineered/modified breeds should not be used in organic farms because they are susceptible to many diseases. For breeding purpose natural breeding method should be preferred.
The initial stock should be purchased from organically certified units.
- Housing management–
Organic housing management should be such, that it gives poultry an environment, where it exhibit its normal behavior with minimal stress condition. There should be proper arrangements to safeguard poultry from predators, access to sunlight, open areas, clean drinking water and shade. Minimum floor space as per the requirement should be provided.
- Nutritional management-
Good quality organically grown feed should be fed to the birds, Vitamin and mineral supplements (5%) can be added to the diet. Non-synthetic substances like enzymes, probiotics and others recognized to be natural ingredients and synthetic substances can be used only those that are already approved to be used in organic poultry production. Overfeeding to be avoided. A continuous access of standard quality drinking water should be given.
Feed ingredients should be devoid of Genetically modified (GM) grain or grain by-products, antibiotics, hormones, drugs, animal by-products except milk products and fishmeal, grain by-products unless produced from certified organic crops, chemically extracted feeds.
- Healthcare management-
As antibiotics and other allopathic dugs are not permitted in organic production so preventive healthcare measures should be of primarily focus. With good managemental practices, maximum resistance against disease can be attained. Vaccination can be done only when disease is known or expected to be a problem which cannot be controlled by other management technique Use of natural medicines and methods including homeopathy, Ayurveda, natural medicine should be emphasized.
- Maintenance of Records-
Record keeping is of utmost importance. For future references systematically recording of data, observations should be done. Records like parental origin, source, breed, feed, production etc. data should be maintained properly.
- Waste management-
The excreta and manure collection from organic poultry farm and its disposal should be done in such a way that degradation of soil and water is minimum.
- Transportation and slaughter-
There should be minimal stress while transporting and slaughtering. During transportation feed, water, and rest should be given at regular time intervals.
While slaughtering cleaning and disinfection should be performed as prescribed by the organic council.
Advantages of organic poultry farming
- There is sustainable uses of resources
- Birds required less space than conventional method and growth rate is relatively on higher side.
- Less or no use of chemicals
- Organic chicken have fewer toxins than commercially raised poultry which contain hormones, antibiotics and trace amount of pesticide
- Recycling of organic waste is possible
- Organic chicken is healthier than non- organic chicken. It tastes better, it also prevent the spreads of anti-biotic resistant bacteria
- Low investment because of interdependence of poultry and cropping.
Constraints of organic poultry farming
- There is lack of knowledge about organic poultry farming among the farmers
- There is deficiency in supporting infrastructure, lack of adequate financial support, inadequate local certifying agencies and lack of marketing channels
Proper training facilities for farmers are not adequate.
Dr. Ankita RautelaPhD Animal Physiology, ICAR-NDRI