Rakesh Kumar1, N. Uttam Singh2, Meena Das2, Pankaj Kumar Sinha3, Bagish Kumar4, Pampi Paul2, B U Choudhury2 and S. Hazarika2
The North East Himalayan (NEH) region is dominated by a meat-loving population that generally accepts eating meat. Around 70% of the population in NEH relies on agriculture as their primary source of income. However, the hilly terrain, climatic factors, and economic circumstances restrict people’s ability to capitalize on the agricultural potential in the region effectively. An increasing number of farmers in the area have switched to backyard poultry farming to boost their income and ensure the nutritional sustainability of their communities. Due to the prevalence of traditional poultry farming methods and reliance on local indigenous birds, the region’s overall poultry output is limited despite significant demand for meat and eggs. Evidence shows native local breeds suffer from stunted growth and limited egg production. We introduced dual-purpose backyard poultry birds such as Vanaraja, Gramapriya, and Kuroiler varieties to meet the region’s particular needs. These birds have a high production potential and were brought in to overcome the limitations of the local breeds and enhance their socio-economic status. Notably, poultry farming in the state continues to expand, owing to the benevolence of farmers towards their poultry and their consistent efforts to incorporate various scientific training and demonstration activities organized by ICAR-RC-NEH, Umiam.
Intervention under the SCSP Project
The progressive farmers of Kalibari village in the East Khasi Hill District, under the Shella-Bholaganj Block in Meghalaya, have been actively engaged in backyard poultry farming. They have undergone capacity-building programmes, including training sessions, farmers’ field day cum awareness programmes. These initiatives have equipped them with the necessary knowledge and skills for the scientific management of poultry farms, encompassing housing, feeding, breeding and health care under the scheduled caste sub plan (SCSP) project of ICAR (RC) for NEH, Umiam, Meghalaya. Beneficiary houses were regularly visited for scheduled health check-ups and to gather data on the poultry’s growth performance and egg production during 2020-22. The farmers were provided explicit guidance on preparing affordable poultry feed using feed materials readily accessible locally. Additionally, the farmers were educated on the importance of maintaining proper hygiene and sanitation practices on their poultry farms to prevent the outbreak of diseases. They were also taught how to identify common health issues in poultry and administer essential treatments, reducing their reliance on external veterinary services.
Impact and significance of the lesson
Mr Sanjit Baidya, a 33-year-old educated progressive farmer living in Kalibari village, received 80 four-week-old chicks. Unfortunately, 11 of the chicks died at six weeks of age. He constructed a poultry shed with concrete walls and a floor with a tin roof. To minimize feed costs, he provides small amounts of homemade and grower chicken feed. He provides grower feed to the chicken @3.1-3.7 kg feed/day, costing ₹ 29/kg of feed. At 19 weeks, the chicken had reached a body weight of around 2.1-3.2 kg and had started laying eggs. He sold live birds at a price range of 300 to 500 ₹ each bird, while eggs were occasionally sold for 10 to 12 ₹ per egg. On average, he has profited of 27,900.00 ₹ from selling live birds and 3,000.00 ₹ from selling eggs. He has gained a total net income of 30,900.00 ₹. His total expenditure for feed and other inputs during these periods was noted to be ₹ 15049.00. The B: C ratio was found to be 2.05. This man’s success has also motivated others, and many farm women/men and other unemployed youths have come forward to start backyard poultry farming in their village. The people have also expressed their happiness for the performance of birds because of their low mortality, faster growth rate and higher egg production with large-sized eggs. The success of backyard poultry keeping needs to be popularized to address the increasing household income and nutritional security of the person.