As landholdings shrink in Haryana owing to residential colonies and industry,poultry seems to have become a new means of livelihood. The state has seen a jump of 10-15 per cent in its poultry business just in the past six months with those owning dry,infertile lands in south Haryana waking up to high demands and higher returns as they shifted from backyard to large farms,from white chicken breeds to rearing the exotic.
Poultry in Haryana is no more restricted to backyard farming. With investment ranging between Rs 2 to 5 crore,industrialists,big farmers and landlords are establishing large poultry farms. Haryanas poultry population now stands at 1.90 lakh up from one crore two years ago and the jump has mainly come from the south Haryana belt. The daily egg production of the state has touched 1.5 crore.
Basically,a vegetarian state,Haryana is exporting most of its produce to Delhi,Madhya Pradesh,West Bengal,Assam and Bihar. We are now the fourth largest producer of eggs after Andhra Pradesh,Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, says poultry manager to Government of Haryana,S K Khanna.
There are nearly 133 large poultry farms in Haryana with some having up to three lakh birds. Though Barwala is the poultry hub of the state,other districts such as Jind,Gurgaon,Bhiwani,Panchkula,Karnal,Rohtak,Fatehabad,Yamunanagar and now Sonipat and Hisar too are going the poultry way. The largest and hi-tech farm with 10 lakh birds is also coming up in Haryana at Jind.
Punjab,which lost out to its neighbour during days of terrorism,is also catching up and now produces a crore eggs a day. However,when it comes to diversified poultry,Punjab steals a march over Haryana.
Many non-resident Indians (NRIs) and progressive poultry farmers are using their farms to rear exotic varieties such as quails,turkeys,guinea fowls and emus,a trend which is only starting to be visible in Haryana.
The non-fertile land and hot climate of south Haryana offers a great scope for diversified poultry. Many in Rewari belt are now experimenting in emu farming,” adds Khanna.
Punjab is one of the leading producers of turkeys with 22,000 birds being bred and another 1,000 adding up every year,says its animal husbandry department.
Also up on demand are emus and quails. The Central Poultry Development Organisation (CPDO),Northern Region,which is headquartered at Chandigarh has seen a 30 per cent higher demand for quails,a native of Japan. It is a rich source of vitamin and can be bred by small farmers, says its director Dr K Ravvi Kumarr.
The main breeding centre for producing hatched eggs to be supplied to state governments,the CPDO,North,recorded production of 10 lakh quail eggs last year,five lakh for table variety and five lakh for hatching.
Overall we sold 56,000 parent stock last year and our revenue from sales has jumped from Rs 76 lakh in 2007-08 to Rs 1.43 crore in 2010-11. From parent quails,broilers to desi varieties such as Karak Nath,there is growing demand for all, Kumarr adds.
And though producing white eggs is more commercially viable varieties such as White Leg Horn,the most popular commercial strain of white egg layer chicken,produce 320 eggs per year against 220 per annum produced by coloured chicken varieties such as Red Cornish and Barred Plymouth Rock and also less expensive to maintain many farmers are now experimenting with desi and exotic ones mainly for better returns.
The black-blooded Karak Nath,which has very high content of pigment melanin,has many takers.
Karak Nath is a premium quality country chicken. It is now being preferred to routine briolers as it is low in cholesterol,high in nutrition, says Anubhav Chawan of Anubhav Poultry Farms which breeds the Karak Nath variety at its farm at Mohali in Punjab.
The high demand for the exotic has now taken them also into diversified poultry. The company is now rearing 170 pairs of emu chicks in its 1.5 acre farm at Rurka village in Mohali. The aim,says Abhinav,is also to promote emu farming as a backyard venture for small farmers.
Even if a small farmer keeps three pairs of emu,his investment is just Rs 50,000. The returns can be anywhere between Rs 1 to 1.5 lakh as emus lay 30-35 eggs each year and they sell between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 each.
Emu farming is an upcoming business in Punjab as the highly adaptable bird,a native of Australia,is easy to maintain and can be very useful,right from its oil (used in lotions and ointments),feathers (used in hats,decoratives),skin (leather for shoes,jackets and purses),shells and nails (for decoratives,jewellery) to low cholesterol meat, he adds.
There’s another reason thats luring farmers to poultry business in south Haryana that sizzles in summers.
One acre of land can house 50 emus. The bird starts laying eggs after one-and-half years and has a life span of 25 years. A emu chick fetches a price of Rs 5000 and an egg over Rs 1000. Best still,it has a low mortality rate. It can survive in temperatures up to 50 degrees, says Khanna.
But the poultry boom isnt without problems. While it has ensured good returns and helped bring wasteland in Haryana to use,Barwala is facing out of control fly menace,odour and pollution owing to poor hygiene maintained by poultry farmers. The state is trying to address the problem of litter by using the hen droppings to generate power.