3 July : Rural poultry farming (RPF) implies rearing of poultry in small numbers in the backyards under free range or semi-intensive system. Abundant availability of natural food base such as waste, cereal, grain, pulse, grain byproducts, kitchen waste, insects, worms, green grass etc is a boon to backyard poultry in all parts of this region. Egg and meat production in NE is largely dependent on low yielding native chicken. Increasing the genetic potential of these native chicken varieties may help in increasing their productivity. However, the present selection and breeding program (Natural Selection) being adopted by farmers may not be enough to considerably increase the production of the native chicken.
Adopting RPF in backyard of rural household with improved verities of birds can ensure the availability of eggs and meat in rural/tribal areas, which could help in alleviating the incidence of protein deficiency of the susceptible group, women, children, expectant mothers and aged; besides providing supplemental income. Due to several above limitations to establish the intensive poultry farming in this region, it is always convenient to encourage small-scale rural poultry in North East region.
RPF involves rearing of improved chicken verities, under free range or semi intensive condition. Rearing method largely depend on the type of the bird reared, availability of resources and the preference of local population for meat or eggs. Specific varieties of birds are available for both (dual purpose). In areas where plenty of natural feed resources (insects, white ants, fallen grains, green grass etc) are available, a small number of birds (10-20) can be reared for meat purpose under free-range condition. If the local demand is for meat in large quality, the dual purpose or colored feathered broiler chicken can be reared under semi-intensive conditions by providing all the essentials impacts. Interestingly the majority of the verities developed for the kind of farming need about 25-30% less input in the form of movement and feed.
To fulfil the need of RPF it is necessary to develop suitable chicken verities, which thrive and survive in backyard free-range conditions of NE (high humidity and diversified climatic condition) with low to medium input (feed) resources available in their region. Predator menace, challenge with pathogens, consumer preference, lack of balanced and expensive feed are some of the other issues pertinent to this region.
Project Directorate on Poultry, Hyderabad has developed two Vanaraja and Gramopriya due to their versatile adoptability in all climate conditions of our country. The acceptance and popularity of these two verities has increased day by day in some parts of the state including Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Assam. In addition, few more chicken varieties Giriraja, Girirani, (Nanadanam UAS, Bangalore), Gramalakshmi (KAU Mannuthy), CARI, Bareilly) -99 (TANUVAS, Chennai), Kalinga brown (OUAT, Bubaneswar etc, possess colored plumage and tinted eggs skin to the Desi hen and can be tried for their suitability and adoptability under free range scavenging conditions. Other multic coloured, meat type chicken verities like Krishi-bro (PDP, Hyderabad) and CARI Dhanaraj (Cari, Barielly) can be tested for their production under semi intensive farming condition using low cost feed for promotion of broiler farming in NE Region.
Since all the above-improved bird verities developed for backyard poultry farming are hatched out artificially, they essentially require initial brooding. During juvenile period chick cannot regulate its body temperature and therefore, needs artificial heat to maintain body temperature. Additionally, young chicks are easily prone to predator attack. Therefore, they need shelter up to five weeks of age. Though majority of these chicken verities possess better immune competence than commercial broiler/layer varieties, they need to be protected from common infectious disease like Ranikhet diseases, infectious Bursal disease and fowl pox. Rearing conditions include providing artificial heat, vaccination and shelter for better survivability and performances of these birds under free-range backyard conditions, Nutrients requirement of Veneraja and Gramapriye during 1 to 42 day of age are as sure.
Metabolizable energy, Kcal/kg – 2400
Crude protein, % – 16
Lysine% – 0.77
Methionine% – 0.36
Calcium, % – 0.7
Phosphorus available, % – 0.36
To make the rural poultry farming a successful venture in the NE the region women participation, NGOs as liaison and cooperative networks aspects should be considered to accrue long-term benefits to the people in this region.
Vanaraja and Gramapriya in NE are reared under backyard free-range conditions. These are able to sustain and perform much better than native chicken on diets with higher crude fiber. These varieties were tested in NE region under two programs (jaivigyan project –NATP mission mode MM 111-3) and AICRP on poultry for their adoptability and to assess their productivity under free range conditions prevailing in some part of the north east state including Nagaland. As shown in NATP MM III-3 egg, egg production under free range conditions in Nagaland the average and range is 58.0% and 36-72% respectively.
Controlling the incidence of disease in the free range and backyard chicken is a challenging task as they are exposed to adverse environmental conditions such as weather changes, poor quality feed, contaminated water and air, predators, contracts between of buying and selling chicken are the important sources of diseases transmission. Ranikhet disease (RD) and fowl pox are most important diseases. The material used for night shelter such as wood and bamboo offers a good hiding place for external place for external parasites (like lice, flees, ticks, mites, etc and warrants) regular monitoring and examination of birds for their presence seriously. Similarly, scavenging nature of birds exposes them to several internal parasites, which affects their growth and production performance. Regular monitoring and de-worming of birds for internal parasites is very important. Rearing of multiple age groups at the same place is a reality in free range and backyard farming, which makes disease control most difficult. Besides, its is not uncommon to find different species of poultry like chicken ducks, turkeys, guinea fowls, etc in the same premises, thereby transmitting many diseases among them and could jeopardize the vaccination programme.
In addition the carcasses of birds that died of infectious disease also pose serious health hazard to the backyard chicken. Taking care of all these aspects on a community basis would offer meaningful solution to these problems. Provision of night shelter helps in controlling the mortality due to predators. Lastly, its is always beneficial to have expert opinion about any disease or abnormal symptom noticed in the flocks and undertake the treatment accordingly, rather than doing treatment as per hearsay, thereby causing more harm than good.