Poultry farming fast growing in Kashmir

Srinagar: With poultry development in Kashmir, the import of broiler chicken is declining fast. Due to the arduous and determined efforts of the Animal Husbandry Department, the local rearing of broilers has risen to 30 million per annum as against 1 million just few years back. It has been providing opportunities to thousands of educated jobless youth in the Valley besides proving a milestone in accomplishing self-reliance in poultry meat production. More such enterprises are in the pipeline and time is not far away when the Valley would not only achieve self-sufficiency but would also provide supplies to the adjoining States.
Nevertheless, even after achieving such landmarks, self-sufficiency in its entirety cannot be said to be inclusive unless all the inputs for the commercial broiler endeavours are produced locally; day old broiler chicks and poultry feed top the list. It would be throbbing to note that we still lose an enormous five hundred million rupees per year on this account. It could well be incredible to make a note of how much employment generation would take place if we would be able to trim down such flight of capital.
To produce day old broiler chicks locally we need to set up poultry breeding (Broiler Parent Stock) farms in the Valley. The technical parameters to be followed in a breeding farm are to some extent similar to the ones we need to follow in a commercial enterprise, nevertheless in a stringent sense. The agro-climatic conditions of the Valley are to a larger extent very much conducive for parent stock rearing when compared with the neighbouring States of Punjab and Haryana where the temperatures in the summers are soaring and range between 48°C to 52°C at which point the birds experience tremendous stress. The egg production comes down from 80 per cent to 20 per cent. The pathogenic load in the bird increases enormously. During monsoons, the protozoan diseases have their effect on the parent stocks resulting in mortalities beyond comprehensible limits. Even after encountering such huge losses, these breeders make a fortune out of the supplies of day old chicks to the Valley and other States. Comparatively, the climate of the Valley is much more conducive for the rearing of parent stocks. The temperature in the summer months does not go beyond 350C and in the winter months it is quite easier to keep the sheds comfortable for the birds as raising the temperature is quite easier than to reduce the elevated ambient temperatures. The mortalities in the stocks and the drop in the egg production due to the vagaries in the weather shall not be a limiting factor in our prized Valley.
The Grand Parent Stock breeds used for production of Broiler Parent Stock belong to the temperate regions of the world whose agro-climatic conditions are akin to our Valley and, therefore, their acclimatization shall be quite easy and production parameters can well be harvested utmost in our Valley.
The general perception about the establishment of a breeding farm with an associated hatchery in the Valley is that there might be huge capital participation. It would be significant to reveal that the investment entailed depends upon the capacity of the breeding farm to be customised and is fairly similar to the one critical for a commercial broiler farm. The only divergence is the space requirement per unit; under deep litter system for a commercial broiler, it is one square foot per bird while as for a broiler parent stock, it is three square feet per bird. The equipment requirement for the hatchery is also not so huge. The setters and hatchers available in different capacities are not too highly placed cost-wise as a setter (of 13500 eggs capacity) and a hatcher (of 4500 eggs capacity) does not cost more than two hundred thousand bucks. The recurring cost involvement necessitates outflow on feeding the chicks up to first six months only after which the returns from the sale of day old chicks’ recompenses the feeding costs up to final disposal of the birds. The break-even point can be accomplished with a parent stock of as low as 2000 birds.
The establishment of breeding farms in the Valley would facilitate the stress free delivery of day old chicks up to the commercial farms due to less distance to be covered as against the supplies from Punjab and Haryana where the distance is hundreds of kilometres.
Since the birds are supposed to be reared up to 72 weeks approximately and most of the diseases are preventable through vaccination and other prophylactic means, therefore the risk of losses through pathogenic diseases gets minimised. To promulgate the establishment of such breeding farms in the Valley in the private sector, the Department has instituted Broiler Production Organisation associated with Modern Hatchery at Hariparbath where such an operation is being carried out successfully. This flourishing manoeuvre should act as a torch bearer and should attract the entrepreneurs towards this thriving venture.
It would be significant to know that breeding farm ventures in the Valley would usher in an era of affluence and prosperity as the market shall get stabilized to a greater extent. The huge market for the establishment of breeding farms and hatcheries is waiting with open arms for the entrepreneurs to take advantage of such an opportunity and help the Valley to achieve economic independence in the poultry endeavours.

Author Dr. Syed Mohamad Altaf Gilani
The author is a Veterinarian and can be mailed at gilanismaltaf@gmail.com

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