Backyard poultry farming in india

Before we begging, it is important to understand the importance of backyard poultry farming on a larger scale and how much it contributes at a national level. 25% of all poultry production comes from backyard poultry farming. These farmers are small farmers with less than 50 birds and are usually managed by women or the elderly with very small land holdings and often no land holdings at all.

The backyard poultry population is expected to be a whopping 320 Million birds in 2017 and is expected to increase by 45 % at least every 3 years. 

While commercial poultry farming has had its own time and set of benefits, the Indian government is expecting to increase backyard poultry farming to meet the goal of increased production of both meat and eggs over the coming years. 

Benefits of Back yard farming in comparison with commercial poultry farming

The best traits of indigenous Chicken

Indigenous birds are known for their better-tasting eggs and meat. The nutritional values too are much higher in these birds which scavenge for their food. The fat-muscle ratio is balanced and the meat is thus healthier for consumption too. From the farmer’s point of view, these birds are also very resilient and can adapt better to their natural lifestyles. They are not prone to diseases easily and are highly immune to common diseases and if one occurs, they recover faster than birds that are caged like the commercial varieties. 

Breeds of Indigenous Native Chicken in India

Rooster WeightHen WEightAge at first egg layingTotal eggs per year
Ankleshwar1.81.66 months78-80
Haringhata Black1.31.1545
Kashmir Faverella1.21770-75
Punjab Brown2.11.5570

Among the indigenous birds the Nicobar is known to have the highest egg production and the Chittagong, Aseel and Hansli are known to have the highest weight for meat production. Unfortunately, the best birds for your region may not be the ones that have the highest egg production or body weight. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand native birds, which are native to the area are best suited for poultry production. Birds from another region may not thrive as well as those which are native. For instance, the Mewari and Ankleshwar do great in Rajasthan and Gujarat but may not do well in tropical areas like Kerala and Himachal.

Limitations of Backyard poultry farming

When it comes to poultry farming it’s all about balance. You may opt for more maintenance and higher yield or Low maintenance and a string of other issues associated with it. The birds vary in their practices. With backyard farming, the traditional birds act and behave differently to commercial varieties. The advantages of better health of the birds and higher price for the product itself is good but they do have their drawbacks. Let’s look at some of the limitations when it comes to backyard poultry farming.

  1. Slow Growth: when Commercial birds reach full maturity in 6 weeks and are ready for meat production, the backyard poultry birds are usually in full maturity by 4 months. To achieve full weight it may take up to 40 weeks for some variety of birds. The slow growth means more time for the farmer without revenue. This is the same for egg production too. Commercial varieties will start laying eggs in as little as 18 weeks while egg production in native varieties takes a long time, usually around 6 months. 
  2. Low body weight: While the commercial variety of birds is fed and caged with no exercises, they gain rapid weight and achieve production weight by the end of 6th week. It is usual for commercial poultry farmers to sell out birds by the end of 8’th week and gain the target weight in birds. With Backyard poultry farming, the birds scavenge for food and are rarely supplemented by external sources. Though they feed with external feed, the weight of the birds will increase relatively slowly with birds being free and getting more exercise. Though the birds in backyard poultry are healthier and more muscular, they do not achieve the weight potential of commercial birds in their natural habitat.
  3. Late sexual maturity: While most Commercial varieties of egg-laying birds start laying eggs in 18 weeks, the Desi variety or the native ones will begin producing eggs only in 6 months. This has to do with the sexual maturity of the birds themselves. The birds reach sexual maturity very late compared to commercial breeds. Commercial breeds are also induced to lay more eggs faster than native varieties artificially. 
  4. Lower egg production: Most native varieties will produce an average of 70 eggs annually. While some may only produce 50-60 there may be others that may go a bit higher at 70-80 eggs per year. In commercial varieties, it’s not uncommon to see birds laying an average of 200 eggs a year and up to 250 in some varieties if cared for. this is 3-4 times more than the native varieties. With lower egg production, there is always a lower income through eggs. 
  5. Smaller eggs: Besides lower egg production, the eggs are small too. Most native variety eggs are at least 20% smaller in size compared to commercial varieties. Fortunately, egg prices are always higher than commercial varieties and fetch a bit more. The fact that these eggs are rich in nutrition when compared to the commercial varieties also plays a more significant role in people’s minds when they purchase native-variety eggs.
  6. Prolonged broodiness: one of the major drawbacks of native birds is broodiness. While broodiness is a good trait in birds especially when you expect the birds to hatch their own eggs, it may be a problem when the broodiness is prolonged and the egg-laying cycle is delayed. Also, birds with broodiness tend to eat little and lose more weight, thus not recommended for meat production. Broodiness in native birds can go up to 2 months in some cases.