Backyard or homestead poultry farming is common among rural and landless families in India and is a lucrative source of supplementary income. It involves low investment and yields high economic returns, and can be easily managed by women, children and the elderly. Meat and eggs from such birds are inexpensive and rich source of protein and energy for poor households.
Backyard poultry farming is characterized by an indigenous night shelter system, scavenging, natural hatching of chicks, and low productivity of birds, scant supplementary feed, local marketing and minimal health care practices. The organized or commercial poultry sector in India contributes nearly 75% of the total meat and egg output while the unorganized sector contributes 25%. According to the 20th Livestock Census reports of the Government of India, total poultry population is 851.81 million (including backyard poultry population of 317.07 million), which is a 45.8% rise over previous livestock censuses
Most of the backyard poultry production comprises rearing of indigenous birds with poor production performances. The potentiality of indigenous birds in terms of egg production is only 70 to 80 eggs per bird per year and meat production is also very less. However, the backyard poultry production can be easily boost up with improved varieties of chicken and can promise a better production of meat and egg. To improve the socio-economic status of the traditional farmers, backyard poultry is a handy enterprise with low-cost initial investment, but high economic return along with guarantee for improving protein deficiency among the poor.
Advantages of backyard poultry farming
- Low initial investment but higher economic return.
- A unit can be started with as low as two chickens to a large flock.
- Left over kitchen and agricultural by-products are used for housing and feeding the birds.
- Eggs and chickens can be sold in local market.
- Backyard poultry farming acts as an ‘ATM’, because as per family need the birds and eggs can be sold at anytime anywhere with cash in hand.
- Unemployed women are involved in backyard farming system.
- Boost up in family income for better utilization of family labors who are not able to perform other agricultural works like old family member or children.
- Quality of chicken and egg is better in terms of organic farming as the birds are raised in stress less environment with natural input.
Limitations of indigenous backyard poultry
- Slow growth
- Low body weight
- Late sexual maturity
- Low clutch size, thus low egg production
- Low egg size
- Prolonged broodiness
Improved strains of poultry birds for backyard farming
Desi or indigenous birds are generally poor performers in egg and meat production. To obtain maximum profit from backyard poultry farming there is a urgent need in the country to improve the status of backyard poultry farming with improved strain of poultry birds, who performs an excellent result when raised in backyard with low inputs. Improved chicken that can be introduced in backyard poultry farming should have following characters:
- Adaptability in village condition
- Self propagation
- Good brooding capacity
- Mothering ability
- Well body conformation
- Good scavengers
- Attractive and colored plumage
- Escaping capacity from predators
- Disease resistance
Considering the above characteristics, the varieties recommended for backyard poultry farming are- Gramapriya, Vanaraja, Giriraja, Girirani and Krishna, etc. The annual egg production capacity of Gramapriya and Vanaraja birds are 200 to 220 and 200 to 230 egg/ bird/ year, respectively. First egg lays at 200 to 230 days depending on plane of nutrition and other managemental parameters. Egg weight varies from 55 to 60 gram. Mature body weight is around 2.5 to 3.5 kg.
Housing management for backyard poultry farming
Backyard poultry does not need elaborate housing, however, it should protect the birds from sun, rain and predators. If free range system is practiced the birds are let loose in day time for foraging and at night sheltered in shed. The poultry house should be in east-west orientation to protect from summer wind and cold stress and also for direct sunlight in winter months.
Some of the criteria that can be considered are
- During summer direct sun light should be avoided to reduce the summer stress in birds.
- Low cost housing material like wood, bamboo, grass, thatch etc. can be utilized.
- The poultry house should be free from water seepage or moisture.
- Floor should be in elevated land or above ground level (minimum 2ft) and free from water crack, easily cleaned, rat proof and durable.
- There should be free air movement in upper part of the shed to reduce gas formation inside the shed.
- Height of the side wall in poultry house is generally 7 ft to 8 ft. The centre height is 9 ft to 12 ft with slope in either side.
- Roofing material like thatch, tiles, asbestos etc. can be used.
- Brooder house should have easy ventilation and wire netting which is used for open air ventilation.
- Provision of bulb fitted above the ground as hoover may be utilized to keep the chicks worm.
Brooding of Chicks
There are two types of brooding viz. Natural brooding and Artificial brooding that can be adopted for backyard poultry farming.
Here the local broody hens are used as the indigenous hens are good sitters. Fertile eggs are needed for incubation. The hens are provided with nesting materials. Normally 12 to 15 eggs are used for single hen. After hatching there should be separate place in the shed for young chick and mother at night.
Here the brooding is done by artificial heat. Artificial heat can be provided with electricity, gas, kerosene, woods, sawdust etc. The optimum temperature is 95 F/35 C. One watt per chick heat is required in brooder house. Proper lighting system should be there to increase the feed consumption for maximum growth in short period of time. The height of chick guard is 15 to 18 inch is placed in circular shape at a distance of 3 feet away from the hover.
The feed cost alone is 70% of total expenditure in poultry production. In backyard poultry farming the feed cost is considered to be minimum. Hence, the birds are let loose for scavenging in the open yard and collect the required protein, energy, minerals and vitamins etc. from insects, snail, termites, seeds of grasses and weeds, leftover grains, crop residues and household wastes. Feed ingredients like broken rice, ground nut straw, wheat or job’s tear grain, rice bean etc. also can be given to the birds. During rainy season poultry feed should not be stored more than 1.5 months to avoid fungus growth (Aflatoxicosis).
In backyard poultry farming generally two times feeding is practiced; once at morning and another at evening. The space requirement for feeder is 2 to 7 cm at brooding period, 7 to 10 cm during growing stage and 12 to 15 cm / bird at laying stage. The water space should be 0.5 to 1.5 cm during brooding, 1.5 to 2.5 during growing and 2.5 cm during laying period. The birds may be supplied with extra concentrate ration @ 30 to 60 gm/ day/ bird for better performance. The balanced ration may be formulated with appropriate percentage of maize, rice polish, wheat bran, ground nut cake, fish meal, shell grit or lime stone along with salt, minerals and vitamins or may be with locally available ingredients. The poultry feed should contain at least 20% protein in starter level, 16% in grower and 18% in laying stage with energy level (ME) 2800 kcal/kg feed in starter, 2600 kcal/kg at grower and 2650 kcal/kg in layer ration.
Health care management
For better health care in backyard poultry farming the birds should be vaccinated against viral diseases in time. The diseases that mostly effect the birds are Ranikhet disease, Marek’s Disease, Fowl pox, Gumboro disease, etc. Regular vaccination schedule may be followed in a poultry farm (Table 1). Deworming for internal and external parasites also should be done to maintain a healthy flock. Other diseases that may affect the poultry birds are Coccidiosis, infectious coryza, Salmonellosis, etc.
Table 1: Vaccination schedule for poultry birds
|Sl. No.||Age of birds||Name of Vaccine||Name of Disease||Doses||Route of Vaccination|
|1||Day old Chicks||HVT MD Vaccine||Marek’s Disease||0.2 ml||S/c or I/m|
|2||4 to 7 days||F-1/ Lasota||Ranikhet Disease||One drop||Eye or nostril|
|3||14 to 18 days||Intermediate plus||Gumboro disease||–||Drinking water|
|4||35 days||F-1/ Lasota||Ranikhet Disease||One drop||Eye and nostril|
|5||6 to 7 weeks||Chicken embryo adopted||Fowl Pox||0.5 ml||Wing stab method|
|6||8 to 10 weeks||Strain killed vaccine||Ranikhet Disease||0.5 ml||S/c or I/m|
Finger tips suggestion for backyard poultry farming
- Healthy disease free, improved strain, dual purpose poultry birds may be procured for back yard poultry farming.
- Periodical vaccination should be done on regular basis.
- Clean drinking water and fungus free feed should be supplied to the birds.
- The poultry shed should be regularly cleaned and free from moisture and humid condition.
- Overcrowding should be avoided.
- If possible there should be separate space for different age group of birds.
- Sick bird should be immediately separated/ culled from healthy flock.
- Poultry equipments particularly waterer and feeder should be regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- There should be restriction for outsider into the poultry shed or farm.
- The birds should be free from predators and should not be scared by other animals.
- Before procuring new flocks the shed should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
- There should be provision for footbath in front of poultry shed.
- During summer and winter months the shed should be protected from hot or cold wind by hanging curtain around the side of the wall or shed. In summer months water sprinkling also can be done.
Information sources for scientific backyard poultry
Several research institutions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), State Agricultural and Veterinary Universities (https://www.icar.org.in/) and associated Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), are involved in developing and promoting indigenous and improved poultry breeds suitable for backyard rearing apart from delivering scientific information on poultry farming. The Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services of state governments are also involved in such activities. Private industries, Farmer Producer Organizations, Non-Government Organizations, Self Help Groups and Farmers’ Associations to promote backyard poultry. Farmers can readily procure pullets from these organizations or procure fertile eggs of native breeds to hatch to make their own stock. The following organizations (not an exhaustive list) involved in developing and promoting indigenous and improved poultry breeds can provide related information:
- ICAR-Central Avian Research Institute (CARI), Izatnagar, Uttar Pradesh
- Central Poultry Development Organization and Training Institute (CPDOTI), Hesaraghatta, Karnataka
- Central Poultry Development Organization (CPDO), Mumbai, Maharashtra
- Central Poultry Development Organization (CPDO), Chandigarh.
- Central Poultry Development Organization (CPDO), Bhubaneswar, Odisha
- All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on Poultry, Hyderabad, Telangana
- ICAR-Central Coastal Agricultural Research Institute, Goa
- ICAR-Directorate of Poultry Research (DPR), Hyderabad, Telangana
- ICAR-National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR), Karnal, Haryana
- Karnataka Veterinary Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (KVAFSU), Bidar, Karnataka
- Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS), Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Kasturi Pradhan1*, D. Suryam Dora2, Aseem Kumar Patra3, Satyendra Sahu4
1,3&4MVSc Scholar, Department of Livestock Production and Management, OUAT, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
2Subject Matter Specialist (Livestock Production and Management) Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kanker, Chhattisgarh
*Corresponding author- [email protected]
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