New model of low-cost poultry farm
The well-grown chickens in bright colours sport a very different look at this poultry farm located at Thanakkankulam near Madurai. They wear imported, low-cost, opaque goggles, which play a significant role in keeping the farm clean and to a large extent disease-free. Incidentally, they also contribute to the fowls gaining in weight.
The Madurai farmer, Ponn Vairan, a retired Assistant Executive Engineer of erstwhile Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, has found answers for the common maladies of a poultry farm using self-acquired knowledge, application of native wisdom and easily available materials. His A.K.A. Pannai is a model low-cost poultry farm that promises not to leave the farmer in debt.
He has solutions for things that cause concern for a poultry farmer – smell, disease, weight of the fowl and, more importantly, profitability. Fundamentally, this is a cent per cent organic farm that rears only native breeds of chicken.
Outstanding among them is Kadaknath, one of the rarest poultry breeds of the country, known for its black meat and brown eggs. It is a hot seller and finds a pride of place in the urban menu. Its protein content is 25% against 13% to 25 % of other breeds. The fat content is 0.73% against 1.03% of other varieties. Kadaknath is also preferred for its medicinal properties, says Mr. Vairan.
The unique goggles resemble an ornament on the fowls. “They restrict their vision. The fowl can either look up or down. It cannot peck at other fellows due to the absence of straight vision and this prevents injuries in fights. As a result, they weigh about 1.5 kg each,” explains Mr. Vairan. He attributes the low cost of maintenance to the use of ordinary materials and feed grown at the farm itself. He uses five types of feed – panchakavya, azolla, hydroponic fodder, maize and effective micro organisms. The farm has evolved as a low-cost model mainly because of the feed. This enables reaping of the maximum benefits over a small area, says Pamayan, an expert in organic farming.
“I invested about Rs. 3 lakh on this farm, which will otherwise require Rs. 10 lakh. Anyone can earn a minimum of Rs. 20,000 a month from this type of farm,” Mr. Vairan says.
Explaining the efficacy of ethno veterinary practices, N. Punniamurthy, former Head, EVM Herbal Research Centre, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, says many traditional medicinal farmers are available around farmers to make them self-reliant.
At A.K.A. Pannai, application of micro organisms keeps it odour-free. “I need not spend huge amounts to treat chickens for any disease with medicines available in medical shops. I use more effective native herbs and plants to treat them within a short period,” says Mr. Vairan. He also uses two custom-made incubators for breeding.
The model evolved by Mr. Vairan can be applied anywhere. Many interested persons, especially youth, visit the farm to get trained in native practices.