DR. ZUBAIR AHMAD WAR
Besides traditional Apple and Paddy, fruits such as Kiwi, exotic vegetables, Mushrooms and varieties of flowers and ornamental plants are being grown by farmers in Kashmir these days, in sync with the needs of market. Thereby earning sizeable profits.
In context of poultry, Broiler Chicken has attained immense popularity owing to its high and quick growth potential. Broiler chicken being comparatively affordable is popular among the households.
It is compulsory part of Kashmiri Wazwan, indispensable in restaurants as well as fast food outlets. Commercial broiler farming is being practiced in Kashmir on a large scale and some birds are also being imported from outside to meet out the high demand.
Broiler birds are being reared in a commercial setup under intensive system, need regular vaccinations and medications, elaborate housing, besides nutrient dense feed for quick weight gain. In contrast the Desi chicken are being reared in an extensive system with just night shelter, minimum medications and feeding. Similarly, poultry birds such as Turkey, Guinea Fowl, Ducks and Geese too can thrive in an extensive system. Supplemental feeding with provision of fencing and night shelter has to be ensured.
All these species are capable of thriving in Kashmir Valley conditions but haven’t received the desired popularity. Notably the culture of rearing waterfowl such as Geese and Ducks too has declined in villages. Poultry species other than Chicken such as Ducks, Geese, Turkey and Guinea Fowl offer a lucrative option to farmers having sufficient land particularly orchardists wherein the birds can be reared in the form of Integrated Farming System. On the other hand, Quails and Pigeons require less space and can be reared by landless persons.
Each poultry species has its peculiarity vis-a-vis morphology, habitat, feeding habits and productive traits. Waterfowl can be easily reared around waterbodies. The geese and ducks are excellent foragers and the latter relish worms, insects, snails etc.
Turkey meat is low in fat and cholesterol whereas meat of Guinea Fowl has a gamy flavour. Even within chicken, farmers can give Layer birds, improved varieties of Backyard chicken and special varieties of chicken such as Kadaknath (having medicinal properties) a try.
Pertinently the Department of Animal Husbandry has a scheme Integrated Poultry Development Program (IPDP) in vogue which offers 50% subsidy on establishment of free range poultry farms of Turkey, Guinea Fowl, Ducks and Geese with fencing and night shelter facility, 500 to 1000 bird capacity.
Interested eligible beneficiaries can take advantage of the IPDP scheme and rear these birds as per their suitability. Adoption of alternative poultry (Turkey, Guinea Fowl, Quails) and revival of traditional waterfowl (Ducks and Geese) by interested farmers is the need of the hour. There is scope for popularisation of these poultry birds for diversification of poultry and income augmentation of farmers.
Dr. Zubair Ahmad War has Masters in Livestock Production and Management (LPM).