The definition of backyard poultry is nicely described by Mandal et al. 2006. As defined by them it is a low input or no input business and is characterized by an indigenous night shelter system scavenging system with little supplementary feeding natural hatching of chicks, poor productivity of birds local marketing, and no health care practice. Backyard poultry production is an age-old practice in rural India. Most of the backyard poultry production comprises the rearing of indigenous birds with poor production performances.

The potentiality of indigenous birds in terms of egg production is only 70 to 80 eggs/ bird/ year and meat production is also very less. However, backyard poultry production can be easily boosted with improved varieties of chicken and can promise a better production of meat and egg.

To improve the socio-economic status of traditional farmers, backyard poultry is a handy enterprise with a low-cost initial investment, but a high economic return along with a guarantee for improving protein deficiency among the poor.

Backyard poultry in Indian Scenario

In the Indian scenario, the development in poultry production owes to various factors such as growth in income and urbanization, progress in processing technology, and improvements along the marketing chain. The OECD-FAO Agricultural report 2008-2017  has estimated that Indian demand for poultry products will be enhanced by 4.8 percent whereas the supply of poultry products will grow at 5.2 percent per year over the decade which is faster than any other type of animal product. According to the government of India reports eggs and broilers production has been reported to increase at a rate of 8-10% per annum but the growth has been mainly limited to commercial poultry and the contribution of backyard poultry is negligible. However, this growth in the poultry sector has not been able to contribute much to poverty reduction and improved nutrition in rural India. Pica-Ciamarra and Otte, 2008  revealed that statistically, a landless poor agricultural family unit keeps 1.2 non-descript low-yielding local birds in the backyard, which would sum up to an average flock size of 8 to 9 birds per poultry-keeping household. This type of backyard flock only makes a very negligible contribution to rural livelihoods, as the net income per bird per month ranges very low. But the low input requirements to backyard poultry farming a reason to attain an inexpensive and reasonable source of highly nutritious food items at low cost.

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Why go for backyard poultry farming?

  1. Low initial investment but higher economic return.
  2. A unit can be started with as low as two chickens to a large flock.
  3. Feed cost is negligible due to better utilization of agricultural by-products and leftover feed and grains.
  4. Eggs and birds can be sold in the local market at a high price because there is a growing demand for local chicken.
  5. And consumers are willing to pay higher prices for high-quality desi chicken meat or egg.
  6. Boost up in family income for better utilization of family laborers who are not able to perform other agricultural works like old family members or children.
  7. Backyard poultry farming acts as an ‘ATM’, because as per family needs the birds and eggs can be sold at any time anywhere with cash in hand.
  8. The quality of chicken and egg is better in terms of organic farming as the birds are raised in a stress-less environment with natural input.

Limitations of indigenous backyard poultry

  1. Slow growth
  2. Low body weight
  3. Late sexual maturity
  4. Low clutch size, thus low egg production
  5. Low egg size
  6. Prolonged broodiness

Improved strain 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 an urgent need in the country to improve the status of backyard poultry farming with an improved strain of poultry birds, which performs excellent results when raised in the backyard with low inputs. Improved chicken that can be introduced in backyard poultry farming should have the following characteristics-

  • Adaptability in village condition
  • Self-propagation
  • Good brooding capacity
  • Mothering ability
  • Well body conformation
  • Hardy in nature
  • Good scavengers
  • Attractive and colored plumage
  • Escaping capacity from predators
  • Disease resistance

Considering the above characteristics, the verities that can be recommended for backyard poultry farming are- Gramapriya, Vanaraja, Giriraja, Girirani, Krishna – J etc.

The annual egg production capacity of Gramapriya and Vanaraja birds is 200 to 220 and 200 to 230 eggs/per bird/per year, respectively.  The first egg lays at 200 to 230 days depending on the plane of nutrition and other managemental parameters. Egg weight varies from 55 to 60 grams. Mature body weight 2.5 to 3.5 kg.

Breeds and variety suitable for backyard poultry farming

Rural poultry farming using native breeds is being practiced in many developing and underdeveloped countries throughout the world. Desi or indigenous birds are generally poor performing in egg and meat production. In rural areas of India, chicken reared in backyards are mostly Desi type with low egg and meat production (Ghosh, et. al., 2005) and there is a need for the introduction of improved dual-purpose birds that have the capacity to lay more eggs and gain higher body weight than the local or Desi birds. To obtain maximum profit from backyard poultry farming there is a time demand to introduce the most suitable type of poultry breeds and variety in backyard farming, which can perform better at low inputs in natural conditions. Improved chicken that can be introduced in backyard poultry farming should have the following characteristics

  • Good scavengers
    • Hardy in nature
    • Self-propagating
    • Broody in nature
    • High mothering ability
    • High Disease resistance
    • Well body conformation
    • Coloured and attractive plumage
    • Flight & escaping capacity from predators
    • Better adaptability to local climatic conditions

Considering the above said characteristics of backyard-type poultry the following breeds or varieties may be recommended for backyard poultry farming

CARl Debendra – This is a medium-sized dual-purpose bird suitable for backyard poultry production. It was developed by crossing the colored synthetic broiler line as the male line and Rhode Island Red (RIR) as the female line at Central Avian Research Institute (CARI), Izatnagar, Uttar Pradesh. The bird achieves a moderate body weight of 1200 g at eight weeks of age with an economic feed conversion ratio of 2.5-2.6. The meat has lower carcass and abdominal fat than broiler meat, which makes it a consumer’s delight. It is a suitable bird for rural poultry because of its better survivability and moderate egg production ability. The annual egg production of CARI Debendra is 190-200 eggs..….click here to read the full news