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Dual-purpose chicken for backyard rearing

M.J. Prabu

The hens attain quick growth and start laying eggs after 160 days M.J. Prabu

— PHOTO: KAU

QUICK GROWERS: Gramalakshmi birds are white in colour with black speckles throughout the body.

TWO NEW varieties of chicken, which can be used both for egg and meat, have been bred by researchers at the Poultry Science Division of the College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) Manutty.

Named Gramalakshmi and Gramasree, the two varieties have a high production potential along with better growth rate suited for mixed and backyard farming according to Dr. A. Jalaluddin, Director in-Charge, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, KAU.

Quick growth

The hens attain quick growth with a body weight of 1.4 kg in about five months and start laying eggs after 160 days.

The males attain a body weight of 1.5 kg in three months and are popular for their meat, which is low in fat content compared with present day broilers, said Dr. Jalaluddin.

Gramalakshmi birds are white in colour with black speckles throughout the body while Gramasree birds are dark brown with a sprinkling of black, and grey on different parts of the body. Both the varieties lay about 200 eggs each year with each egg weighing about 50 gms.

Thick eggshell

The eggshell is brown in colour and thicker than that of other commercial eggs and does not break easily. It can be stored for 8-10 days at room temperature. The eggs are priced at the rate of Rs.2.50 in the Kerala market, according to Dr. Jalaluddin.

The birds being hardy by nature, require little care and can be reared in the open. They can be fed on farm and kitchen waste. In addition, they have to be provided with a special protein feed to meet their high production requirement.

The feed can be prepared with maize, broken rice, coconut cake, and rice bran or a commercial layer feed available in the market, he said.

Economic ratio

Detailing the economics of backyard rearing, Dr. Jalaluddin said, "About 90 hens can be reared in one hectare from which 50-60 eggs can be obtained per day."

If farmers are interested in table egg production alone, then they need not rear cocks along with the hens. But if they want to grow these varieties for eggs and meat then it is advisable to keep birds in the ratio of one cock for 10 hens.

"These varieties are only layers and cannot hatch the eggs. For hatching purposes, local birds have to be used," he said.

Dr. Jalaluddin said, "The University sells one-day-old Gramalakshmi and Gramasree female chicks for Rs 12 and Rs.13 and male birds for Rs.1 and Rs 3 respectively. Birds immunised against Ranikhet disease are sold at Rs.50 per bird.

Immunised birds

"It is better for farmers to buy immunised birds, as they are immunised against most of the prevalent diseases and have to be dewormed at an interval of 1-2 months," he said.

On the feeding cost for 100 birds Dr. Jalaluddin explained, "For a unit of 100 birds, the feed requirement is 2.5 kg per day, which may cost about Rs.25. The unit produces around 50-60 eggs per day generating an income of Rs.125 to the farmers.

For more information, readers can contact the office of the Director-in-charge, College of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Kerala Agricultural University, Manutty, Thrissur, 680 651 phone: 0487-2370117, email: jalaludeen_a@yahoo.com

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