Aseel Poultry Bird - Boon for a poor woman
Gonela Venkatalaxmi lives in village E. Ramavaram in Gangavaram Mandal of East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh. She is 25 year old and lives with her father and brother’s family. Her father owns 2 acres of land. She has been involved with backyard poultry rearing since her childhood when she lived with her grandmother. She recollects that a large number of birds used to die every year due to a contagious disease locally called “Pacchaparudu” which is Ranikhet or New Castle Disease.
She joined the village gotti (indigenous system of community interaction / a traditional forum where people meet to discuss local problems) and underwent training on good management practices, better feeding methods and also learnt the necessity to vaccinate the birds against fowl pox and Ranikhet.
Gonela took two hens from the gotti in the year 2005. Her entire flock had died in the previous year due to an outbreak of Ranikhet in her village. Thereafter, her family had to purchase chicken from the market whenever they needed a bird for consumption or for festivals. When she started rearing poultry again in year 2005 she was aware of the importance of vaccinations that she had learnt as part of her training. In addition to her flock, she got all the birds in the village vaccinated. She also started using herbal preparations as preventive measures to build the immunity of the birds. She has been feeding jowar and bajra cultivated by the family in their own land except for 3-4 months in summer when the grain gets exhausted. During these months she feeds the birds on bran purchased from the market. It costs Gonela Rs 10 per month to purchase the feed for the birds. She proudly shares that the mortality of the birds has reduced because of good management practices.
Though she started with rearing two hens, presently she rears an average of 60 birds per year. Each hen is giving eggs in three clutches at the rate of 15 eggs/ clutch, all of which are used for hatching. From the 15 eggs she gets 13 chicks of which an average of 10 chicks survive from each clutch.
Venkatalaxmi’s family consumes 20 birds in a year. She shares that “when we convert this consumption into cash it equals to approximately Rs. 3,500 a year”. She also earns an income of around Rs. 3,500 from the sale of 20 birds in a year. A cock fetches between Rs. 200 to 300 depending on the age and a hen fetches Rs. 80 – 100. She has also returned 5 birds back to the gotti within a year and has also given two birds on vaata (sharing system) to her neighbour.
At any time of the year she has altogether 20 birds of different ages. Now her family need not purchase birds from outside for their own consumption or for various festivals linked to their crops. Since birds are available at home, she is able to sell these whenever she is in need of money for health expenses or for purchasing groceries from the market. She feels very secure that she has a bank in her house in the form of birds that can be converted into cash whenever need arises. She also feels that the nutrition of the family is much better now. Earlier when she had to buy from the market and did not have enough cash they would not eat chicken meat for months together. Now they eat chicken meat atleast once a month and sometimes even more.
Contributed by - Anthra, Hyderabad