Perspective of a Bhutanese backyard poultry rearer
Chokey is a housewife who lives with her husband and two children in village Dumithang. Her husband works as an attendant in the Government sheep breeding farm. They live in a 2 room quarter allotted to them by the department. The house is built with wooden logs and cement, with colourful traditional motifs painted all over.
Chokey’s neighbour had a flock of poultry and that motivated her to start her own poultry unit. Four years ago she bought a local hen from a farm close by and saw the advantage of poultry keeping when the hen began laying eggs. She decided to buy one more hen for Rs.150/- from a nearby Public Works Department (PWD) camp. These two hens brooded and today her flock consists of 15 hens and 1 cockerel. These birds are housed in a small shed made out of locally available wood, wire mesh, and broken pieces of asbestos sheet are used for the roof. The shed is at some distance (30 feet) away from their house. Since they live on the Sheep breeding farm campus that has a boundary wall around it, predation is not a problem.
Chokey has kept poultry to supplement nutrition of her children. Her hens lay 11-12 eggs in a clutch and have 3-4 clutches in a year. These eggs are mostly consumed at home and when sold, they sell at Rs.10/- per egg. Chokey consumes chicken, meat, pork and beef but she neither consumes her own chicken nor sells her birds. She is a religious person and refuses to sell her chicken for fear of them being slaughtered for consumption by people who would purchase her poultry birds.
Chokey’s flock has never been vaccinated nor have they suffered from any disease outbreak. She avoids all kinds of treatment, allopathic or traditional even when her birds fall ill occasionally. If they die, it does not matter since she considers life and death part of the ‘circle of life’. In a way it is a relief to her because she cannot get rid of birds until they die a natural death. Increasing the flock is not an option since feeding them is a problem. They are left to scavenge only on her small agriculture plot when it is lying fallow. She has to feed ½-1 kg rice to her flock when they are stall fed. In spite of all these problems, she will continue to keep her flock since they provide nutrition to her young children.
Her parting words were – “I will rear poultry till the last day of my life!”
Contributed by - Coordination Team