- Less expense on fodder through grazing method
- No problem in selling
- Additional profit if sold as flesh or meat
- Separate income through eggs
No expenses if sold as one-day chicks
Most of the farmers are suffering due to agriculture loss imposed by unstable pricing and, increasing cultivation expenses on the one hand and loss due to natural disasters like cyclone, flood and drought on the other hand. The best solution for those farmers could be rearing of animals such as goats, cows, pigs etc. But most economic venture, with low investment and high returns in short duration is rearing of country hens. That’s why many have been opting for the business. Joysa Mercy from Dindigul district is one among those earning higher profits by rearing country hens.
Five kilometers on Dindigul-Vathlagundu road, another road branches to Pithalaipatti on the right. Four kilometers from there lies Anumantharayankottai. Next to it is Melapatti village, where Joysa Mercy is having her country hen farm.
From nursing profession to hen farming
We met her in her farm while she was feeding the hens with a specific sound inviting them ‘bha, bha… bhuk, bhuk’.
“This is my native village. After marriage I moved to Koolampatti village. My father is a farmer and my husband is working in Saudi Arab. After completing my nursing course I joined a private nursing home, working as a nurse. We have two kids. As I was working and my husband being in Saudi we could not bring up the children properly. So, I requested the nursing home to schedule me day shift, avoiding night duties. But they declined my request. I was forced to discontinue my professional job as I could not get one with only day duties. Having decided to manage only with my husband’s income I moved to my father’s home with my kids.
Beginning with two
At that time, rose farming was happening in 3 acres of our land. With a desire to rear hens I bought a cock and a hen in 2013. I invested INR 550 on procuring them. I did not have any clue how to rear them. I left them in the open allowing them to graze freely. With that two there were many produced in a span of one year. Many directly visited my farm to buy eggs and live ones. That was when I decisively got into this business”, Joysa Mercy continued her story.
Lesson from loss
“I grew happy as the hens keep multiplying in the farm. As their numbers ascended I made a diamond fence around three acres of land to contain them within the farm. At that time, due to the drought we could not save the rose plants in our farm. Therefore we cleared the garden and made the entire land only to rear hens. As there is adequate opportunity in the local market, I periodically keep selling hens and cocks from the farm. But unfortunately, there was a disease attack that killed 113 hens in the farm. I was completely broken.
When I approached some of the villagers I was instructed to go for vaccination of the chickens. Immediately I vaccinated the existing population and saved them. In 2014, I attended the distant education course on rearing of country hens organized by the Tamil Nadu Veterinary University. I learnt significantly from the course. I could involve in the business properly only after having attended the course successfully.
Suggestions from doctors
I met Dr Beer Mohammed at the training centre of Tamil Nadu Veterinary University situated within the premises of Collector Office, Dindigul. He visited my farm in person and provided advice in regard to hen rearing. After his retirement, Dr Sivaseelan continues to provide advice till now. Those who attend the training programs are made to visit my farm for on-farm training.
Right now, I have 80 hens and 8 cocks, after having sold the others. Besides, there are 100 chickens and additional 90 born today (18.05.2016). All these are the generations from the two that I originally bought at the beginning. The cock that I used at the beginning is not here now as we need to change the cock often, for breeding. But the hen is still there with me. Recently I bought ten more hens. There is a cock variety, named Kataknath.
At the beginning, I kept the hens naturally incubate the eggs for hatching. But this natural method is long and delayed. Therefore, I bought an incubator a year ago”. She started describing about the methods of maintaining the farm.
I used to rear the hens through grazing method. I did not build a separate shed for them. At present there is only a cage and a small shade roof. Chicklings could not tolerate extreme weather conditions. Therefore, there is an exclusive brooder room for them. Incubator is kept in one of the rooms in my home. All the adults will roost in the tree branches and the shed planks and keep the eggs in the roof shed. They go out for grazing on their own, in the morning. We can witness their natural growth only when they are allowed to graze freely. That is why their meat is tastier. That is why people throng to the farm to buy them.
There are plates with water spread over the grazing land. Lesser amount of maize and sorghum will be given during morning and evening. Every day 50 gram of fodder is given for each hen. Vegetable wastes, green leaves, grass etc are provided to them. They eat the worms, insects, white ants found in the farm naturally. Therefore I am not spending much on fodder. They develop resistance to diseases due to natural way of growing.
I collect the eggs daily and keep them safe. It will require 21 days for the eggs to hatch out using incubator. As soon as the hatchlings come out I will clean the incubator for the next batch of hatching. Hatching rate will be higher only when newly hatched eggs are immediately incubated. Therefore I pace them in such a way that I keep new eggs for hatching and sell other eggs at once.
After hatching, the hens will tend to sit for incubating. I gather those hens in a cage and allow them to be with cocks. They will soon tend to cohabit with the cocks and become pregnant. Thereby I keep getting the eggs continuously.
The hatched chicklings will be provided with palm jaggery water and kept in the brooder room. The room is provided with electric bulbs to generate heat and warmth for the hatchlings to grow. On day 3, 4 and 5, antibiotics will be given to them through drinking water. On day 7 and 21, they will be vaccinated against white diarrohoea. On day 35, they are vaccinated against pox virus, deworming on day 55, and vaccination against white diarrohoea on day 65, a booster. Besides, I will vaccinate them as and when there is change in the season. I provide dense fodder available in the market for hatchlings for the first fifteen days. Then they will be allowed to graze freely”. She described about the income as given below.
Monthly income of Joysa Mercy
by rearing country hens
INR 10/1 egg
For 200 eggs = 2000
One day old chick
INR 40, for 300 = 12,000
One month old chicken INR 100
For 100 chickens = 10,000
One kg of meat 280
For 60 kg = 16,800
One kg of live hen 240
For 120 kg = 28,800
Net profit 69,600
750 eggs per month
Currently, on an average we get 25 eggs per day. On an average I get 750 eggs per month. Out of that I keep 500 eggs in the incubator. Keeping a portion of it for household use I sell out the balance for INR 10. By selling 200 eggs per month I gain rupees 2000.
Of the 500 eggs incubated I could get 450 chicks, leaving out the losses during incubation. I would sell 300 chicklings, on day one, for 40 rupees. By that sale I will earn rupees 12,000.
The remaining chicks will be allowed to grow. Out of them 100 chicks will be sold in a month’s time for rupees 100. By that sale I will get rupees 10,000.
Besides, on weekly basis I will sell 30 kg of live weight chicken. By that sale of 120 kg chicken for rupees 240, I will gain rupees 28,800.
For the past five months I have been selling the meat locally. I keep selling 15 kg chicken on a weekly basis, rupees 280 per kg. So, I get rupees 16,800 per month.
Considering the total sales from chickens, I gain a profit of rupees 69,600 per month. Deducting all expenses I earn rupees 45,000 – 50,000 every month”, thus said Joysa Mercy with contentment.
Rupees 5 lakhs annually
I did not involve laborers in my farm. I take care of all activities of the farm. As I am busy with meat shop and incubation processes I have invited my younger brother Antonyraj from Quatar. He is helping me in all my farm activities. Though I yearn to increase the number of parent hens, those who visit the farm to buy hens compel me to sell all of them. Only recently I stopped selling them.
In my experience, keeping 100 hens and 15 cocks will surely fetch rupees 5 lakhs annually. I have crossed that limit too. If the hens are reared properly there is sure of high returns.
Next I am planning to keep 400 mother hens for breeding under the proposed new shed. From 400 mother hens I am to profit rupees 20 lakhs annually,” she concluded with glittering confidence in her eyes.
We can prepare dense fodder ourselves!
Though country hens can be reared through free grazing, providing them with dense fodder will increase their weight quickly. We need not go out in search of that fodder. We can make it on our own. The details of preparing dense fodder as described by Dr Beer Mohammed are given below.
Preparing 100 kg fodder for hatchlings
Corn : 30 kg
Sorghum : 10 kg
Coarse rice : 20 kg
Groundnut oil cake : 10 kg
Sunflower oil cake : 5 kg
Dry fish powder : 8 kg
Rice husk : 17 kg
Preparing 100 kg fodder for growing hens
Corn : 30 kg
Sorghum : 15 kg
Coarse rice : 15 kg
Groundnut oil cake : 10 kg
Sunflower oil cake : 5 kg
Dry fish powder : 5 kg
Rice husk : 20 kg
Good income from rearing country hen
We enquired about details of rearing country hens to Dr Beer Mohammed, former Professor, Dindigul Veterinary University.
“Currently, country hen rearing is a high return business. Rearing them under a small shed but allowing them freely graze fetches high price. The best practice to start with is to bring in fertile hens at the age of hatching eggs.
It should be ensured that they get clean drinking water all the time. Small mud bowls with water can be kept in different places of the grazing land. During summer, they should be provided with protein rich grains and vegetable wastes. They should be vaccinated from the stage of hatchlings to adult chickens. Those details can be had from veterinary clinics, free of cost. Every Saturday, Government veterinary clinics will give vaccines for chickens free of cost. Only when they are vaccinated in a timely manner they can be protected from white diarrhoea and other infectious diseases. At present, coarse tablets are available to cure white diarrhoea at Tamil Nadu Veterinary University clinics.
Money from strong cocks
Even now there is a practice of rearing strong cocks in the rural areas for their appearance and valor. They can be sold for rupees 2000 – 8000 depending on their crown and colour.
More income can be generated if those kinds of cocks are reared with extra care and fodder. Joysa Mercy has been keeping a Sankagiri variety that can be sold for about rupees 7000.
(This article originally written in Tamil by G Prabhu for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)