Troubled by the high costs of the hatcheries while rearing chicks in their farms, farmers in Uttar Pradesh’s Malihabad have started using old, out of use refrigerators as hatcheries. The idea worked and the results have been promising.
Trained by the experts from the Central Avian Research Institute, the farmers bought old refrigerators from the scrap market at Rs 1,000-1,500 and converted them into hatcheries. (Photo: Divendra Singh)
Poultry farmers in Malihabad district of Uttar Pradesh can often be spotted at the local scrap market looking for out-of-use discarded refrigerators. Why?
To convert them into hatcheries.
Yes, poultry farmers in Malihabad have found an ingenious way of cutting down their cost of rearing chicks and earning profits by refurbishing old refrigerators as hatcheries. And they have been trained to do so by experts from Bareilly-based Central Avian Research Institute of India under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.
It all started two years ago, in 2019, when farmers in Malihabad were first provided chicks under the ‘Farmer FIRST’ scheme (Farm, Innovations, Resources, Science and Technology) to help raise their incomes.
“In a bid to increase the farmers’ income in the area, the Farmers FIRST scheme was implemented and more than 100 farmers were provided with chicks free of cost,” Maneesh Mishra, a scientist with the Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture, Lucknow, told Gaon Connection
But what stood in the way of the farmers were the costly hatcheries they found hard to afford.
It costs at least Rs 10,000 to set up a hatchery and many farmers did not have that much money to invest. The problem was solved when farmers developed a low-cost hatchery set up using old refrigerators.
Trained by the experts from the Central Avian Research Institute, the farmers bought old refrigerators from the scrap market at Rs 1,000-1,500 and converted them into hatcheries.
Explaining this DIY refrigerator-to-hatchery process, Om Prakash, a local farmer told Gaon Connection: “It costs around Rs 3,000-3,500 to convert an old refrigerator into a hatchery. In the set up, we use different types of light bulbs so as to incubate the eggs at the ideal temperature. It takes 20-25 days for the eggs to hatch in this hatchery.”.
Malihabad — situated on the outskirts of the Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow provides ideal conditions for poultry production. The area is synonymous with mango orchards that are known for their quality world over.
The farmers here rear country chicken which is sold at a much higher price than the regular poultry chicken — Rs 500-600 per kilogramme as contrasted with Rs 150-200 of a broiler chicken for the same weight.
Malihabad has vast mango orchards so we provided varieties of chickens that live on such orchards… Kadaknath, Carrie Devendra, Nirbheek, and Shyama varieties of chicks were distributed,” said Mishra.
These orchards have fertile conditions such as vegetation and worms that enable the local farmers to rear poultry and the cost of feeding the livestock decreases significantly due to the aiding conditions of the orchards.
The country chicken feeds on worms, seeds, grains and vegetables which are easily found in these mango orchards.
Farmers sell the hatched chicks for prices as follows: Rs 85 for five to six day old chick, Rs 100 for 15-20 days old chick, and Rs 200 for a two months old chick. Buyers from not only nearby Lucknow but from far off cities visit these farms to buy chicks as a wholesale business.
“Earlier, a farmer owning around half a hectare of orchard would earn around Rs 70,000 in a year by selling mangoes. After the introduction of poultry farming they easily earn twice that amount and sometimes exceed it,” Mishra said.
The Farmer FIRST Programme (FFP) is an initiative launched by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 2016 to supplement farmers’ incomes by means like animal husbandry.
The purpose of the initiative as per ICAR is to ‘move beyond the production and productivity, to privilege the smallholder agriculture and complex, diverse and risk prone realities of majority of the farmers through enhancing farmers-scientists interface’.