Srinagar: Hisham Wani from Sanat Nagar had brought a dozen day-old chicks to beat lockdown blues last year. Within months, the chicks grew into over 2-3 kgs hens and started laying eggs.
The hobby turned into a passion during the second phase of lockdown this year when Wani got more chicks and now has over two dozen birds in his backyard farm. Like Wani, several locals have taken up backyard chicken farming as a hobby during the lockdown.
And they have now decided to stick to the hobby even after the easing of the lockdown as chicken farming is not just keeping them busy but also dishing out a regular supply of eggs and white meat.
“I had heard from elders that almost all houses in Srinagar in the yesteryears would keep chickens at home. However, till last year none of my friends or relatives who mostly live in uptown areas had hens at home. But, last year during the Covid lockdown, I came to know that lots of friends and relatives had started keeping chicken at home. Later, I also got over a dozen chicks and ever since I am hooked,” Wani told The Kashmir Monitor.
“Not only does it keep me and children in the house busy and entertained, we hardly buy eggs and chicken anymore from the market. The taste of organic brown eggs and chickens reared at home is great and it is very nutritious. My backyard farm is here to stay now,” he added.
Livestock Advisor and In-charge e-governance Animal Husbandry Department Kashmir Dr. Anjum Andrabi said they were witnessing a huge increase in demand for chicks.
”There are huge queues outside at (Poultry Project) Hari Parbat on Thursdays for freshly hatched chicks and the demand has greatly increased over years. People usually collect varieties like Kalinga brown, Vanraja, Kashmir Commercial Layer, etc. Not only the people engaged in the sale of poultry take chicks, but locals from all walks of life have started chicken farming for domestic use,” Andrabi told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said ‘misgivings’ about the broiler chicken sold in the markets too was a reason why several locals had started chicken farming at home.
“There is a misgiving among people about eating broilers. On top of that, a lot of misinformation is spread against eating broilers. As far as chicks hatched at Hari Parbat are concerned, these can grow to over three kilograms within five months and also start laying eggs. It also tastes better than the broilers and as a result, lots of people have started chicken farming at home,” he said.
Andrabi said the Animal Husbandry Department also had schemes for youth wishing to start entrepreneurial ventures.
“Our department has launched an Android App (AHD Digital Extension) on Google Playstore that provides information on its programmes and activities so that not only the farm owners but the unemployed youth wishing to start entrepreneurial ventures get benefitted,” he said.