Polyculture of animal husbandry

For ages, farmers in India integrated agriculture with many interrelated activities like tree cropping, livestock production like cattle, sheep, goat, piggery, poultry, beekeeping, sericulture etc. for their sustainable productivity utilizing all the farm resources and natural resources for food, fuel, fiber fodder and green manure,.  However, they were cautious in using the resources by preserving and regenerating, without causing their exhaustion. It is only during the past 25 years, such small-scale, self-reliant systems have been replaced by specialized or industrial type of dairy, piggery and poultry farming, necessitating use of high cost external inputs.

Even today in our farm, we hatch our own chicks, at a cost of about Rs. 1.50 (including the cost of egg and labour), whereas, the commercial poultry farmers purchase a chick at around Rs. 13 to Rs. 20.  While the commercial poultry farmer spends around Rs. 40 on the feed and medication even on a broiler chicken with a huge risk and tension, we actually do not spend any money on the poultry feed and medication. Similarly, commercial dairy farmers purchase expensive crossbred cows at around Rs. 20,000 each and spend around Rs. 150 each day on their concentrates and medication apart from fodder, which is also procured from outside and not from his own farm.  Int our farm, we do have crossbred cows (below 60% character) born in our own farm or have bought locally heifers at Rs. 3,000 or below and feed them with 90% of our own fodder and concentrates with very little risk and cost.  Similarly we do with our goats or sheep.

Most of the farmers in India are small and marginal farmers cultivating under rain fed conditions. They having plenty of free time. The governments, both at the Centre as well as at the State, should encourage farmers to take up backyard dairy, sheep or goat rearing, piggery and poultry. They should provide technical knowledge and financial support, rather than promoting commercial or industrial, cost intensive, high external input dependent animal husbandry.  When the small farmers raise between 20 to 100 indigenous chicken they do not incur any expenses on them or their feed. They can easily realise Rs. 1500 to Rs. 7500 each year, even after meeting their family needs of eggs and meat.  The chicken can benefit the farm by fertilizing, weed and pest control,. However, they need to be  managed carefully, without damaging the crops when they are young or ready to harvest.  Cattle can be a source of plenty of manure and their dung and urine can be used even after obtaining cooking gas through gobar gas plant.

Some State governments are in the process of banning goat rearing, under the disguise that goats destroy vegetation.  Yes, goats do graze away almost every plant, only when they are let free for stray grazing. But, if they are stall fed, they can increase the income four times, as compared to sheep.  Therefore, it is important to ban stray goat grazing and not goat rearing. When the goat farmer finds it necessary for stall-feeding he would surely, grow more trees to feed his goats.  Thus, it is harmful in the interest of small farmers and the nation if hasty decisions are taken without understanding the ground realities and examining the available alternatives.

Without livestock rearing, the farm bye-products like hay, weeds, tree branches and unusable seeds would be wasted or burnt.  Many people may wonder or even feel nasty if they understand that even bye-products from meat and fish processing industries and shops are being fed to pigs and fish.  Again, small farmers are being cheated by butchers and middlemen who purchase from farms or weekly markets (shandy) on piece basis than by body weight.  So, it is necessary that animals be sold according to body weight at 65% to 70% value of processed meat

Farmers should always try to utilize the wild vegetation and fruits as animal feed, which otherwise are wasted.. It is not only the livestock which is traditionally being reared should be integrated in farming, but also some birds like Turkey, Quail, Pigeon and small animals like rabbit etc. These can be raised on a smaller scale, so as to utilize resources efficiently.  Small-scale aquaculture is another option for augmenting farm income. Aquaculture enhances the nutrient quality of the irrigation water of the storage pond.  Thus, animal husbandry has a significant role in improving farm productivity by the integrated use of resources.


L. Narayana Reddy


Via Maralena Halli

Hanabe P.O.

Doddaballapura Taluk – 561203

P : (C:080) 7651360

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