First, we needed to genetically develop a village specific poultry bird to deliver significant gain in productive performance in hostile, resource- poor villages in foraging living conditions. Exactly like the traditional birds did. Two, we needed to devise a system to minimize early chick mortality rate by providing a modicum of immunization. Three, we needed to create a cost effective delivery system of reaching not baby chicks but grown up chicks at the householder’s doorstep. We took on this challenge and genetically produced a village specific bird. We branded it KUROILER. It was capable of expressing its performance in hostile, resource-poor, foraging living environment in villages. It could produce 150 eggs as compared to 40 that the so called desi bird did. In comparison with the desi bird weighing 1kg, the female KUROILER could go to about 2.5kg and more and the male could go up to 3.5kg and more in the same environment, being fed the same village-waste. So here was potentially a big bird which could get far more remunerative than the non-descript traditional versions.
We activated the concept of Mother Units. We sent baby chicks to the nurseries, which were near the markets, to be raised for two to three weeks. To check field mortality rates as they grew, they would also be immunized during this period. So, on the one hand we developed a chicken and on the other we had this Mother Unit to whom we supplied chicks. Thereafter we activated an age-old practice of reaching the villages –village vending. Village vendors are people from the villages who move on bicycles and after purchasing 2-3 week old Kuroiler ¬chicks from the Mother Units; they go vending them from home to home. It is important to point out here that we sell everything; nothing is distributed free. We sell to the dealers who help us sell these chicks to Mother Units. Mother units grow them to 2-3 weeks and then sell them to the vendors. The vendors sell them to the household and the household sells eggs and chicken in the rural market. While it might sound simple, it had never been done before.
This system effectively enables the gains of modern science and technology, which is the chick we produce to go through this system right down to benefit the rural market. Therefore, to the bottom of the pyramid.
The next obvious question was about the sustainability of this chain. We do not employ the dealer; the dealer does not employ the mother unit; the mother unit does not employ the vendor; the vendor does not employ the household. They come together since they find it mutually beneficial. This voluntary, but mutually beneficial, association among all the members of the delivery chain is what we have successfully arrived at!
Keggfarms is the only organization, anywhere in the world, that successfully addresses the rural poultry market in significant numbers on a commercially sustainable basis.
What is the basic difference between industrial poultry and the village poultry farming scenario? One can clearly see the difference between a traditional chicken and modern genetic mechanism called an egg layer or a broiler. Industrial chicken is a genetic mechanism that yields highest quantity of eggs or meat at the best-feed conversion ratio in the least possible time. It is a scientific product to deliver economic results in a very efficient manner. In the villages, chicken is a natural bio-converter of no-cost household, agricultural and natural waste into eggs and meat. One is just using the natural genetic ability of a bird to bio -convert natural waste into food for itself. The birds do not need specific feed, they bio-convert whatever they have, not necessarily at the same efficiency but they bio-convert successfully enough.
In the industrial poultry context, profit is arrived at after reducing all input cost - cost of feeds, medicine, labor, power etc. from the total sales proceeds. In the village poultry context, total sales proceeds tantamount to profit since there are no input costs. Industrial poultry has two different kinds of birds -one for meat and one for eggs. The egg producing birds are small and the meat producing birds are big. So you have two specialized varieties. In the villages, it is the same breed which is used to both lays eggs and consumed as meat. While industrial poultry farms provide full time jobs, village poultry farming is only an incidental household activity, like any other, among the women and yields supplementary income in their hands. Finally, industrial poultry requires proximity to big markets: Bombay, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Calcutta to be able to sell. Since production in the village poultry farming context is limited everything is consumed locally. So industrial poultry and village backyard poultry are completely different from one another.
Backyard Poultry is a women centric activity and the men are not involved. Secondly, poultry keeping is limited to mostly economically depressed minorities, landless labor, tribals and certain other distinct communities in vast parts of the country. Thirdly, there is a strong preference for a multicolored bird. Additionally incidence of mortality was prevalent only when the chicks were small. Finally, and most importantly, chickens in the villages are not fed; they survive on foraging, agriculture, kitchen-waste and supplementary feed. There were no real inputs; there was no special feed. This is how village poultry was normally being practiced.
The more Keggfarms looked at village backyard poultry, the more exciting and challenging they found it. Initially they thought of it as a business opportunity but with so many possibilities and social perspectives, they were motivated into thinking of the challenge as much more meaningful.
Mr Vipin Malhotra is the Chief Executive Officer at Keggfarms Pvt. Ltd. which is one of the oldest poultry breeding organizations of India established in 1967. It is best known for pioneering genetic breeding of poultry stocks in India and is dedicated towards the development of rural specific poultry stock branded 'Kuroiler'.
Kuroiler - A Backyard Poultry Model