After the rains bid us good-bye it was time to get our bird population back on track. Keen observation on each & every bird, keeping our chicken house absolutely spot clean, giving a good diet, provisions for clean drinking water etc. etc. were the simple things to be given priority.
Its been about a year & a half since we made some tentative beginnings to have chickens in our farm, We had started with just three, by June 2013 the numbers had increased to 40 odd. We sold quite a few birds during that period, moreover we wanted to reduce the numbers during our Cherrapunji type rains. We were at 15 odd during the four months of rains. We somehow survived the rain onslaught without much damage. Now, many “aunties” are laying eggs & the numbers are slowly increasing. It’s not just the numbers, for us its the quality of the birds which is important.
Earlier they were basically on a diet of Bajra (Pearl Millet), now we also give Wheat (which is soaked overnight), Maize (boiled & pounded), both are mixed with a bit of Onion, Garlic, grated Coconut & Dried fish & depending on availability, we do give a lot of greens in the form of finely chopped fresh Methi (Fenugreek) & fresh Coriander. Very importantly we also add a spoon of Turmeric into their drinking water.
Recently while chatting with a friend (Keshav), he suggested that i take a visit to the Central Egg Hatchery, in Pune, which i did the very next day. However less said about it all the better. Here are a couple of articles which mentions of how it functions. One damning aspect which these articles do not mention is that these rogues are not short of funds, nor of birds…… but they pass on the birds on to private hatcheries & make a killing. Like many of these kind of government institutions they are never transparent to any queries. However i still picked a few birds. Lets see how it goes.
Anyway back to our farm……
Earlier we had lost quite a few birds to raptors (Crested Serpent Eagles, Black Shouldered Kites & Kestrels) and also to Crows. One of my co-workers always had to hang around near our chicken house to drive away these predators. The Crested Serpent Eagle had become so clever that it stopped hovering on top & started landing somewhere at a distance & slowly walks to our chicken house & then goes for the kill. Now due to an unexpected visitor, who has become our co-resident the scenario has changed dramatically & now we’ve a fantastic body-guard for our hens in the form of our Emu….. Ms Strider (the name fits her persona, thanks Kamal !!) Strider’s presence has made such an unexpected relief to us. Now no raptors dare to dive in to catch our hens. Sometimes crows do still try their luck, however our dogs take care of them.
Here are some pictures of our birds as of now.
Peace & love