Old is gold

Traditional knowledge still aids poultry farmers of India

Published: Tuesday 31 August 2004

-- a recent research is yet another proof of the fact that traditional knowledge is of immense help in areas where science has failed to infiltrate. During the study, traditional poultry farming practices of Karnataka and Kerala were assessed. The findings show that the traditional procedures immensely benefit areas bereft of veterinary services. Moreover, traditional knowledge empowers farmers to manage their flock in a cost-effective manner.

In both the states, poultry farmers have been evolving several traditional practices through the trial and error method, keen observation and evaluation of the existing system. One of their key practices is moulding, which aims to improve the quality of the flock and precluding disease outbreaks by preventing egg production for a while. Moulding is often described as a 'physiological pause', whereby birds are given time and energy to rejuvenate. It is induced through the following means:

Catching the birds by their legs and dipping them in water for at least 10-15 times

Applying ash in the reverse direction of a bird's feathers for a few hours

Applying a thick layer of mud all over a bird's body for a few hours

Keeping a bird in a dark place for three to four weeks

Fixing a bird's feathers on to its back

Researchers from the angr Agricultural University of Andhra Pradesh assessed the effectiveness of these methods. They found all of them to be effective. The flock of farmers using these practices were as healthy as those of individuals who had access to the veterinary services. The practices even proved to be a cheaper option of maintaining a healthy flock rather than taking the advice of the vet. Moreover, the practices did not cause any stress to the birds. The researchers conclude by stating that traditional knowledge is useful, albeit with some regulation to ascertain safety. According to them, the practices should be well documented to benefit the future generations.

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