The present study was conducted to determine the growth and productive performance of Vanaraja, a dual purpose bird developed for backyard poultry farming, under varied agro-climatic condition of Sikkim. A total of 1120 birds were given to 22 tribal farmers under Tribal Sub Plan of Poultry Seed Project in four districts with varying climatic condition and altitude. Chicks of Vanaraja were reared under intensive system with brooding up to 6th week of age. Body weights at day old, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24 weeks of age, age at first egg laying, total egg production, egg weights at 40 and 72 weeks of age and mortality (%) were recorded. Mean body weight in East Sikkim was significantly (0.05) higher than other districts from eighth week onward and this trend was continuous up to 24th week. Also, the body weight of birds in South Sikkim was significantly (P<0.05) higher than West and North Sikkim from 8th week and this trend was continued. The age at sexual maturity ranged from 165 to 189 days and average body weight at first egg lay was recorded from 2379.12±18.11 to 1734.34±17.45 g (Table 2). The age at sexual maturity was significantly (p<0.05) lesser in East and South Sikkim compared to North and West Sikkim. Egg weight at 40 weeks was recorded ranging from 50.78±0.26 to 55.05±0.56 g and at 72 weeks was from 60.12±0.24 to 67.25±0.92 g. Mortality during the present study varied from 3.2% to 8.2% during brooding phase and 2.1 to 5.3% during grower phase. It can be concluded form the present study that Vanaraja can be successfully reared under different agro-climatic condition of Sikkim under traditional tribal production system to augment the meat and egg availability in the rural areas.
Sikkim is the landlock state of India with international border on three sides and the agrarian economy of the state is derived from horti-livestock sector. Poultry keeping is an age old practice among rural and tribal community in Sikkim. Mostly tribal women are involved in backyard poultry rearing. Most of them rear as secondary source of their livelihood and also to supply family nutrition through production of egg and meat. However, due to inferior productivity of the local chicken and harsh climatic condition of Sikkim, there is huge gap exit between demand and supply of chicken meat. Vanaraja birds are popularized throughout India for backyard farming at low input production system to increase the availability of eggs and chicken meat in remote rural/tribal areas through Poultry Seed Project. Rao and Prakash (2005) had reported better performance of Vanaraja birds than desi birds in terms of body weight, age at first egg, hatchability and survivability. Bhattacharya et al. (2005) and Zuyie et al. (2009) had reported that Vanaraja birds had exhibited encouraging results at high altitudes. Performance of birds varied due to environmental factors like feed, climate, location, housing etc. (Akinci and Bayaram, 2004). The Vanaraja variety of chicken produces relatively larger size of eggs as compared to commercial layer birds at any point of laying period (Patra et al., 2016). In Sikkim, the eggs and meat of indigenous chicken fetch fair prices as compared to that of commercial chicken. Backyard poultry do not require large investment to start and maintain as compared to commercial poultry (Alders et al., 2009). Vanaraja, a dual purpose chicken has become popular among the rural people as one of the income generating activity especially for the rural women (Niranjan et al., 2008). In this context the present study was designed to evaluate the production performance of Vanaraja birds in Sikkim Himalayan region.
Materials and Methods
A study was conducted in four districts of Sikkim ranging from altitude 950 meters average msl to 1550 meters average msl in the farmer’s field to evaluate the growth and productive performance of Vanaraja birds under traditional rearing system. Sikkim enjoys a unique heterogeneous agro-climatic condition ranging from tropical to alpine ecosystem. Sikkim receives 2500 to 3000 mm mean annual rainfall. The temperature ranges from 4 to 30 °C. A total of 1120 day old chicks from ICAR hatchery unit were given to 22 tribal farmers under Tribal Sub Plan of Poultry Seed Project in four district i.e. eight farmers (n=330) in East district (1100 meters amsl), seven farmers (n=250) in South district (950 meters amsl), four farmers (n=230) in North district (1550 meters amsl) and three farmers (n=310) in West district (1540 meters amsl). Chicks of Vanaraja were reared under intensive system with brooding up to 6th week of age. After brooding birds were let loose during the day time by the farmers and offered on an average 50 g of feed per bird in terms of crushed maize, boiled rice, broken rice and kitchen waste etc. and the rest of their requirement was met by scavenging themselves in the form of insects, worms, seeds of grasses, tender leaves of grasses etc. All the chicks were vaccinated against Ranikhet and infectious bursal disease. Regular deworming was done against endoparasites. Body weights at day old, 1, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20 and 24 weeks of age, age at first egg laying, total egg production, egg weights at 40 and 72 weeks of age and mortality (%) were recorded. Statistical analysis of data was done as per the methods described by Snedecor and Cochran (1994) using SPSS 19.0. The effects of different climatic condition on growth rate and production performance were studied.
Result and Discussion
The mean body weight of Vanaraja birds at day one was similar in all the chicks supplied to the tribal farmers (Table 1). However, the effect of different climatic condition and rearing methods is obvious from first week itself, which was significantly (p<0.05) higher in South Sikkim as compared to other three districts. Mean body weight (MBW) in East Sikkim was significantly (0.05) higher than other districts from eighth week onward and this trend was continuous up to 24th week. Also, the MBW of birds in South Sikkim was significantly (P<0.05) higher than West and North Sikkim from eighth to 24 week. The higher weight gain in East and South Sikkim at any point of time during the study may be ascribed to comparatively conducive climate of these two districts, in addition to regular supply of feed and medicine. The growth rate recorded in West and North Sikkim was significantly slower compared to other two groups, but, it was normal for the Vanaraja variety which is in agreement with Kundu et al. (2015) and Rao and Prakash (2005). However, Zuyie et al. (2009) reported higher body weight gain at higher altitude in Nagaland which may be due to different climatic condition and rearing practices. Vanaraja was developed for backyard poultry farming in rural and tribal areas and they have a very good growth rate in backyard production system (Niranjan et al., 2008) which was also confirmed by our study.
Table 1: Body weight gain (g) of Vanaraja birds in different agro-climatic zone of Sikkim at different age (Mean ± S.E.)
|Age||East Sikkim||West Sikkim||North Sikkim||South Sikkim|
|in 1 week||69.05±11.48b||65.25±9.53b||72.45±13.68b||82.39±18.93a|
|in 4 weeks||423.16±22.56a||403.81±21.45a||413.08±20.74a||433.78±22.36a|
|in 8 weeks||1091.08±25.67a||757.06±21.53d||807.29±15.26c||992.83±24.71b|
|in 12 weeks||1485.25±26.23a||992.01±25.56b||966.06±27.23b||1504.12±25.42a|
|in 16 weeks||1916.92±25.69a||1348.26±27.89c||1251.46±28.12d||1856.37±27.89b|
|in 20 weeks||2425.14±25.69a||1605.87±26.28c||1570.25±27.09c||2315.78±23.35b|
|in 24 weeks||2754.27±19.85a||1842.71±29.30c||1789.91±32.33d||2564.56±24.25b|
Means with different superscripts within a row differ significantly (p<0.05)
The age at sexual maturity ranged from 165 to 189 days and average body weight at sexual maturity was recorded from 2379.12±18.11 to 1734.34±17.45 g (Table 2). The age at sexual maturity was significantly (P<0.05) lesser in East and South Sikkim compared to North and West Sikkim. Zuyie et al. (2009) also recorded the more age day at first egg laying in extensive rearing condition of Nagaland. However, Niranjan et al., 2008 recorded lower age at sexual maturity in Vanaraja birds which may be due to intensive rearing practices. Egg production up to 72 weeks were recorded from 92 to 107 numbers in the present study which is in agreement with Zuyie et al. (2009) and in disagreement with Niranjan et al.(2008) and Sankhyan and Thakur (2016). Egg weight at 40 weeks was recorded ranging from 50.78±0.26 to 55.05±0.56 g and at 72 weeks was from 60.12±0.24 to 67.25±0.92 g. Significantly (P<0.05) higher egg weight was observed in East Sikkim as compared to other districts at 40 as well as 72 weeks. The variation in egg weight may be explained on the basis of body weight gain as it was higher in the same group. Our findings are in agreement with Niranjan et al. (2008) and Sankhyan and Thakur (2016). Mortality during the present study varied from 3.2% to 8.2% during brooding phase and 2.1 to 5.3% during grower phase. Higher mortality in North and West district was recorded as compared to other groups which may be due to harsh climatic condition and remoteness of these two districts. However, the findings are in agreement with and Sankhyan and Thakur (2016) who has recorded similar results in Himachal Pardesh and Zuyie et al. (2009) in Nagaland.
Table 2: Production performance and mortality of Vanaraja birds in different agro-climatic zone of Sikkim
|Trait||East Sikkim||West Sikkim||North Sikkim||South Sikkim|
|Age at sexual maturity (days)||165.23±1.78b||189.45±2.57a||185.17±3.54a||170.24±2.08b|
|Weight at sexual maturity (g)||2379.12±18.11a||1779.85±17.45b||1734.34±17.45b||2329.02±19.25a|
|Hen day egg production (Hen/72 weeks)||107||96||92||112|
|Egg weight at 40 weeks (g)||55.05±0.56a||51.34±0.27c||50.78±0.26c||53.09±0.37b|
|Egg weight at 72 weeks (g)||66.71±0.78a||60.12±0.24b||62.24±0.48b||67.25±0.92a|
|Mortality (%) up to 6 weeks||3.2||6||8.2||3.7|
|Mortality (%) from 7 to 20 weeks||3.0||4.5||5.3||2.1|
Means with different superscripts within a row differ significantly (p<0.05)
It can be concluded from the finding of present study that although the body weight and other production performance trait were better in East and South Sikkim due to more conducive climatic condition, however, in North and West Sikkim the performance was as par with the breed characteristics in backyard farming. So, it is suggested that Vanaraja can be successfully reared under different agro-climatic condition of Sikkim under traditional tribal production system to augment the meat and egg availability in the rural areas.
Authors are highly thankful to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi for providing the fund for the present study through Directorate of Poultry Research, Hyderabad under Poultry Seed Project.