SRINAGAR: The new item of rather wasteful spending for Kashmiris involves colour. Chicks that are painted in different colours, to be precise. These chicks are actually a ‘waste product’ from hatcheries outside the state and experts even fear they can turn out to be carriers of poultry diseases.
These chicks are brought into the state by non-local vendors after becoming ‘rejects’ — since they are mostly male chicks – in hatcheries in North India, and after going through the process of being coloured. Poultry expert Dr Syed Altaf Gilani told Kashmir Reader that these cute looking birds, which are sold in different markets in the Valley, are male batches produced during hatching of a layer breed.
Gilani explained that during a hatch almost half of the chicks turn out male and layer farms do not need them at all as insemination is carried out artificially. So, these ‘unwanted males’ are picked up by vendors who manage to make some money out of selling them after making them ‘attractive’ by dyeing them in different colors.
Arvind Kumar, one such vendor, in Batamaloo, who hails from Jhajjar in Haryana, told Kashmir Reader that they (vendors) procure these chicks from dealers to be sold in Kashmir. As it is quite hot in the Indian plains around this time of the year, the chicks survive here and, as Kumar said, vendors “make good money, selling them at Rs 10 per bird”.
The main customers, according to vendors, are children who buy these chicks as ‘toys’ or pets. However, Gilani sees no purpose in rearing them and even says their ordeal constitutes gross animal rights violation. “Dyeing them in colour, besides their traveling long distances by road, is clear animal rights violation,” he said.
He adds that even if these chicks survive, they cannot produce eggs and become a drain on animal feed. Instead, he suggests that people can gainfully engage in rearing poultry that not only deliver eggs but fulfill our meat requirement.
GM Bhat, president of the Kashmir Valley Poultry Farmers Association, feels that Kashmir presents a good market for these hatcheries to dump their ‘burden’, even though such chicks are sold outside the state too.
But both Bhat and Gilani aver that these chicks are not vaccinated, and can become carriers of different poultry diseases and that there should be proper safeguards on imports.