Jammu, Oct.25 : People in Jammu and Kashmir may soon be able to relish a new variety of bird meat, which is expected to be beneficial for the poultry farmers here.
The Poultry Wing of the Animal Husbandry Department of Jammu and Kashmir Government is breeding Emu, the largest Australian bird. It is common over most of mainland Australia, although it avoids heavily populated areas, dense forest and arid areas.
Emu, which develops an adult body at 20 months, has a lifespan of up to 30 years. It can lay eggs till 25 years of age, which is much more than a normal Indian hen. It weighs more than 60 kilograms and grows beyond five feet.
The officials of the Department have taken into consideration the success of poultry farmers in Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh who took up breeding the bird for meat.
The Department has presently imported a couple of emus on an experimental basis from Maharashtra and is exploring the possibilities of breeding them in Jammu.
"The bird's native place is Australia, where it can be commonly found. Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are breeding this bird. It is becoming quite popular among farmers there. Therefore, we have introduced it here," said Indu Bhushan, Manager (Poultry Wing), Animal Husbandry Department in Jammu
"This will bring more benefits in comparison to the conventional poultry hens and roosters when we introduce it. It can be used for meat and also to make cosmetics," said Bhushan added.
The department has already ascertained the various factors vis--vis survival of Emus in extreme temperatures as well as humid and cold climates.
Five of these birds have been brought from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to Jammu. Three of them have survived while two died.
During the ensuing winter season, poultry experts and veterinarians will closely monitor these emus before propagating them among poultry farmers in the region.
Introduction of these birds in poultry farms will help in maintaining the poultry prices constant in Jammu.
The local poultry farmers, meanwhile, hope to reap good gains from emu as a poultry bird. But they are waiting for the final observations of the Animal Husbandry Department.
"We do not have market for the big hen in Jammu. Customers' demand is for a kilogram or one- and-a-half kilogram of meat, nothing more than that," said Jaspal Singh, a local customer.
However, the Poultry Wing of the Animal Husbandry Department is keen to try out breeding emus on an optimistic note so as to lend a fillip to poultry produce in Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir.