Cage ban: a serious threat of malnourishment for Indian population

Animal Activist’s demand for banning of cages for raising of poultry or the modification of present method of caging birds is ridiculous. They say its cruelty to the birds. Probably they do not understand the psychoeconomic reasoning of present system of caging birds. They should know if the same breed is in open system, free range they will hardly lay 150 eggs per annum. When the same breed is kept in deep-littersystem, where the space is 2 square feet per bird, they lay around 275-280 eggs per annum. However, when the same breed is kept in cages, they lay around 330 eggs per annum, and with around 10% of lesser feed consumption as compared to deep-litter.One thing that should be ensured to the consumer is that the Indian Poultry Industry do not use any hormones to increase the productivity.
Poultry industry is keeping the birds in such a way that the farmer gets maximum production along with maximum profit. Both cannot be achieved without keeping the birds with comfort.
CARI, ICAR and Government of India should have conducted the stress tests (serologic test) as conducted in human beings. Such tests should be done for all three types of poultry bird keeping systems. Naturally, those birds kept under comfortable condition shall experience minimum stress, which shall automatically lead to higher production. It is better to prove this through scientific studies, so that any confusion whatsoever, shall be removed from the minds of those who are pleading for putting ban on the use of cages for raising the poultry birds in this country.
Present space to a layer in cage system is around 425 -450 cm per bird which is a comfortable space for the birds giving maximum production with minimum feed and mortality. Such a system also results in clean and hygienic egg production. The Animal Activists who truly care for animals need to understand that for Poultry Birds and for Economical Poultry Farming, the cage-system is the need of the hour. Any change in the present system will increase the cost of production by many folds for which farmers may or may not get extra price as the daily egg rate is announced by the traders who never bother about cost of production. This will force the farmers to reduce the production, which could ultimately impact on national health due to the shortage of animal protein foods.
Indian poultry production is increasing constantly, being amongst top 3 in the world. This is meeting both Indian and to a little extent global nutrition demands. Indian poultry farmer is a domesticator of poultry birds. Their empathy and care towards human life, generation of employment and building the sustainable livestock sector has always been a priority. NGO workers and the devout lovers of animals need to understand this difference between poultry farming domestication vs keeping pets.
India as a one big country is deficient with respect to the protein availability for its huge human population and egg is the biggest lifeline of High Protein source. Egg is a pure and unadulterated, and low-cost protein source available. According to the data of malnutrition, India is ranked at an abominable rank of 103 in Global Hunger Index. It is 17th worst country to have high levels of under 5 years children malnutrition. There are 39% cases of stunted children. There is a wave of protests to ban cages, which is an effective, economical and everlasting poultry domestication practice. However, those who propose a ban on keeping poultry in cages, giveno thought to 37% case of underweight malnourished children in under 5-year-old group. Our country has 8% acute malnourished children and 21% wasted children in under 5-year group, apart from the malnourished children in higher categories. On account of malnutrition there are 15 lakh child mortality per annum as reported in an article by Times of India. India needs good, stable and hygenic food. It needs its children to grow healthy and strong. There are58% anaemic children in Indian population, as reported in popular media. This figure covers children of the household of entire nation. Among animal proteins, eggs are the cheapest and have a healthy sustainable future.
A Humble request to the new ministry of Poultry, Dairy and fisheries to look into the matter and stop all murmuring against Indian Poultry Industry, in view of national need, that is protein for the masses. One even suspects that there may be some groups getting funding from foreign sources to destabilize the poultry Industry of India, which is growing rapidly against all odds. With regard to ban on Growth Promoters, we should whole heartedly support it. But at the same time, we should not be against the use of probiotic prebiotic, emulsifier, acidifier, and many good herbal products in the poultry industry, in order to enhance poultry production in the country.
by Shabir Ahmed Khan, Tropical Institute of Livestock Management and Health