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Bright Prospects for Growth of Chicken Industry in India

26 November 2012

Cobb

The managing director of Venco Research and Breeding Farms in India describes his company's broiler breeding programme and how this has been tailored to meet the needs of the local market in the latest issue of 'Cobb Focus'.

Cobb’s Indian partner, Venkateshwara Hatcheries Group, is unique in developing its own breeds which have achieved great success in the Indian market.

Cobb Focus asked Dr Genda Lal Jain, managing director of Venco Research and Breeding Farms, about the breeding programme and how this has met the challenge of local market.

What are your targets in breeding broilers for the Indian market?

Dr Jain: The main objective of our breeding programme is to develop our product in the same environment and husbandry conditions in which the farmers and breeders are keeping their birds.

All the pedigree birds are reared in open-sided houses exposed to vagaries of nature and on similar husbandry practices, feed and feeding practices as adopted by Indian broiler farmers. Almost 98 per cent of the broilers and about 85 per cent of the breeders are kept in open-sided houses in India. Major emphasis in the breeding programme is given to feed efficiency, livability and growth rate.

How important is breeder performance?

Dr Jain: India has been traditionally a chick selling market for several years. However, now the things are changing. Almost half the broilers are reared by the breeders in an integrated setup using contract farming. This makes both breeder and broiler performance equally important.

How important are broiler growth and feed efficiency, and using what type of feed?

Dr Jain: Typically in India, the broilers are marketed at the weight of 1.8 to 2.2kg (4 to 4.9lb) in different parts of the country. This growth is generally achieved in 35 to 40 days of age. With the rise in the feed prices, the feed efficiency has become the most important trait for the customers.

In fact, the breed decision is largely based on the feed efficiency of the product and Vencobb has the best feed efficiency compared to Ross 308, AA Plus and Hubbard, which are sold in the Indian market. The broiler diets typically used in India would have energy levels of about 3000Kcal with about 20 to 22 per cent protein, depending on the prices of the ingredients.

How important is meat yield?

Dr Jain: With the vast majority of chickens marketed live, there is no concept of white meat and dark meat. Birds are sold on live weight basis and freshly dressed at the shop. Consumers in India choose birds with a blooming breast rather for meat yield. Meat yield is just perception of the consumer based on the bird’s appearance. However, in processing sector where chicken meat is sold to institutions and fast food outlets, meat yield is important.

What is the extent of your research activities?

Dr Jain: Venco has a full-fledged pedigree programme with certain product lines and other experimental lines. All major product lines are on fast-track programme feeding the pipeline every eight weeks. All major traits of economic importance for the Indian market are measured and evaluated, with the emphasis placed on different traits in the selection program according to market requirements.

Currently, Venco is marketing three products. Vencobb100 is known for its high chick numbers and reasonably good feed efficiency. Vencobb400 has reasonably good breast meat yield and feed conversion besides excellent breeder performance. Vencobb400Y has highest breast meat yield and better feed conversion along with excellent breeder performance. Currently Vencobb400Y is the most popular product in India due to its all-round performance.

How much are genomics featuring today and in the near future?

Dr Jain: Currently, we are not working on genomics. In future we may take this up with the help from Cobb.

How are chickens mainly sold - whole, parts, processed, fresh or frozen?

Dr Jain: Almost 96 per cent of broilers produced in India are sold as live and fresh dressed as whole. About two per cent is sold as frozen either as whole chicken or parts as cut-ups. Another two per cent is further processed as deboned meat for QSRs like McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos and Subway.

How important is chicken in typical Indian diet?

Dr Jain: India is a country with multiple languages and culture with different food habits across the nation.

Chicken is not an integral part of the typical Indian diet. Approximately 25 per cent of the population is strictly vegetarian, not consuming any type of meat or eggs. Those who are non-vegetarian do not eat meat every day. Depending on their purchasing power, some would eat once or twice a week and others may eat it once or twice a month.

Beef is not normally marketed in India except buffalo meat. Mutton has become very expensive due to paucity of grazing land. Pork is not normally consumed in India. Therefore, chicken is the only and cheap alternative for meat eaters. In fact, QSRs like McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominos and Subway primarily use only chicken in their products, which will help to give chicken very bright prospects for growth in the Indian market.

November 2012



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