With a poultry institute and a centre to breed bulls of high pedigree, Hessarghatta is a hub of animal husbandry

Hessarghatta is the hub of agriculture and animal husbandry — State and central units of fisheries and poultry, and the State cattle rearing institutes are housed here.

What began as a regional poultry unit in 1960 was merged with various central poultry units in Hessarghatta to form the Central Poultry Development Organisation and Training Institute (CPDO&TI).

“The CPDO&TI is the national centre for duck and turkey production and supply,” says deputy director P.S. Mahesh. “We have trainees from over 55 countries coming to us for help, but I find it rather sad that most people within the State and even Bangalore are unaware of it.”

Four species of birds

The institute rears chicken, turkey, ducks and emu for both eggs and meat on its 150-acre plot.

It has undertaken production of what are called low input technology birds. “We focus on the rural farmer and entrepreneurs whose start-up budget is small. The farmer's chicks grow in his backyard, feeding off kitchen waste like a member of the family,” Dr. Mahesh says. “Our hatchlings are healthy and disease resistant, requiring low maintenance in terms of medical attention,” he explains.

In 2003, the institute began orientation courses and need-based training for farmers and entrepreneurs sponsored by NGOs and the government. Most training programmes range from one to six weeks.

Emu farming

Emu farming was started in 2007. “In India, it is still in its infantile stages, now accounting for 5 per cent of the market value. It will take around five years or so to pick up pace,” Dr. Mahesh says.

CPDO&TI also has a single male ostrich on its premises, which is a popular tourist attraction. “In order to clarify the difference between an ostrich and an emu, we brought it in 2009,” he says.

Reared for milk

The State Livestock Breeding and Training Centre at Hessarghatta was started in 1964 by the then governments of Mysore and Denmark as an Indo-Danish project. It later came under the complete control of the Karnataka government. The centre undertakes maintenance of pure bred dairy animals, which are reared for milk as well as breeding bull calves.

Four breeds including Jersey and Murrah are available. “Native cows, while being disease resistant yield less milk. For this reason, we cross breed an exotic variety with our native female cow. This way, the progeny produced yield more milk, are disease resistant and reach early maturity,” says assistant director, G.R Omkarappa.

Unlike the poultry, these animals are not for sale.

The centre's embryo transfer technology programme helps produce bull calves of high pedigree. These are later used for frozen semen production.

Farmers are given practical training, including in embryo transfer, and live demonstrations are done.