Turkey farming finds favour with Thanjavur women SHGs

Thanjavur Aug. 10. Turkey farming is catching up in Thanjavur district — thanks to efforts taken by the Veterinary University Training and Research Centre here and enthusiasm shown by women self-help groups.

There are 30-40 turkey farms in and around Thanjavur. Sirpi SHG of Sithayal in the Thanjavur panchayat union has developed a model farm. According to Panchavarnam, president, SHG, it started with a few birds last August and now the number is 80 birds and ten chicks. She is selling turkey meat for Rs. 95 a kg. A bird weighs four-five kg. Eggs are sold at Rs. 10 each. "I earned Rs. 1,800 selling eggs alone." She owes her expertise in farming to the VUTRC. "The training they gave made me rear the birds better," she says.

G.Anusuya, a handicapped woman, of Thennankudi has done intensive farming at Thennankudi in the Thanjavur panchayat union. She has sixty birds now. "For husbanding 50 chicks, I need Rs. 1,000. But the chicks are sold at Rs. 100 each. I earned Rs. 5,000 selling 50 chicks. Chicks are costlier than grown-up birds as they are the first investment and act as parent birds." The VUTRC has been training women continuously. A group of 20 self-help group women members was taken to Sithayal on a field visit as part of a three-day training.

According to N.Punniyamurthy, head and professor, VUTRC, and S.Sathesh Kumar, assistant professor, turkey farming is the best way to empower rural women economically. The bird is a wild South American species, said to have come from Mexico via England to India along with the Britishers. It is a delicacy at special thanksgiving meetings in England and South America. There are two varieties: the broadbreasted variety and Holland White. A white and black cross is also available. "Chick management is an important aspect of farming. Chicks have to be properly managed for 45 days. During training, a thrust is given to their management.

We have classified farming into free range, intensive and semi-intensive and give guidelines to women accordingly," says Sathesh Kumar. Turkey meat can be used for preparing biriyani, fried and gravy items.