Even as farmers in Punjab have earned a big name for themselves across the country for their crop productions, a farmer in the State's Hoshiarpur district has found himself drawn to Emu farming.
Overwhelmed by the profits made through Emu farming, Gunraj Singh wants all other farmers to emulate him and enjoy a good income.
Emu is an Australian bird that can survive between 0 to 55 degree Celsius temperatures. And, Punjab's climate that touches about 40-45 degree during summer suits Emu.
Singh says that one can exploit the multiple returns in terms of Emus' meat, oil, skin, feather and even from their eggs besides he feels that there is a huge demand for this bird for ornamental purposes too. former honorary Wildlife warden of the area, Gunraj has been an animal lover and he says that this prompted him to set up the State's first "Emu Farm".
He says the bird is also viewed as rich in numerous medicinal properties, helpful for muscle and joint pain to the swelling along with being helpful during allergy-related problems due to eczema and fungal flaking. It is strongly recommended for all kinds of skin diseases, especially psoriasis. ccording to Gunraj, Emu farming can be a profitable venture for farmers and holds a big scope to contribute to the State's economy.
Besides Emus, imported Turkey, Pit-bull (a dog breed) from USA, miniature Cock, Jungle Cock, Ducks, guinea fowls and peacocks are some of the other attractions at Gunraj's farm.
"It was just love for the birds that took me to opt this business and moreover I am not going to culling and selling the flesh of the Emu, rather I would be interested to set up a hatchery to be in business of selling Emu chicks", said Gunraj.
He hopes that the farmers, even those who hold small piece of land and especially poultry farmers, can benefit from Emu farming, as poultry industry usually gets affected by avian flu at times, whereas Emu is not prone to such flues.
Gunraj, presently, has brought 50 pairs of Emu from Kerela into his farm, a number he intends to increase soon. A day old Emu chick comes for Rs. 5,000 in the market. And, its meat sells for Rs.500 per kg.
Emu meat is 98 per cent fat free and is rich in protein and iron, yet low in cholesterol. The fat is 43 per cent mono-unsaturated, which helps in lowering the 'bad' LDL cholesterol in the human body.
Gunraj said, "In fact, Emu meat, is recommended by the American Heart Association as a healthy alternative meat for heart and there was inquiries from Canada and if that clicked, it can be exported to Canada easily".
Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae), the largest bird native to Australia, is the second-largest in the world by height after its distant cousin, the ostrich.
Emu cannot fly and it can grow up to 6 feet (2m) in height and 30-45 kilograms (66 -100 pounds) in weight.
An Emu hen can be productive for 25 to 35 years or more and may lay 20 to 50 eggs in a season. A hen may start laying eggs as early as 18 months, but normally laying begins when they are 2 to 3 years old. A 14 to18-month-old bird would yield around 20 Kg in flesh and at least four litres of oil. By Ravinder Singh Robin (ANI)