Up till 1963 there was no concept of commercial poultry rearing, hatchery operation or feed production in Pakistan. Now it is a developed industry contributing 1.4% of national GDP. It is also the cheapest source of meat available to public with a huge contribution of 30% of total meat production.
The poultry industry is the most organized industry in meat sector. Before 1962 only poultry available in country was backyard poultry. The backyard poultry consisted of local low yielding breeds.
At the age of 120 days they gain around 0.769 kg of meat and lay 30-70 eggs in a year and were kept under conditions known by the framers through their general and common rearing practices leading to less efficient production. At that time due to lack of other available options people were obliged to rear the same breeds of birds either productive or not.
Then came another option in the form Lyallpur Sliver Black (LSB) in 1965 produced by Desi breed cross with foreign introduced breeds including, New Hampshire, White Cornish and Leghorn using breeding program of a two-way process. LSB was able to lay 150 eggs in a year and a weight gain much higher than Desi breed. People really accept that breed and tried to rare such birds in their houses.
The commercial poultry production began in the country in 1962 after the establishment of the first commercial hatchery in Pakistan’s. It was established in collaboration by two investors viz. PIA and Shaver Poultry Breeding Farms of Canada. After one year in 1963 the first feed mill established commercially for poultry was established by Lever Brothers Pvt. Ltd. in the district Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab.
During this introductory period of poultry industry in Pakistan the government strongly supported the poultry industry by some excellent policies like tax exemptions on money earned from and invested in poultry industry, the permission to import poultry flocks and equipment free of custom duties, land leases, subsidies on grains used in poultry feed and making availability of loans through different financial institutions thus providing a strong base for development of poultry industry.
Two meat free days were announced by the government to promote the poultry meat in the country. In 1978 the development of poultry research institute in Rawalpindi and Karachi provided an institution that can provide scientific assistance to poultry farmers. In 1979 the Federal Poultry Board was established which helped in launching of a better and active nexus between the government and the industry. In 1979 the most important step of this era was taken by establishment of Pakistan Poultry Association (PPA).
The main aim of the establishment of PPA was to encourage petitioning to boost up the position of the investors and the industry. From day of its establishment till now PPA has accomplished its tasks well and has served the nation to its best. PPA has worked efficiently in changing behavior of public towards poultry meat and eggs through different advertisement and by making availability of researches showing nutritional values of poultry meat and eggs.
Through the years PPA has done hard work to change public’s behavior towards poultry and has succeeded in doing so. The services provided by these institutes made it possible to have an overall growth of 177%, 297% and 271% in number of birds, total number of eggs and total poultry meat production, respectively during the decade (from 1971 to 1980). But a simultaneous diseases outbreaks were seen in geographical relocations in warmer and densely populated areas of Sindh to less warm and less populated northern areas.
Disease outbreaks and harsh climatic conditions caused a lesser production in this phase of 1981 to 1990. The prompt decline in progress of poultry industry was 118%, 94% and 190% (total bird numbers, egg production and meat production as a whole. Like any other business, poultry industry has experienced a great many harsh experiences like a viral disease Hydro-Pericardium Syndrome (HPS). The HPS appeared and caused gigantic loses to the industry through a sharp decrease in profits in terms of less weight gaining and higher mortality rate.
In addition, there was an attack of Gumboro (a viral disease) having adverse effects on broiler, layer and even the parent flocks during 1991. Avian Influenza was another viral disease outbreak occurred in 1995 in Murree and Abbottabad regions and caused the death of almost 80% of the parent flocks. The research institutes across the country focusing the poultry played important roles in controlling these problems through extensive vaccination programs.
Due to these efforts poultry industry became stabilized again and showed a growth rate with the growth values of 99%, 67% and 125% in terms of total number of birds produced, total number of eggs produced and overall poultry meat production respectively. The poultry industry is then started stabilizing because of new investors and availability of new technologies such as environmentally controlled housing.
To meet up the new challenges especially of confinement related behavioral and thus performance issues new housing technologies such as barn and free-range systems were introduced. One of the greatest achievements in this era was the establishment of University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (UVAS) in Lahore in 2002. UVAS has proved to be an excellent institution as it has shown excellent performance in solving disease issues and has provided world class trained professionals to the industry.
The importance of the poultry meat industry is obvious as when broiler meat was in introductory period (in 1971) it was only 2–2.5% of total meat production while beef (large animal meat) was 61% and mutton (small animal meat) was 37% of total meat production. While in 2010 poultry meat has 25%, whereas beef has 55% and mutton has 20% of total meat production share and the supply is increasing along with the market demands.
Still there is a gap in the industry to be filled in as the meat is available per person is approximately 17 g in our country. In view of the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), the regular requirement of protein is 27 g per person. The share of poultry obtained proteins is only 5/17 g per person per day. And the gap according to ground realities can only be covered by poultry meat due to its current higher rate of production.
Still there are some poultry linked major problems exists in the country including seasonal price fluctuations, expansive and low-quality feed and different diseases of flocks especially bird flu. But as happened in the past, research is going on upon these issues and the researcher are optimistic that the issues will be resolved in the country in near future.
Pakistan being a Muslim country can provide halal meat worldwide. The poultry industry already has a share of 1.4% in GDP. Poultry can be the change in livestock sector in terms of food independence, poverty elevation, and can help to boost lives of village population if industry is utilized to its full potential.
By Arbab Sikandar