Interesting story on this new egg business in Madurai. First, they are allowing hens to roam around free and then are mixing traditional knowledge which is helping raise healthier hens and eggs.
Textile trader Manjunath Marappan and Ashok Kannan, a herbs trader with great knowledge on traditional and natural farming and medicines, share a common passion for healthy food produced by happy animals. This gave birth to Happy Hens Farm, a free-range eggs start-up, in 2012 in Madurai. Free-range refers to the traditional way of raising hens – letting them roam free and forage as they like.
“Though backyard poultry is widely practiced in India, the high rate of consumption in metro cities and poor connectivity between farmers and consumers, and influence of the western model, gave way for factory farming. The rest is history,” says co-founder Marappan.
Indian factory farms confine approximately 200 million hens in barren battery cages. Each bird lives within a space smaller than a single sheet of paper for more than a year before she’s slaughtered. Cage-free hens have more space and are able to walk, fully spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests.
Set up on 25 acres in Trichy, Happy Hens Farm’s concept is the larger version of backyard poultry. It follows RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) standards, which define the space given to each bird and not overcrowding them.
“Happy Hens’ eggs assure the sunny side, in its true sense, to our customers, as it is a guilt-free food. We do all that is required to keep our girls (hens) happy,” he says.
This bit on traditional knowledge:
In addition to free-range standards, Happy Hens Farm takes interest in treating its birds with natural and traditional remedies. There include Brahmi, basil, sweet flag, turmeric, neem, aloevera and the like, that have high medicinal value in the diet to ensure good health of the birds.
“The knowledge of rearing with traditional methods is fading. We need to carry forward our rich Vedic knowledge and remedies, which have solutions to the disease issues. We are looking at rearing BSF (black soldier fly) worms from unused/surplus vegetables from the market, which will be a break-through in the industry,” says co-founder Kannan.
Happy Hens is the only start-up that operates in the cage-free eggs production industry, which already has established players like Keggs Farm. Marappan, however, says he doesn’t see any competition.
“We are unique,” he says. “Rearing native Indian breeds while complying with global RSPCA standards, and by practicing in traditional and sustainable methods, make us stand apart from other commercial-scale players.”
Great to read..