Poultry Infomation Logo 
Poultry Articles Navigation

Poultry Articles

You are here: Home > Poultry > Articles > Extension > Extension Articles

Profile of rural poultry farmers in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal

*Division of Extension Education, IVRI, Izatnagar – 243 122
**Extn. & Trg., IIHR, Hessaraghatta, Bangalore – 560089
#Div of Extn. College of Vet. Sci, SKUAS&T, RS Pura, Jammu


Poultry rearing has been an integral part of many a households in rural areas. The present study was planned and carried out among 150 respondents in six villages of North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal State to find out the socio-economic profile of the poultry owners. The respondents were predominantly young, had education above primary level, were females belonging to Hindu religion from schedule caste/ schedule tribe/ other backyard caste with medium sized nuclear family. Agriculture was the major occupation and Animal Husbandry the subsidiary occupation. They had marginal land and small livestock holding with a low annual income. Majority of respondents were found to have a medium level of urban contact and low information source utilization.


Since time immemorial poultry has influenced man’s civilization in many ways. The livestock including poultry stand as sisterly operations to agriculture. Poultry production is highly adaptable in mixed farming system and provides continuous source of income to rural farmers during lean periods. Requirement of small space, low capital investment, quick return from outlay and well distributed turn over throughout the year make poultry farming remunerative in both rural as well as urban areas. The poultry farming has helped the farmers, both small and marginal for uplifting their economic status through supplementary income, self-employment and production of nutritive feed (Bagherwal, 1989). In India, village poultry are usually regarded as a “Walking Bank” or “Bank Coin” for the resource poor families. There is hardly any systematic data on rural poultry production. Thus, a look at the profile of the respondents is necessary to observe who rears the poultry, what is the social and personal composition of such people. Hence, the present study was an attempt to explore the socio-economic profile of poultry owners under different poultry production system.

Materials and methods

The study was conducted in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India. Two blocks were purposively selected from the district having high poultry population from the two zones (i.e. non-saline and saline zones). From each zone two cluster with three villages each, based on proximity were selected. From each selected cluster a total of 75 respondents, rearing poultry were selected randomly on proportionate basis to form a total sample size of 150 respondents. A structured interview schedule was prepared, pre-tested and administered personally for the purpose of data collection.

Results and discussion

In the present context profile of respondents included the age, sex, education, family size, family type, religion, caste, occupation, gross family income, type of house, electric supply, agricultural land holding, livestock holding, material possession, urban contact and information source- utilization. The data for each variable has been categorized under three types of poultry rearing system viz. intensive, semi-intensive and backyard.


Age is an important factor influencing the attitude of poultry farm owners. Majority of the respondents (54%) were from the young age group( < 35 yrs), whereas, 38 per cent belonged to middle age (35-50 yrs) and only a mere 8 per-cent hailed from the old age group (.50 yrs) and had an age of over fifty years. The overall average age was 35.18 years. So the present study indicates that majority of the poultry farmers were from the young age group. Thus, while planning programmes in poultry the aim should be to include the younger age group of interested persons, as they are more enthusiastic and ready to break away from tradition.


Education plays an important role in the overall progress of human kind. It broadens the horizon of people and is responsible for change in behavior i.e. the overt actions of human being. In the present study majority of the respondents (59.3%), had above primary level of education and only 18.7 percent were illiterate. Further, 63.7 per cent of the intensive poultry farmers had an education ranging from middle school to above high school, whereas, 78.1 per cent backyard poultry farmers had an education of primary level and below. Therefore, the average education was found to be of primary level. The present research findings amply show the role of education since, the respondents with higher education opted for the intensive system in order to increase their profits and overall income. Fee (1995) pointed out that the power that exists in having knowledge must be provided through educational programmes.


Occupation requiring technical know how is often the domain of men, whereas, those which require little or no technical input have been pursed by women. This can be authenticated by the findings that most of the men reared poultry under the intensive system, whereas, the women respondents reared under the backyard system. Although on an overall basis majority of the respondents (68.7%) were females. However, a detailed look at the data reveals that 85 per cent of the poultry owners in the intensive system were males and a mere 15 per cent were females, whereas, in the semi-intensive system they were more or less evenly distributed. However, in the backyard system the case was exactly opposite to the intensive i.e. 96.9 per cent were female and only 3.1 per cent were males. This finding is in consonance with the findings of Adhikari (1987) and Spardbrow (1995), Parker and Friedgmen (1993) and Bhurtal (1996) who opined that poultry can give women the financial independence much required even in illiterate families.

Religion and caste

Majority (66%) of the respondents were Hindu followed by 31.3 per cent Muslim and 2.7 per cent Christian. An almost similar picture can be seen among the intensive and backyard poultry farmers. Seemingly, the semi-intensive poultry farmers belonged to Muslim (57.1%), Hindu (28.6%) and Christian (14.3%) religion.
With reference to caste majority of the respondents on overall basis belonged to either schedule caste (26.6%), schedule tribe (8.7%) or other backward caste (20%), whereas, nearly forty-five per cent of the respondents belonged to the general category of caste. The distribution was found to be equal in backyard system i.e. 50 per cent general caste and 50 per cent to other castes, whereas, in intensive and semi-intensive system 36.2 per cent and 28.6 per cent, respectively belonged to general caste and the rest belonged to SC, ST and OBC.
Religion and caste are deciding factor in adoption of animal husbandry enterprises. Although, there are no taboos attached to cattle rearing, however, poultry, piggery and goatary are deemed to be the occupation of only certain caste. The findings of the study shows that majority of the respondents (38.3% Hindu, 23.4% Muslim and 2.1% Christian) under the intensive system belonged to schedule caste (SC), schedule tribe (ST) and other backward caste (OBC). Seemingly, 28.6 per cent each Hindu and Muslim and 14.2 per cent Christian in the semi-intensive system of farming were from the SC/ST/OBC category. In the backyard system the percent respondents belonging to SC, ST and OBC were 34.4 per cent, 13.5 per cent and 21 per cent of the Hindu, Muslim and Christian, respectively. All the rest of the respondents belonged to the general caste. The result shows that nearly two-third of the respondents belonged to either scheduled caste, scheduled tribe or other backward caste; Panda and Nanda (2000) also reported similar findings. Whereas, one third of the respondents belonged to the general caste even from the Hindu religion. This may be because of the progressiveness of the state and also since West Bengal ranks second in poultry production (Anonymous, 1998). This can clearly be seen as an ostensible example of diffusion of innovation Rogers (1995).

Family size

Forty-five per cent respondents had a family with 5 to 8 members (medium), 32.7 per cent had a family with four members or less (small), whereas, 22.6 per cent had a large family size of more than eight members. Majority of the intensive and backyard poultry farmers were of small (38.3% and 31.2% respectively) and medium (34.1% and 50%, respectively) sized family, whereas, 42.9 per cent each of the semi-intensive poultry farmers had a medium to large family size. The average family was found to be 6 members per family.

Family type

Majority of the poultry farmers irrespective of the system of rearing (intensive 59.6%, semi-intensive 85.8% and backyard 64.6%) belonged to the nuclear family type.
The size of the family generally indicates the number of helping hands, however, it was seen that majority of the respondents had a medium family size and belonged to nuclear families. This shows a changing trend from the old joint family system to nuclear families.


The study revealed that agriculture was the main occupation of sixty-five per cent of the farmers (42.6% intensive, 71.4% semi-intensive and 76.1% backyard). A mere 11.3 per cent, 10 per cent, 7.3 per cent and 6 per cent had business, animal husbandry, labour and service, respectively, as their main occupation irrespective of the system of rearing. Further, animal husbandry was a subsidiary occupation for majority (90%) of the poultry owners (68.2%, intensive; 100% semi-intensive and 100% backyard). The family occupation like masonry, carpentry, etc. was a poor second with 22.6 per cent, respondents followed by labour (12.7%), business (6%) and agriculture (4%).
Mannon (1997) and Panda (1979) were of the view that poultry keeping is one of the tools available for an integrated rural development and for bringing about socio-economic transformation of small entrepreneurs. It was found to be the major occupation for a few and subsidiary occupation for almost all the respondents. Swain and Mohanty (1996) and Iqbaluddin (1998) also reported similar findings. Poultry were reared along with fish, duck and agriculture also in the study area.

Agricultural Land Holding

Among the intensive farmers 72.1 per cent had a marginal land holding whereas, under the semi-intensive 57.1 per cent had a small, followed by 42.9 per cent with marginal land. In backyard system majority of the respondents (57.3 %) had marginal land and 38.5 per cent landless respondents 4.2 per cent with small land holding. The average land holding was reported to be 1 hectare.

Livestock holding

Majority (74.4%, intensive, 100% semi-intensive and 100% backyard) of the poultry farmers had a livestock holding size of 10 cattle equivalent units. Only 17.0 per cent and 8.6 per cent of intensive poultry farmers had 10-20 and 20-30 cattle equivalent units, respectively. Thus, it can be said that the respondents had small livestock holding which was found to be 3.42 cattle equivalent units.
The respondents in the area of study were found to own large livestock holding. This unmistakably shows that the respondents have an inclination towards Animal Husbandry.

Total family income

Majority of the respondents (78%) fell in the category of low income group earning between Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 42,000 per annum with 80.9 per cent intensive, 85.8 per cent semi-intensive and 76.2 per cent backyard farmers belonging to this income category. The average annual income was Rs. 27, 227.
Majority of the respondents belonged to the income group between Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 42,000 per annum i.e. above the poverty line. Panda and Nanda (2000) found that low-income groups generally pursued this enterprise. This clearly shows that poultry is a very important source of income especially in case of exigencies. Thian (1986) also bruited that rural women raise poultry for the purpose of being able to meet unexpected family expenses.

Urban contact

Majority of the respondents (68% intensive, 57.1% semi-intensive and 77.1% backyard farmers) had a medium level of urban contact. The rest 32 per cent intensive, 42.9 per cent semi-intensive and 13.6 per cent backyard farmers had a high and only 9.3 per cent backyard farmers had a low level of urban contact.
The contact with the urban areas is the indicator of the progressiveness of individuals it can be inferred from the finding of the study that the respondents had a medium level of urban contact although the information source utilization was not upto the desired level. Okine (1993) pointed out that since extension officers rarely meet with rural women they have no idea of what the women need and certainly do not transmit any of the new technology to them.

Information source- utilization

Hardly any source was utilized frequently by the respondents for gaining information regarding poultry on an overall basis. All the respondents under different system of poultry rearing has a low level of source utilization. Majority of the intensive poultry farmers used the institutional source (79.8%) and mass media source (83%) at low level, however, nearly seventy-four per cent of them did not use non-institutional source at all. Only 19.2 per cent had a medium level of institutional source and 17.4 per cent never utilized mass media source. Under the semi-intensive system of rearing also, majority of the farmers had a low level and only 14.3 per cent had a medium level of utilization of institutional source. On the other hand 14.3 per cent never used mass media and 85.7 per cent had low level of source utilization. As regards to non-institutional source 57.1 per cent, had low, whereas, the rest i.e. 42.3 per cent had medium level of source utilization. The backyard poultry farmers 60.4 per cent and 27.1 per cent never used institutional and mass media sources, respectively, and 39.6 per cent and 72.9 per cent, used it, but to a low level. With regard to non-institutional source 84.4 per cent had low, followed by 14.6 per cent medium and 1 per cent no source utilization.


Poultry production in India is an integral part of Animal Husbandry, providing a much important subsidiary and gainful employment and thereby, raising the economic status of a mammoth portion of population of the country. The study highlighted that poultry production plays a significant role in rural people’s life. Particularly in West Bengal it has been observed that livestock and poultry population mainly confined to the weaker section of the society. Thus, proper policies and strategies are necessary for production by masses rather than mass production.


Anonymous (1998). Compendium of environment statistics-1998. pp. 58
Adhikari,N.(1987).Economic analysis of women labour involvement in crop and livestock farming at Nuwaket District of Nepal. M.S. Thesis in Agricultural Economics, BSU, Philippines.
Bagherwal, R.K. (1989). Poultry: In socio-economic development of small farmers. Poultry Guide, 26(12): 69-71.
Bhurtel, R. (1996). Women’s participation in rural poultry development. XX World’s Poultry Congress, New Delhi, 2-5 Sept, 1996, 3:413-417.
Fee, S. (1995). Personal communication. United states agency for international development. American Consulate General, Jerusalem, Israel.
Iqbaluddin (1996). Poultry production through rural development. Scientific proceeding of second pan common wealth veterinary conference, Vol. 1, Bangalore.
Menon, M.N. (1977).Message - Indian Poultry Industry Year Book. 1976-77, pp. 7.
Okine, V. (1993). The survival strategies of poor families in Ghana and the role of women therein. In:Women in Development Economics. Making visible the Invisible (Ed. Massiah, Joycelin), Berg publishers, Inc., Providence, Rhode Island, pp. 182.
Panda, J.N. (1979). “Poultry Industry in India”. Indian Poultry Industry YearBook. 1978-79, Section 1, pp. 4-16.
Parker, A. R. and Friedgmen, M. (1993). Gender and institutional change in international development. In: Women at the centre. Development Issue and practices for the 1990s. Kumarian Press, West Hart ford, Connecticut, pp. 123-124.
Panda, B.K. and Nanda, S.K. (2000). Women employment in village chicken production and strategies for its improvement. Poultry Punch, 16(6): 42-47.
Rogers, E.M. (1995). Diffusion of Innovations. The free press, New York.
Spardbrow, P.B. (1995). Report to Delegates on the Australian centre for International Agricultural Research on New castle disease Vaccines for village chickens workshop, Onderstepoort, South Africa, December 6-9.
Swain, P. and Mohanty, T. (1996). Poultry farming: A means for self emplyment. Poultry Guide, 33(12): 71-73.
Thian, M. (1986). The role of women in rural development in the Seghov region of Mali. In: Women farmers in Africa. Rural Development in Mali and the Sahel (Ed. Creevery, Lucy E). Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, New York, pp. 73.

Source : IPSACON-2005
|| articles || contact us || advertising || privacy policy || poultry menu || site map || feed manufacturers || hatcheries ||
Featured poultry articles at poulvet.com
Copyright 2001 - 2005 © Poulvet.com.   All Rights Reserved