Farmers wait for the birds to lay eggs even if they are meant for meat

Livestock: Recognising turkey farming as a good source of cash income, Tsirang farmers were introduced to it. The dzongkhag livestock office distributed 235 poults to 46 farmers.

The farmers didn’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. They waited for the hems (female adult turkeys) to lay eggs so that they can expand the business. Farmers were told that a turkey would start laying eggs within 20-27 weeks. They were also told that the bird grew faster like broiler chickens and became ready for slaughter within a short time.

About 27 weeks later after some farmers received the toms (adult turkey) and hems, they are still waiting for the eggs. “The birds have not laid a single so far,” said a farmer from Goserling gewog, Pema Wangchuk. “Officials said the turkeys lay egg within 20-27 weeks and while supplying to us we were told that turkeys were already 26 weeks old but it has been almost one and half month and not a single egg is laid,” he said.

Pema Wangchuk knows the birds are for meat, but he had another ideas. “I wanted to rear them first and supply to my neighbors who are interested in the business of turkey,” he said.

Farmers are also skeptical if the new business would pick up. “We have not heard or seen it before,” said another farmer Pemba. However, farmers agree that rearing turkey was far easier than poultry.

“They are easy to feed. They eat everything,” said Pemba still doubtful if the birds would lay eggs.

None of the farmers have supplied turkey meat to the big hotels in Thimphu, a market they were convinced of by officials. “We heard that a kilogramme of turkey meat can fetch Nu 350, but we are yet to see it,” said a farmer.

Livestock officials said turkey farming is popular for meat rather than egg. “Turkeys can lay about only 80-100 eggs in a year,” an official said.

Dzongkhag livestock officer Dorji Wangchuk said that turkey farming is the first of its kind in the region. “Our objective is to provide farmers an alternative source of income, encourage self employment and uplift the rural livelihood,” Dorji Wangchuk said.

Yeshey Dema, Tsirang