The animal husbandry department of Kashmir has a new problem in its hands.
Poultry farmers of neighbouring states are not only colouring unwanted male chicks of layer birds in pretty greens and purples and oranges and dumping them in the valley but are also selling them to locals.
There are two kinds of poultry - 'broiler' or birds bred for meat and 'layer' or egg-producers.
Male layer chicks can neither lay eggs nor are suitable for meat production and they have a very short life span. So, the standard practice is to kill and dispose of such birds shortly after birth.
The colouring process further harms the birds and they die within two to three days.
"We suspect these unwanted male chicks are being smuggled from Punjab just to cheat customers. But we have not been able to verify any source yet," said Kashmir animal husbandry director Shamsu-ud-Din Makhdoomi.
Officially the number of birds smuggled into the valley isn't known, but rough estimates put the number at several thousands.
The animal husbandry department has decided to launch an awareness campaign. "I warn customers to desist from buying these layer chicks. These birds do not grow at all," said Makhdoomi.
The department will write to the Srinagar municipal corporation to act against the sellers and seize all such stocks. "At present, the animal husbandry lacks powers to act on its own and seal stocks," said Makhdoomi.