Emu a bird which cannot fly can ensure a stable income and several agriculturists in state are now contemplating a shift from traditional farming and are planning to rear emus which is gradually catching their fancy.
One such example was witnessed in Sirmaur district, when Ravinder Kumar after retiring from the Indian army decided to go back to his farms. But he did not start off with traditional farming and decided to start an emu rearing farm, which has now become a centre of attraction for several other young and progressive farmers in the district who are looking for farm diversification.
Ravinder Kumar started emu farming in February 2011 at his native village Khuniya in Pachhad block here and since then he hasn't looked back.
“I started my own venture by investing Rs 4 lakh and bought 12 birds from it,” Ravinder Kumar said, adding that rearing emu was a highly remunerative meat-processing industry.
"Still in its nascent stage in the northern states, its meat is in huge demand, as it sells for Rs 350 per kg," he said.
Informing further he added that one caretaker can easily handle more than 100 pair of birds.
“Found mainly in Australia, emus are domesticated for their high-value oil, meat, eggs, skin, claws and feathers. An adult emu pair costs around Rs 30,000 and an egg is sold for up to Rs 1,200. If a farm hatches chicks and sells breeding birds in the first year an entrepreneur can recover 90% of the project cost," he said.
He said a three-month-old pair easily fetches Rs 10,000, whereas the egg costs around Rs 1,000.
“In economic terms, the return is 10 times more with just three months of egg hatching. It is not very expensive to rear emus. In fact, it needs simple care and no major vaccination," he added.
The weather in the mid-hills of the state is amiable for rearing emus, said senior veterinary officer Dr Neeru Shabanam.
She said emu farming, because of low maintenance cost, would be more successful in areas, where people find it hard to grow fruit crops due to monkey menace. An adult bird, which starts laying eggs after 18 months of hatching, continues to breed till the age of 40. On an average, a healthy emu lays up to 40 eggs in a year between October and April.