The mean process of colouring just-born chickens is threatening hundreds of birds in Kashmir valley, as markets are flooded with these eye-candies aimed to coax the customers. However, little do the consumers know that most of these birds die in about two days.
Scores of boxes containing green, purple, orange, red chicks are on sale across Srinagar and other districts of the valley. The traders selling these birds, which are dipped in coloured water, are primarily non-Kashmiris and from outside the valley.
Most of these coloured birds die very soon.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Kashmir animal husbandry director Shamshu-ud-din Makhdoomi said, "The colour is threatening to these birds as most of them die in about two days".
Domestication of birds continues to be a tradition in both urban and rural pockets in the valley. These coloured birds, however, are mostly male chicks of layered birds, which are primarily efficient egg producers and not meat producers.
"We suspect that these unwanted male chicks are being smuggled from Punjab into Kashmir just to cheat customers. We have not been able to verify any source yet. The department will start an exercise to understand the phenomena. It is for sure excessive male layered chicks are being secretly brought into the valley market," said Makhdoomi.
The animal husbandry department will start an awareness campaign to stop the sale of coloured chicks. "I warn customers to desist from buying these layered chicks. These birds do not grow at all. Such colouring methods are used just for entertainment purposes only and intended to lure kids," said Makhdoomi.
"It is an important issue where lives of hundreds of chicks are at stake. We will write to the Srinagar municipal corporation to act against such sellers and seize the stocks. At present, the animal husbandry lacks powers to act on its own and seal the stocks," said Makhdoomi.
There is no official figure on how many such birds have sneaked into the valley markets but rough estimates put the number in thousands.
It is only at the peak of summers these coloured "unwanted" chicks appear in the valley. Apparently, the producers outside the state fail to safeguard these unwanted male chicks due to the hot weather and try to dump them at colder places like Kashmir. Otherwise, the life span of male chick from a layered bird is short and is of not utility.
According to the official figures, Kashmir consumes at least five crore birds annually and around one crore is imported from outside the valley. Only around 20 per cent comprise layered birds and the rest are broilers.