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Integrated Farming Systems for North Eastern Hilly Region

This topic provides information about Integrated Farming Systems for North Eastern Hilly Region.

Importance of Integrated farming systems

Literal meaning of integrate is to combine two things in such a way that one becomes fully a part of the other. Integrated Farming System (IFS) is an interdependent, interrelated often interlocking production systems based on few crops, animals and related subsidiary enterprises in such a way that maximize the utilization of nutrients of each system and minimize the negative effect of these enterprises on environment. The interrelated, inter-dependent-interlocking nature of IFS involves the utilization of primary produce and secondary produce of one system, as basic input of the other system, thus making them mutually integrated as one whole unit. Primary goals of IFS are

  • Maximization of yield of all component enterprises to provide steady and stable income at higher levels.
  • Rejuvenation/amelioration of systems productivity and achieve agro ecological equilibrium.
  • Control the built-up of insects-pest, diseases and weeds population through natural cropping system management and keep them at low level of intensity.
  • Reducing the use of chemical fertilizer and other harmful agrochemicals and pesticides to provide pollution free, healthy produce and environment to the society at large.
  • Increase in natural resource use efficiency by early recycling of nutrients.
  • Mitigation of negative impact of agriculture or livestock on environment.

In India, efforts were made to develop low cost farming systems suitable for Indian conditions, based on the principles of productive utilization of farm wastes and fuller utilization of available resources and manpower. The sustained research efforts have resulted in the development of integrated farming systems involving fish culture, livestock raising and agriculture. The packages of practices for fish-cum-pig, fish-cum-duck and fish-cum-poultry farming have been developed and verified extensively for economic viability and feasibility at the farmers level. The manure of livestock contains a substantial amount of nutrients and biomass and its application in the pond helps in growth of Phytoplankton and Zooplankton, which act as a source of nutrients for fish. Indigestible feed ingredients present in manure directly consumed by the fish. The wasted feed from feeding through also can be recycled through fish culture. Time to time the bottom soil layer of the pond is removed and applied in the field for crop or vegetable farming which is rich in biomass.

The following Integrated Farming Systems suitable particularly for hilly regions of the North Eastern Region are explained below in a concise manner.

  • Integrated Fish cum Pig farming
  • Integrated Fish cum Duck Farming
  • Integrated Fish Farming-Chicken
  • Integrated Fish farming-cum-Cattle farming
  • Integrated Fish farming-cum-Rabbit farming
  • Integrated Fish farming-cum-Agriculture

Integrated Fish cum Pig farming

A scientifically sound and economically viable production system integrating pig husbandry with fish culture has been evolved for Indian conditions. The pig sties are constructed on the pond embankment or near the pond and the pig manure (faeces and urine) are directly drained into the pond or lifted from the animal house and applied to pond. The pig dung acts as excellent pond fertilizer and raises the biological productivity of the pond water and consequently increases fish production. Further, the fish also feed directly on the pig excreta which contain 70% digestible food for the fish. No supplementary fish feed or pond fertilizer is required in this system. The expenditure on fish culture is drastically reduced as the pig excreta acts as substitute to fish feed and pond fertilizer which accounts for 60% of the input cost in fish culture.

The system has obvious advantages:

  • The pig dung acts as excellent pond fertilizer and raises the biological productivity of the pond and consequently increases fish production.
  • Some of the fishes feed directly on the pig excrete which contains 70 per cent digestible food for the fish.
  • No supplementary feed is required for the fish culture, which normally accounts for 60 per cent of the total input cost in conventional fish culture.
  • The pond dikes provide space for erection of animal housing units.
  • Pond water is used for cleaning the pigsties and for bathing the pigs.
  • The system cannot be adopted in all parts of India due to religious consideration but it has special significance in the North Eastern Region as it can improve the socioeconomic status of weaker rural communities, especially the tribals who traditionally raise pigs at their backyards and fond of eating fish. They can take up fish-pig farming easily.

Pond Management

In establishing IFS depending on the farmer’s preference, suitable agro-climate, available technology and marketing facilities, natural resources conservation employing available modern concepts of farming systems are essential and vital for sustainable agricultural development and ensuring greater livelihood of the indigenous farming communities of the region. Therefore, natural resources management is an integral part of integrated farming system. North Eastern Hilly (NEH) region of India is characterized by varying topography that is largely affected by high seepage flow and flash runoff. Dual effect of water in the form of heavy rainfall during monsoon and water scarcity during post monsoon is severe in this region. Existing undulated terrain and dual effects of water are the main limiting constrain in storing/ concentration of runoff water. Hence, there has been an increasing interest in low cost Water Harvesting ponds for small scale farming practices as to tackle such problems in NEH Region of India.

Selection of pond

The ponds can be seasonal or perennial. The perennial ponds which retain water throughout the year are selected for culture of table fish. The newly excavated ponds should be rectangular in shape and of manageable size (0.4 ha).

Construction of low cost water harvesting pond for IFS

Small ponds of sizes ranging from 0.01 – 0.10 ha with desired depth of 1.0 – 1.5 metre with side slopes of 1- 1.5 m can be developed. These ponds may be lined with Low density polyethylene (LDPE)/ High density polyethylene (HDPE) to restrict seepage and percolation losses that are very high in NEH region in India. Figure shows water harvesting pond constructed and lined with 300 micron LDPE at KVK Aizawl. Since lined the pond base is treated with 3-5 cm layer soil (approx).

Pond Preparation: Ponds are generally infested with different types of weeds which are not desirable for healthy growth of fish. The weeds in small and large water bodies are controlled by either of the three ways viz: (i) manual method (ii) chemical method and (iii) Biological method.

The predatory fish directly prey upon the stocked fingerlings,whereas the weed fishes compete with them for food and oxygen. As such, complete eradication of such fishes from stocking pond is essential and netting, draining out or by applying fish toxicants to the pond. Drain and dry the pond to remove all the weeds and fish fauna remaining in the pond. If it is not possible to drain the pond,all the fish can be killed by applying 15 kg of both bleaching powder and urea for a 1000 m2 pond. Alternatively, 250 kg Mahua oil cake can be applied which kills all the fishes and also acts as organic pond fertilize. Pigs are brought to the pond before stocking the fish, so no basal application of manure is required.

Stocking:The pond is stocked after the pond water gets properly detoxified. The stocking rates vary from 8000-8500 fingerlings per hectare (100m x100m) and a species ratio of 40% surface feeders, 20% column feeders, 30% bottom feeders and 10% macro vegetation feeders is preferred for high fish yields. Mixed culture of Indian Major carps can be taken up with species ratio of 40% surface feeders,30% column feeders and 30% bottom feeders.

i. Culturing of Indian Major carps alone: Catla 3: Rohu 4 : Mrigal 3

ii. Culturing of Indian Major carps and common carps: Catla 3: Rohu 4 : Mrigal 1: Common carp 1

iii. Culturing of mixed species i.e.Indian Major carps and exotic carps : Catla 2: Rohu 3 : Mrigal 1 : Common carp  2 : Silver carp 1

Use of pig waste as manure: Pig dung, urine and spilled feed from pig sties are channeled into the pond everyday. The excreta voided by 30-40 pigs are adequate to fertilize one hectare water area under polyculture of fish. Pig manure contains many nutrients as mentioned in the Table 1.

Mean composition of animal manure

Type of Manure Dry matter(%) Crude protein (%) Non Protein Nitrogen(%) Ash(%) Ether extract (%) Crude Fibre(%) Acid Digestible Fibre (%)
Cattle Manure 20.4 16.9 - 14.0 3.1 23.9 40.3
Swine Manure 25 27.9 0.86 18.0 7.0 15.0 26.5
Cage layer





2.1 19.1 17.2
Broiler Manure 85.7


0.86 3.53




Broiler litter plus manure 88.7


0.86 2.47





Lime is applied @ 250-350kg/ha/yr depending upon the soil and water conditions. Half the quantity is applied before stocking the fish and the rest in 2-4 instalments as and when necessary.

Feeding of grass carp

Aquatic weeds such as Hydrilla/Najas etc. or chopped green cattle fodders such as maize, banana leaves, cow pea, oat, napier grass, leaves etc. are provided to grass carp.

Periodical netting

Trial netting is done once a month to check the growth of fish. It also helps in timely detection of parasitic infection, if any.

Control of algal bloom

Planktonic algae sometimes appear in great abundance in the manure-loaded creating algal bloom condition especially during the summer season. This condition is not desirable for fish culture, and these weeds are kept under control by using herbicides like Diuron or Simazine.

Pig husbandry practices

Management of pigs is very much essential for optimum production of pig meat. Good housing with adequate feeding and proper health cover are essential requirement for pigs. The roof of pig house may be GI sheet or asbestos. For healthy growth of pig, a lying space of 1-1.5sq.m./pig and dung area of 1.5 sq.m/pig is regarded quite adequate.

Selection of pig

The exotic upgraded stock of pigs such as large- white Yorkshire, Hampshire and Landrace are most suitable for raising in comparison to the local Indian variety since they are quick growers and prolific breeders. They attain slaughter maturity size (60-70kg) within 6 months and give 9-12 piglets in every litter. About 30-40 pigs can be raised for a hectare of pond area. Considering easy management and good return, it is advisable to rear only superior grower/fatteners in small scale Integrated Farming System, instead of rearing sows for piglet productions which require better care and management for profit. Large White Yorkshire, Landrace, Hampshire, Ghungroo, or superior upgraded animals are well adopted to the north eastern region and grow well in this climatic condition.

Housing of Pig

It is advisable to house the pigs in a raised plate form, which can be constructed with locally available materials like bamboo and wood. Now a day’s plastic slated floors are also available in the market. Raised platform will keep the pen dry and animal will suffer less from diseases. It is not mandatory to wash the animal daily when slated floors are used-except in summer months to reduce the heat load, provided the floor is clean. If floor is solid, regular cleaning is essential and separate lying (covered) and dunging (open) is required. Pig housed covered completely under roof is most preferred to prevent draining of manure by rain water. In covered house, we should consider the total lying and dunging area for calculating floor space requirement. In slated floor, which is costly to construct, the floor space requirement is less (dunging area may not required). In cold climate, per animal floor space requirement can be reduced.

Floor space required for different categories of animals:

Category of pigs Roofed/covered Area (Sqm) Open yard area (Sqm)
Boar 6.0-7.5 8.8-12.0
Farrowing sow 7.5-9.0 8.8-12.0
Weaner pen 0.3-0.5 0.3-0.5
Fattening pigs 0.9-1.2 0.9-1.2
Dry sow/gilt 1.0-1.5 1.0-1.5

Temperature requirements of different categories pigs, should be taken care while designing pig sheds in a given locality. Animals exposing cold will be susceptible for many diseases and their growth rate will also be poor.

Climate condition required in Pig Husbandry:

Type of animal Live weight of Pigs(kg) Comfort temperature (OC)
Suckling Pigs <2 32
<5 28
Weaners <8 28
<10 26
10-15 22
Growers 15-30 20
Finishers 30-60 18
60-120 16
Pregnant Sows Feed restricted 18
In groups on straw 15
Lactating sow 16
Boars 18


Feed requirement depends upon the types of pig reared i.e. dry or pregnant, boar, lactating sow, grower or finishers. For finishers, adlibitum feeding is practised. Boiled grasses, roots, tubers, kitchen waste can substitute up to 50% of finisher/fattener pig feed without much effect on growth. Fish or poultry waste intestinal parts of the farm or obtained from local market can be boiled before feeding, which will be a very good animal protein source for pigs. Feeding should be done at frequent intervals in small quantities to minimize the residual feed and thereby will reduce digested problems.

Health care

Pigs often suffer from diseases like swine fever, swine plague, swine pox and may be infested with parasites. Regular vaccination especially against swine fever must be done at regular interval. Regular deworming at least at 3 months interval will reduce the worm load and will increase the growth rate of pigs. Regular cleaning of pig sties keep the pig healthy and disease free. It is always advisable to use separate shoe while working in the pig sties.

Table. 4. Vaccination schedule of Swine :

Disease Vaccination/Manufacturer Dose Route Age
Hemorrhagic septicemia HS vaccine(VBRI) 5ml s/c 6 months
F&M disease Multi strain(Hoechst) 5ml s/c 1 month
Swine fever IVRI vaccine 1ml s/c 3 months
raisedpig1 raisedpig2

Harvesting of Fish

Keeping in view the size attained, prevailing market rate and demand of fish in the local market, partial harvesting of fish is done. After harvesting partially, the stock is replenished with the same number of fingerlings. Final harvesting is done after 12 months of rearing. Fish yields ranging from 6000-7000kg/ ha/yr is generally obtained. The pigs attain slaughter size (70-80kg) within 6-7 months.

Integrated Fish cum Duck Farming

Raising ducks over fishponds fits very well with the fish polyculture system, as the ducks are highly compatible with cultivated fishes. The system is advantageous to farmers in many ways:

  • Ducks fertilize the pond by their droppings when given free range over the pond surface. Ducks have been termed as manuring machines for their efficient and labour-saving method of pond manuring, resulting in complete savings on pond fertilizer and supplementary fish feed which accounts for 60 per cent of the total cost in conventional fish culture.
  • Ducks keep water plants in check.
  • Ducks loosen the pond bottom with their dabbling and help in release of nutrients from the soil which increase pond productivity.
  • Ducks aerate the water while swimming; thus they have been biological aerators.
  • Duck houses are constructed on pond dikes; hence, no additional land is required for duckery activities.
  • Ducks get most of their total feed requirements from the pond in the form of aquatic weeds, insects, larvae, earthworms, etc. They need very little feed, and farmers normally give kitchen wastes, molasses and rice bran, for the purpose.

Duck husbandry practices


First week: 29-32oC and then subsequently reduced @ 3oC/ week till it reaches 24oC.

Floor space

Age in weeks Floor space sq.ft/bird
1 -2 1.0
2-3 1.5
3-4 2.0
4-5 2.5
6-8 4

Ducklings are allowed to go to the running area after 4 weeks. Under range system 2000 birds can be reared in one acre. Under semi-intensive system 2.5- 3 sqft/bird is allowed at night and 10-15 sqft/bird for day time. The egg production starts from 16-18 weeks onward. One laying box/ 3 duck is needed.


Straw makes good litter. Require more space, natural day light and good ventilation. Litter should be dried frequently. Water for swimming is not at all necessary but a pool, provides exercise, promotes health, keep the eyes, bill and vent clean.


Ducklings do not readily learn to eat. Extra care, even hand feeding may be required in first two day. Ducks prefer wet mash due to difficulty in swallowing. Ducks should never have access to feed without drinking water. Layer requires 120-170 gm feed/day/bird.


  1. Duck plague (duck virus enteritis) : vaccine at 8 weeks
  2. Duck cholera (Pasteurella multocida): vaccine at 4th & 16th week
  3. Aflatoxicosis : very susceptible
  4. Botulism: C-type antitoxin may be given to the affected birds

Duck Rearing under IFS

Egg laying by ducks depends upon many factors, including breed and strain, but good management contributes considerably towards the achievement of optimum egg-flesh production.

The ducks do not need elaborate housing since they remain in the pond most of the day. A low cost night shelter made of bamboo or any other cheap material should be available in the area either on the pond embankment or on the water surface. The house should be well-ventilated and so designed that the washings are drained into the pond. About 30 ducks are sufficient to fertilize a pond of 1000 sq.m.; this number only needs a (house) floor area of 13 to 14 m2. About 3-4-months old ducklings are kept on the pond after giving them necessary prophylactic treatment and safe guarding measures against epidemics. The ducks can find natural food from the pond. They will need very little supplementary feed which can come from household wastes, such as kitchen leftovers, rice bran, broken rice and spoiled cereals, if any. Alliteratively, a balanced feed may be purchased and given at 50 g/bird/day along with kitchen waste. Moldy feed or feed kept for long time should be avoided as molds contain toxins which may cause poisoning. The ducks start laying at the age of 24 weeks. Laying boxes with straw may be kept in the duck house. Proper sanitation and health care are very important to maintain a healthy stock. The sick bird should immediately be isolated and treated. The eggs are collected every morning as the ducks lay eggs only at night. The ducks lay eggs for two years, after which they should be culled.

Vaccination schedule for Duck

Sl NoName of the vaccineRouteDoseAge of Ducks
1 Duck Cholera (Pasteurellosis) Subcutaneous Ducklings: 1ml

Adults : 2 ml
3-4 weeks

After one month of last vaccination
2 Duck Plague Subcutaneous Adults :1 ml 8-12 weeks

Fish rearing is same as explained in the previous section.

Integrated Chicken-Fish Farming

Chicken raising for meat (broilers) or eggs (layers) can be integrated with fish culture to reduce costs on fertilizers and feeds in fish culture and maximize benefits. Chicken can be raised over or adjacent to the ponds and the poultry excreta recycled to fertilize the fishponds. Raising chickens over the pond has maximizes the use of space, saves labour in transporting manure to the ponds. Fish-poultry integration is done in two ways. One way is to install the coops directly over the pond surface so that the droppings fall directly into the pond. The other way is to make deep litter poultry coops and recycle it into fish ponds daily @ about 50 kg/ha. The deep litter system is generally preferred because as compared to poultry droppings, the fully built up litter has about three times high manurial value. Normally, 500 to 600 birds are needed to meet the fertilizer requirements of 1.0 ha pond.

About 2 weeks old chicks are used to produce two batches of broilers or 4.5 to 5.5 months old chicks are used to raise laying hens which will be reared for 12 to 18 months for production of eggs. This system results in the production of 4500 to 5000 kg fish, about 70,000 eggs and 1000 kg (live weight) of chicken meat is obtained from 1.0 ha water area in one year without the use of any supplementary fish feed or pond.

Important points for chicken rearing

  • Dual purpose poultry birds are of good choice for Integrated Poultry cum fish farming.
  • Brooding should be done in separate shed.
  • It is better to use deep litter system of management instead of construction slatted floor over the pond.
  • Follow the vaccination and deworming schedule.
  • Don’t allow formation of cake in litter-turn at least once a day.
  • Use separate shoes to enter to the shed.
  • Provide good laying nest to get clean egg.
  • Discourage visitors to the farm.
  • Maintain 14 hr light and 10 darkness schedule for layer.
  • Provide enough calcium to layer.
  • Maintain good record of egg production and other farm records.

Vaccination Schedule for Layer:

Sl NoAge Type of vaccines Route of Vaccination
1 1 Day Mareks disease vaccine (HVT strain) Subcutaneously or intraperitonealy.

Hatchers release chicks only after Mareks Disease vaccination.
2 5th Day Ranikhet disease vaccine (F strain or Lasota) Intranasal or Intraocular. Maternal antibodies will neutralize vaccine virus when administered on the first day. Better do it on the 5th day.
3 3rd Week (18-21 days) Gumboro disease vaccine (Live strain) Intraocular or drinking water method. Maternal antibodies will be present in chicks up to 2-3 weeks. So vaccinate only on 20th day.
4 4th week Ranikhet disease vaccine(F strain or Lasota) Booster dose Intranasal or Intraocular
5 8th week Ranikhet disease vaccine(Living R2B strain or Mukteswar strain) 0.5ml Subcutaneously
6 9th week Fowl Pox vaccine (living-FPT) Wing web Puncture
7 15th week Ranikhet disease vaccine

(Living R2B strain or Mukteswar strain) Booster dose
0.5ml Subcutaneously
8 16th week Fowl Pox vaccine

(living-FPT) Booster
Wing web Puncture
9 42nd week Ranikhet disease vaccine

(Living R2B strain or Mukteswar strain) Booster dose
0.5ml Subcutaneously

Vaccination Schedule for Broiler:

Sl NoAge Type of vaccines Route of Vaccination
1 1 Day Mareks disease vaccine

(HVT strain)
Subcutaneously or intraperitonealy.

Hatchers release chicks only after Mareks Disease vaccination.
2 5th Day Ranikhet disease vaccine

(F strain or Lasota)
Intranasal or Intraocular. Maternal antibodies will neutralize vaccine virus when administered on the first day. Better do it on the 5th day.
3 3rd Week (18-21 days) Gumboro disease vaccine (Live strain) Intraocular or drinking water method. Maternal antibodies will be present in chicks up to 2-3 weeks. So vaccinate only on 20th day.
4 30th day Ranikhet Disease vaccine(F strain or Lasota) booster dose Intranasal or Intraocular

Integrated Fish farming-cum-Cattle farming

Among all the excreta from livestock, the amount of excreta of cattle is the greatest and most stable. Cattle dung, urine as well as the washing of cattle shed have superb manurial value. The waste cattle fodder can also be utilized as fish feed. The cattle shed can be constructed on the widen embankment of fish pond itself, so the waste and washing are directly drained in to the fish pond. 5-6 cattle will suffice for 1.0 ha pond.

Integrated Fish farming-cum-Rabbit fanning

In rabbit-fish integration, rabbit-house is built alongside the embankments so that the wastes and washings are drained directly into the pond. The excreta provided by 300-400 rabbits is sufficient to fertilize 1.0 ha of pond. Fish yields to the tune of 3500 to 4000 kg are obtained by stocking 15,000 fingerlings/year/ha.

Integrated Fish farming-cum-Agriculture

Fish farming-cum-Horticulture farming

Generally, to meet the daily needs of fruits for a family of 4-5 members a land space of about 200 m2 is needed. Normally, embankments of a fish pond provide more than 200 m2 area. Pond bunds account for 25 to 33% of farm area. By growing fruits and vegetables on pond bunds, a farmer’s family not only can meet its daily requirements of fruits and vegetables but can also earn additional income. When banana or coconut is cultivated in rows in wetlands, the ditches made between such rows act as supply or drainage canals. These canals serve as fish culture systems owing to their round the clock supply of water and rich insect populations. Some fish species such as Channa marulius, C.strialus, common carp and tilapia are ideal species for culture in this system.Among fruit crops, banana, papaya and coconut are the best. Lemon, guava are also good fruits for growing on pond embankment.

Fish farming-cum- Vegetable farming

Usually a land space of about 200 sq.m. is needed for kitchen gardening and embankments of a fish pond provide more area than this. In a year, two crops of vegetables can be grown. The vegetables which are considered ideal for growing on pond embankments are bitter guard, lady’s finger, bottle gourd, brinjal, lobia, cucumber, french beans, pumpkin, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, palak, etc.

Pond embankment can also be used for growing crops of pulses and oil seeds. Various types of flowers like marigold rose, jasmine etc. can also be grown on pond embankments. The different crops give strength and stability to the pond embankment, prevent soil erosion and do not allow pond water to turn unduly turbid. The pond contribute to the system by supplying humus which is dragged out from the pond after each harvest. Humus acts as rich source of fertilizers for crops.


There are always integrations at different levels in the existing family farming system practiced by the small holding farmers in the region. Inculcation of scientific approach like integrated precision farming in management of different components will not only improve resource use efficiency in existing production system but will also help to climb up a step towards sustainability of small holder family farming production system in future by mitigating its negative on environment through proper recycling of nutrients.

Source: Central Agriculture University Farm Magazine

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