The image typically associated with poultry farming is that of caged birds. Happy Hens, however, aims at challenging this notion by giving its birds all the space they need. The Madurai-based poultry farming startup believes that healthy eggs are only possible when sourced from happy hens.
Eighty percent of India’s eggs come from caged hens. Happy Hens Founders Ashok Kannan and Manjunath, therefore, stand out for their interest in natural farming and love for animals.
Ashok lost movement in his legs to polio when he was hardly two years old. Hence, despite growing up with an ardent interest in farming, he never got to work on a field.
So in 2011, he started a poultry farm near Thiruchi with 1,000 naturally bred birds. As he had no prior experience, within 30 days, 200 were dead. He could not turn to anyone in his locality for guidance as even veterinary doctors were not aware of all the diseases that could affect hens.
If making sure they stayed alive was one problem, selling eggs that came from naturally bred hens was another challenge. With very limited knowledge of the subject, people were convinced that what Ashok was trying to sell wasn't natural at all. He says,
"Everyone started ridiculing me saying the eggs I was selling weren't from natural-bred hens."
It was at this time that he heard about Manjunath who was trying something similar in Bengaluru. After talking to him, Ashok realised that Manjunath was facing similar, if not worse, problems. As they both started helping each other out, the bond between them grew and eventually they became partners.
When the business was going through a bad phase, shampoo companies started asking them to sell their eggs. But both were determined to believe that people would one day see how Happy Hens could benefit them. As expected, they now sell 3,000 eggs across India on a daily basis. Talking about the reason behind their success to YourStory, Ashok said,
"As long as we don’t back away from a problem with the fear of losing, and fight back with the knowledge of what went wrong, we will definitely win."
Read this in Tamil.