Skylark Group expands feed production, seizes opportunity

Northern India-based poultry integrator Skylark Group plansto expand feed production to serve producers outside its vertically integratedoperations.

Skylark Group | Skylark Group operates five feed mills across Northern India.
Skylark Group | Skylark Group operates five feed mills across Northern India.

Skylark Group, a Northern India-based poultry breeder and hatchery, was started in 1985 in Jind, India, by Jagbir Singh Dhull and his partner, Jasbir Singh Deswal. Jagbir Singh, described as a “son of the soil,” rose from humble beginnings to become a self-made entrepreneur, entering the poultry business when a relative asked him to manage a small poultry farm in the 1970s. 

Today, Skylark Group has risen to become one of the largest vertically integrated poultry operations in India, boasting a diverse portfolio which includes grandparent stock, parent stock, hatcheries, broiler contract farming, feed production, poultry processing, large-scale mechanized farming and equipment fabrication.

According to the company, Skylark holds the “No. 1 position” among Indian poultry companies in terms of its production volume across North India. The company reports stocks of more than 1 million parents; a hatching capacity of more than 18 million chicks per month; and a monthly retention of five million broilers.

“Within a short span of time we have made a visible mark in these markets, and people know us as quality leader of Indian poultry industry,” says Jitender Singh, manager of sales and marketing, Skylark Group.

Overall, the company employs more than 2,000 employees across its network. 

Feed production today & in the future

In North India, the poultry feed business has become increasingly competitive as many domestic and international players enter the market. For this reason, despite having the capacity and technology to expand its feed production, Skylark held back on getting into the poultry feed business – until now.

“In an industry with wafer thin margins, and unhygienic trade practices, which many times lead to huge bad debts, the challenge was to build a sustainable business,” explains Jitender Singh. “Skylark’s commitment to quality – coupled with the benefit of having a greater understanding of the market and customers because Skylark’s more than 30-year presence in the market – have been the reasons for Skylark’s successful entry into the feed business.”

Operating under the name of Skylark Feeds Pvt. Ltd., the company currently operates five feed mills with two additional ones under construction. The five mills offer an installed feed capacity of 2,400 metric tons per day. Running three shifts a day, they produce both bagged and bulk feeds.

Skylark feed mills produce feed formulated for all age groups, i.e. grandparents, parents, broilers and layers. It also produces concentrates for export markets.

Today, Skylark produces 300,000 metric tons annually. However, once its two new feed mills become operational, its volumes will increase by 600 metric tons per day.

Skylark has the storage capacity sufficient to cater to a raw material requirement for the feed mills for three to four months of production.

The new mills will be located in two states of Northern India: Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

According to a company spokesman, “These new developments are on-going with most of the projects slated for completion in over the next year or so.”

Once the new feed mills are operational, 80 percent of Skylark’s feed production will be sold for use outside of the company.

Additional services

Skylark also operates an in-house nutrition lab equipped with NIR grain analyzer and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) testing. According to the company: “This laboratory not only tests the quality of the raw materials that go into our feed mills, it also provides testing services to other smaller farmers who operate smaller capacity feed mills around us. This helps them choose the right raw material for their mills and develop their business.”

“We engage with our suppliers to train them and to create awareness and quality systems on their end, so that they supply desired quality of raw materials,” JitenderSingh says. “Every batch of raw material is tested before it is off-loaded at storage or milling location. There is a robust system of monitoring of quality of raw materials during storage. Auto-batching helps in maintaining quality and consistency in feed milling. Every batch of feed produced is tested in laboratory before dispatch, and retention samples are kept stored in laboratory from all batches until the marked shelf life of the produce.”

The company’s goal is to promote best practices in poultry feed production so smaller producers can achieve better yields using less feed. 

Eyeing international markets

Since the Indian poultry market is crowded, faces severe competition and offers very narrow margins in most products, Skylark Group is planning an international expansion.

“The company has identified markets in other Asian countries and West and East Africa, where the company will be investing in the next five years,” Jitender Singh says. “Skylark is sure that our quality can make us enter in any market with ease.”

It has already established a feed manufacturing facility in Nepal.

According to the company website, such ambitions are not only driven “by the business opportunities, but also by the opportunity to serve geographies that are facing impoverished nutrition levels.”

Beyond his work with Skylark Group, Jagbir Singh’s contribution to the Indian poultry industry has been “tremendously appreciated,” as he serves on many poultry and non-poultry trade bodies in various capacities. For example, he is currently the chairman of the Poultry Federation of India.

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