Broiler chickens piling up in Karnataka poultry farms

Laiqh A Khan

Broiler chickens have begun piling up in poultry farms across the State due to poor off-take in view of the lockdown declared by the Government to prevent spread of COVID-19.

Though an estimated 15 lakh live chicken gets ready for sale every day in the State at 20,000 poultry farms, where they are reared, the demand had come down drastically due to closure of hotels and restaurants, besides cancellation of marriages and other community gatherings.

The retail chicken shops, where the meat is available for purchase by consumers, also have a limited window period for sale – between 6 am and 10 am.

With the off-take of chicken from the poultry farms coming down drastically, leading to a pile-up of live birds, the Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association (KPFBA) has expressed concern over not only the financial consequences arising out of feeding the chicken for an extended period of time, but also the threat to the health of the birds.

KPFBA president Sushanth Rai, who has sought “urgent help” from the State Government to dispose off the “perishable” poultry products. He has urged the State Government, in a letter to the Commissioner to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences, to extend the window period for sale of chicken from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. to at least till 2 pm every day.

The production expenses incurred by the farmers includes the daily feed comprising of maize, soya and other raw materials, which cost about ₹30 crore per day in the State, he said. The piling up of chicken even for one day affects the production cycle as well as the economy of the poultry farms.

“If the bird stays in farm beyond the stipulated number of days, it continues to feed, adding to the cost of production,” said a source in KPFBA. Also, the price comes down with the age of the bird beyond a time.

Ramesh, wholesale chicken dealer from Mysuru, said he purchases birds that are 32 to 33 days old, weighing around 2.3 kgs. But, nowadays he was getting birds that were around 2.6 kgs to 2.8 kgs. Consumers prefer tender birds that are less than 2.3 kgs. Any increase in the weight of the bird will push the prices downward, he said.

He pointed out that the demand for chicken from the retailers had come down in the last few weeks. Apart from the short four-hour window period for sale of chicken, Mr Ramesh said he felt that the purchasing power of several people, particularly daily wagers, had taken a huge beating during the lockdown.

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