Drought takes toll on poultry sector

Summer is not a great season for the poultry industry. Oppressive heat, increase in feed costs and depleting groundwater levels tell on production.

This year’s drought in the southern States and transport strike have only added to the problems, resulting in a 20-25 per cent price drop.

The overall cost of production has gone up by 10 per cent, making it difficult to maintain healthy profit margins.

“The drought is manifested in depletion of ground water. The bore wells are slowly drying up. As the summer progresses, it will be tough arranging water for the farms,” Dr Ranjit Reddy, President of the Telangana Poultry Breeders’ Association President, told BusinessLine..

The strike by transporters is only adding to the woes. Poultry farms are finding it difficult to get feed, and send their eggs and broilers to the market, because of the transport strike. “For now, they are managing with the stocks in the farms nearby. If the strike lasts a few more days, it will be very tough for the farms,” said Reddy.

The State produces 3 crore eggs a day and 4 crore kg of chicken a month. “We see a drop of 10 per cent in production in layers at the end of March. The mortality rate of birds, which is generally at 2 per cent, has gone up to 10 per cent,” he said.

The farm gate prices of eggs have to ₹2.65 from ₹3.25 a month ago, and that of broiler chicken to ₹65 a kg from ₹85-88.

Subba Raju, who is a leader of the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC), said the farms are witnessing a loss of ₹5-7 a bird a month due to the increase in production costs.

Parallel situation

The situation is no different in Karnataka. The rise in temperature and water scarcity created by deficit rains over successive years have added to the woes of poultry farmers in the State, who are already battling rising production costs amid lower prices.

“The abnormal temperatures this year, which are higher by at least one degree over the normal, have resulted in higher mortality of the birds. As a result, the output could be lower by 5-6 per cent in Karnataka,” said Ashok Kumar KS, President of the Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association.

“The mortality of birds has risen to 15-20 per cent in parts of Karnataka bordering Maharashtra. We expect the mortality to go up in other parts of the State as temperatures are seen rising further,” he added.

Ashok Kumar further said the water shortage on account of depleting ground water table across the State has forced poultry players to reduce the numbers of birds placed. The erratic power supply has also impacted operations, resulting in higher production costs.

With the drought affecting the quality and quantity of maize crop in Karnataka, poultry players will now have to depend on arrivals from Bihar till the next crop comes up in the State. “This would mean higher production costs for us in the days ahead,” he added.

Besides the climatic vagaries, poultry players also face the threat of bird flu. “Bird flu is like a hanging sword on us,” Ashok Kumar said.

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