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Chicken producers declare hatching holidays

G. Gurumurthy

Move to bring down production of egg, chicken

This will mean that the total number of birds available for hatching or as live chicken will decline.

Coimbatore , March 28

Facing one of the worst market conditions for poultry products after last month's bird flu scare, the commercial poultry operators, particularly in Tamil Nadu, have initiated measures to bring down the chicken/egg production. The poultry operators hope this would partly help in the market recovery for poultry products and, at the same time, reduce the cost of raising the commercial birds.

The hatcheries run by the integrated poultry operators have restricted the number of commercial chickens to be released to the farms by declaring the `hatching holidays'. Under the hatching holidays, depending upon the market condition, the hatcheries use to stop hatching of chickens for minimum number of days so that the placement of chickens at the individual poultry farms would be correspondingly curtailed, which, in turn, will delay the release of commercial birds for sale in the market. The restricted hatchings are done by way of destroying the hatching eggs.

Effect in May

In the current spell, the hatcheries have put in place two weeks of holidays - one immediately after the reports of the bird flu hit the market during the last week of February and again this week. This would mean that the total number of birds available for either laying or as live chicken for consumption would be lessthan what their normal numbers will be next month and the month after i.e., May. "We have in the last 15 days not hatched for two weeks and this will lead to a straight 50 per cent reduction in the monthly placement of some 3.75 crore chickens for the southern markets,' said Mr M.R.I. Magdum, general manager (South Zone) of Sri Venkateswara Hatcheries Ltd who looks after the Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala markets.

Other curbs

Suguna Poultry Farm, another major player in the broiler segment has also resorted to reducing the broiler production with a string of hatching holidays, which will help the company to scale down its commercial broiler.

Suguna produces 40 lakh commercial birds every week and one week of halting hatching will mean this volume of birds will be missing from the market over the next three or four weeks time.

Mr Magdum said besides the hatching holidays, the other production restriction practices set in motion to ward off the market crisis include liquidation of bird stocks by early culling for both broiler and layer birds and forced `molting,' a practice aimed at drastically reducing the feed intake of the bird, which directly results in their not gaining the desired body weight (in the case of broiler chickens) or not laying eggs. Early culling of the parent birds are also being taken to contain the number of commercial chickens.

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