1. Animal Husbandry

Poultry Industry Worried as Chicken Feed Costs As Much As Branded Atta

M Kanika
M Kanika
Chicken Feed Costing
Chicken Feed Costing

Last one and a half years for the poultry industry have been nothing short of catastrophic. At first, it was Covid Pandemic, when the prices of poultry products collapsed on the misconceived fears linking their consumption to the virus transmission. And this was in February – March last year, even before the first wave of Covid Pandemic, followed by nationwide lockdown.

Then came avian influenza outbreak of January – February 2021, which hit the sales just when the consumption was recovering. And when the crisis passed, the second wave of Covid Pandemic came in and forced lockdown in Maharashtra during the month of April – June 2021.

Now, when the industry seems to be finally recovering, it has confronted a new crisis – an abnormal spike in the feed prices. Since March, the prices of feed for the egg-laying birds have doubled from Rs 21 to Rs 43 per kg. It has gone up even more than it was before, from Rs 29 to Rs 50 per kg, for feed given to the broiler birds have increased for the chicken meat.

Now the chicken feed is costing as much premium as the branded atta, the economics of poultry farmers have taken a toss. Dr. Shrilankeshwar Waghole, the general manager of Satara - based Bhairavnath Poultry Farms Pvt. Ltd, said, “We are cutting down on sales & supply of new chicks to our growers. At current input costs, raising the birds is totally loss-making proposition,”.The bird flu scare has brought down the realizations to Rs 56-57 per kg, as against production costs of Rs 75-77.

In March, the realizations have improved to Rs 90/kg and, with costs of Rs 75, things were looking up. But the second wave of Covid pandemic has spoiled our party & realizations fell to Rs 81/kg in April & Rs 70 in May,” he says. What has shocked Waghole, is the continuous increase in feed prices through second wave & beyond.

As the broiler feed prices went up, average broiler production costs increased from Rs 75/kg in the month of March to Rs 83 in April, Rs 92 in May & Rs 95-96 in June-July. To make up for the losses in the month of April to May, Waghole’s farm raised its average sale price to Rs 88/kg in June & Rs 110 in July. Even Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA) has blamed the recent price spike on excessive speculative trades at the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX). 

On 26th July, the Indore-based SOPA wrote to the NCDEX that “The soya processing & even aqua culture/ poultry industry, which uses the end product i.e. the soyabean meal, is suffering badly because of the excessive speculation”. Earlier, the All-India Poultry Breeders & Farmers Association had called for a complete ban on soyabean futures, besides demanding import of 20 lakh tonnes of DOC.

The poultry birds, unlike ruminants such as cows, buffaloes & goats, cannot easily digest DOC from the groundnut, cottonseed or mustard. The landed price of imported soyabean DOC would work for only Rs 40 per kg. But unlike the domestically manufactured DOC/meal, it contains genetically the modified soyabean.

Waghole says that “In any case, it is too late. By the time the imports have arrive, our own soyabean will be ready for the harvest. We hope that prices will soften when the new crop starts coming to market from September”. And without the softening of soybean prices, there are no hopes of chicken & eggs turn more affordable either.

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