Covid shadow, avian flu fallout: Rising feed prices could hike rooster, egg costs

FOR THE poultry trade, the final one-and-a-half years have been nothing wanting catastrophic.

First, it was Covid, when costs of poultry merchandise collapsed on misconceived fears linking their consumption to the virus’ transmission. This was in February-March 2000, even earlier than the pandemic’s first wave and the nationwide lockdown that adopted.

Then got here the avian influenza outbreak of January-February 2021, which hit gross sales simply when consumption was recovering. And after that disaster handed, the second Covid wave struck and compelled state-level lockdowns throughout April-June 2021.

But now, when restoration appears lastly underway, the trade is confronting a brand new disaster — an irregular spike in feed costs. Since March, costs of feed for egg-laying birds have doubled from about Rs 21 to Rs 43 per kg. These have gone up much more, from Rs 29 to Rs 50 per kg, for feed given to broiler birds raised for rooster meat.

With rooster feed costing almost as a lot as premium branded atta, the economics of poultry growers has taken a toss. “We are cutting down on sales and supply of new chicks to our growers. At current input costs, raising birds is a totally loss-making proposition,” says Waghole, common supervisor of the Satara-based Bhairavnath Poultry Farms Pvt. Ltd, which sells round 6 lakh broiler birds per thirty days.

“January-February was bad. The bird flu scare brought down realisations to Rs 56-57 per kg, as against production costs of Rs 75-77. In March, realisations improved to Rs 90/kg and, with costs at Rs 75, things were looking up. But the second wave of Covid spoiled our party and realisations fell to Rs 81/kg in April and Rs 70 in May,” he says.

What has flummoxed Waghole, although, is the continual improve in feed costs by the second wave and past. As broiler feed costs rose, the typical broiler manufacturing prices went up from Rs 75/kg in March to Rs 83 in April, Rs 92 in May and Rs 95-96 in June-July. To make up for the losses in April-May, Waghole’s farm raised its common sale value to Rs 88/kg in June and Rs 110 in July.

“We have reached a point where increasing prices is no longer possible, especially with the Shravan month (July 23-August 22) when many people don’t consume chicken and eggs. And feed costs aren’t showing any signs of softening,” he says.

Waghole’s firm is a poultry integrator that provides day-old chicks with feed and medicines to farmers. They rear the chicks weighing 35-40 gm into 2-2.5 kg birds over 40-45 days. The farmers are paid a hard and fast rearing cost of Rs 5.40/kg by the integrators, who take again and promote the market-ready birds.

Bhairavnath Poultry Farms alone offers with round 500 such farmers, principally in Maharashtra’s Satara and Pune districts. Among them is Ravi Babar from Kikali village in Satara’s Wai taluka. The 33–year-old grows sugarcane on his whole six-acre holding and maintains a 6,000-bird poultry farm. He has been related to Bhairavnath Poultry Farms for the previous 10 years, and does 5-6 cycles of rearing — every of 40-45 days plus 20 days of cleansing and relaxation — yearly for revenues of Rs 3.5-Four lakh.

“Apart from the money (farmers only have to bear labour, electricity and other incidental expenses), the droppings of the birds are excellent fertiliser for my cane crop,” he says. But Babar stands to lose on each counts if Waghole reduces and even stops placement of day-old chicks with him.

The important driver of rising feed prices has been soyabean. The de-oiled cake (DOC) obtained from it after extraction of oil is the primary supply of protein in rooster feed. Layer feed usually incorporates 15% DOC, 80% maize (for carbohydrate) and 5% nutritional vitamins, minerals, and so on. The DOC content material is extra in broiler feed (30%), with maize (65%) and nutritional vitamins/minerals (5%) accounting for the stability.

Ex-factory (soyabean processing plant) costs of DOC have risen from a median of Rs 35.50/kg in January to Rs 39.80 in February, Rs 45.20 in March, Rs 62.50 in April, Rs 65 in May, Rs 68 in June and Rs 97 in July. On Monday, DOC traded at an all-time-high of Rs 107/kg.

While the unprecedented surge is partly attributable to worldwide costs — the most-active soyabean futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade alternate has soared over 55% within the final one 12 months — Waghole is satisfied it has extra to do with hypothesis.

Even the Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA) has blamed the current value spike on extreme speculative trades on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX). On July 26, the Indore-based SOPA wrote to the NCDEX: “The soya processing and even the aqua culture/ poultry industry, which uses the end product i.e. soyabean meal, is suffering badly because of the excessive speculation,” it stated.

Earlier, the All-India Poultry Breeders and Farmers Association had known as for a whole ban on soyabean futures, in addition to demanding import of 20 lakh tonnes of DOC. Poultry birds, not like ruminants similar to cows, buffaloes and goats, can not simply digest DOC from groundnut, cottonseed or mustard.

The landed value of imported soyabean DOC would work to solely Rs 40 per kg. But not like the domestically manufactured DOC/meal, it incorporates genetically modified soyabean. “In any case, it is too late. By the time the imports arrive, our own soyabean will be ready for harvest. We hope that prices will soften when the new crop starts coming to the market from September,” says Waghole.

And with out soyabean costs softening, there are not any hopes of rooster and eggs turning extra inexpensive both.

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