Poultry farmers in a double bind

Soaring feed prices amid low chicken prices cause losses

About 7-8 tonnes of lakh feed are needed each month by poultry farmers across the country. Photo: Amran Hossain


About 7-8 tonnes of lakh feed are needed each month by poultry farmers across the country. Photo: Amran Hossain

Poultry farmers, who have already been hit hard by the pandemic, are struggling to survive due to the low prices of chicken currently prevailing in the market coupled with a sharp increase in feed prices.

Farmers who operate small and medium-sized farms are in the most critical situation as they have no way of recovering the losses suffered since the start of the coronavirus epidemic in March 2020.

Shahid Hossain Mithu, a poultry farmer who raised 5,000 chickens in Jashore, said he spent 165 Tk on average to feed each broiler that gained weight to reach two kilograms (kg) within 36 days of hatching.

“It costs Tk 35-40 to buy chicks from breeders, but as adult chickens currently sell for Tk 95-100 per kg, I must have expected a loss of around Tk 5-10 per bird.” , he added. .

Several farmers said the high price of feed and low price of chicken were the main reasons for their losses.

This is especially true for farmers with small-scale farms who cannot raise their own chicks or produce their own food.

In the past three months, the price of each 50kg bag of animal feed has risen twice by 13.6% to 2,500 Tk from 2,200 Tk, according to various farmers and food vendors.

Each month, around seven to eight tons of lakh feed are needed by poultry farmers across the country and, thanks to the current situation, many farmers with small and medium-sized farms are closing their doors.

During the pre-pandemic era, around six or seven million people were involved in poultry farming, said Dr Anwarul Haque Beg, professor in the poultry science department at Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University.

While there are no exact figures on the number of farmers who have closed their businesses to date, the number is certainly considerable.

On the other hand, large farms have been able to stay afloat and even earn additional profits to some extent, as they are involved in all facets of the industry, namely animal husbandry, feed processing. and the sale of whole or processed chicken.

In addition, since most of the raw materials and additives used in poultry feed are imported, supply chain disruptions induced by the pandemic have caused prices to skyrocket.

As a result, feed production costs have increased by 25% to 30% in the past three months, Beg said.

The price of corn and soybean meal, which make up 70-80% of animal feed, has increased by 50% to around Tk 30 and Tk 53 respectively since 2019, he added.

The price increase for corn and soybean meal represents 3-4 percent of current feed prices.

In June, the price of feed for broilers was around Tk 50 per kg while it is currently around Tk 53. Likewise, other types of food that previously cost between Tk 41 and Tk 46 per kg The same amount.

At the same time, the cost of producing broilers has increased by 9% over the past three years.

“So there is currently no profit in raising broiler chickens,” Beg said.

Md Rakibur Rahman, owner of Nahar Agro and chairman of the Bangladesh Herdsmen’s Association, said the price at which traders were buying the chicken from the farms was far below its production value.

“Farmers are not getting the expected prices due to lower consumption in the context of the Covid-19 situation and as farmers need fewer chicks now, many hatcheries have also closed”, a- he added.

More than eight crore of chickens are produced each month nationwide, while around 4.5 crore of eggs are produced each day.

Many feed mills are also closing due to high international raw material costs.

So, like poultry farmers, small feed mills also face heavy losses, causing them to shut down, Rahman added.

According to farmers and experts, it is necessary to ensure a fixed selling price for chicks, feed, broilers and eggs in line with production costs to ensure the survival of poultry farmers and feed mills. .

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