Dhaka,  Sunday
19 May 2024

Heatstroke wreaks havoc on Barishal poultry farms

Approximately 5,000 broiler chickens die across 617 farms 

M. Miraj Hossain, Barisal

Published: 08:30, 18 April 2024

Heatstroke wreaks havoc on Barishal poultry farms

Deceased chickens being packed at a poultry farm in Barishal. Photo: Messenger

The scorching heatwave sweeping across the country has dealt a severe blow to the poultry farming sector in the Barishal region, plunging farmers into a crisis as broiler chickens succumb to heatstroke in alarming numbers. In this situation, farmers are in fear of major losses.

Despite desperate efforts, including first aid measures and constant spraying of water in farms, the relentless heat has proven fatal for thousands of birds, leaving farmers grappling with unprecedented losses.

Reports reveal a staggering toll on the poultry population, with approximately 5,000 broiler chickens having died in 617 farms across the district within a span of just a few days. Kalam Shikdar, leader of the Poultry Chicken Farm Owners Organization, lamented the grim reality, citing casualties from prominent farms like Mustafa Poultry Feed, Sikdar Poultry Feed, and Shahid Poultry Feed in the Amanatganj area of Barishal city.

While Barishal has been relatively spared from electricity load shedding, the intensifying heatwave has emerged as a formidable adversary for poultry farmers, claiming the lives of birds due to heat-related stress. Yusuf Hossain, a prominent wholesale and retail chicken trader, noted that despite ample supply, dwindling demand has exacerbated the situation.

According to Hossain, broiler chicken prices have remained stable, with Tuesday's market rate hovering at Tk 230 per kg, a marginal increase from the farmers' purchase price of Tk 200. However, the muted demand underscores the prevailing consumer sentiment, contributing to the economic strain felt by poultry producers.

Farmers assert that it's not merely heatstroke but the relentless heatwave exacerbating conditions like slimy stools in broiler chickens. Affected birds exhibit weakness, despite routine vaccination and medication protocols, highlighting the challenge's persistence. This predicament stems from the prolonged exposure to excessive heat, undermining the effectiveness of conventional remedies.

Dr. Abu Sufian, Director of Barishal Divisional Livestock Directorate, shed light on the structural composition of the local poultry industry, comprising 1,608 chicken farms, encompassing broiler, layer, and golden chicken farms. Despite proactive measures outlined by the division, including guidelines for mitigating heat stress such as frequent water spraying and bark chaat soaking, the unexpected surge in poultry mortality has caught authorities off guard.

Dr. Sufian emphasized the importance of timely communication regarding emerging challenges, stressing the need for enhanced coordination between field officers and farmers to address the evolving crisis effectively.

As Barishal grapples with the devastating repercussions of the ongoing heatwave on its poultry farming sector, concerted efforts are imperative to alleviate the plight of farmers, safeguard livelihoods, and ensure the resilience of the local agricultural economy. In the face of escalating climate-related risks, proactive measures, community engagement, and institutional support are pivotal in building resilience and fostering sustainable agricultural practices for the future.

Amid the unfolding crisis, stakeholders must prioritize adaptive strategies and resource mobilization to bolster the resilience of Barishal's poultry industry. Enhanced research and development initiatives are crucial for identifying heat-tolerant poultry breeds and implementing climate-smart practices to mitigate future risks.

Through concerted action and strategic investments, Barishal can emerge stronger, ensuring the long-term sustainability and viability of its poultry farming sector amidst evolving climatic realities.