1 lakh chickens die mysteriously in Panchkula’s Barwala poultry belt

Poultry farmers’ body tries to play it down, authorities collect samples to know reason behind this high mortality
By Tanbir Dhaliwal, Panchkula
PUBLISHED ON JAN 03, 2021 09:46 PM IST

Over one lakh chickens have died mysteriously over the past few days at around 10 poultry farms in Panchkula’s Barwala belt, which is considered Asia’s second largest with daily production of more than 1 crore eggs.

While the poultry farmers’ association is trying to play it down, the authorities have sprung into action and collected samples to know the reason behind this “high mortality”. The report is expected on Monday.

Dr Anil Kumar, deputy director, animal husbandry and dairying department, Haryana, said: “There are 80-90 lakh poultry birds in over 110 farms located in Barwala belt. So far, over 1 lakh birds have died in 10-20 poultry farms.”

A team of experts from the department visited the farms on Saturday and collected 80 samples besides five carcasses, which have been sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, Jalandhar.

“We are expecting the report by Monday,” said Mukesh Kumar Ahuja, deputy commissioner, Panchkula, who held a meeting with Dr Anil Kumar on Sunday evening to take stock of the situation. Ahuja said the deaths have been reported from farms in Garhi Kotaha and Mouli villages.

‘Don’t panic, viral infection suspected’

Though the exact reason is not known, experts are suspecting it to be some viral infection.

“The mortality is on the higher side and there could be a few stress factors. First, it could be the winter season. But as the infection has spread to over 1 lakh birds, we are suspecting it to be some viral infection,” said Dr Kumar, adding that so far, there has been no report of any poultry worker getting infected.

“So, most likely, the infection is not the one that is transmitted to humans,” he said.

Meanwhile, Haryana Poultry Farmers’ Association, which has already suffered huge losses due to Covid-19, suspect extreme cold to be the reason behind the deaths.

“There is nothing to worry. There are nearly 1 crore chickens, of which just a lakh at 10-15 poultry farms have died. This is not a big number. It happened because of extreme cold or Ranikhet disease,” said Darshan Kumar, president of the association. He said the sales have not been impacted so far, and accused the villagers of blowing the issue out of proportion.

Dr Anil Kumar said: “I cannot recall the last time when these many birds had died. However, we are not suspecting anything worrisome for human health at this moment. There is no need to panic. We are awaiting reports.”

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