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Duck Farmers Hit by Feed Shortage, Heat-Wave

by 5m Editor
6 May 2009, at 8:30am

KERALA, INDIA - Poultry farmers are struggling against feed shortages and such high temperatures that some of their ducks die every day.

The Hindu reports that poultry farmers in the Alappuzha district of Kerala are going through tough times as the result of a feed shortage and scorching heat. In Kuttanad region, farmers say that at least five to eight fowl die every day due to heat.

Usually the ducks are left free in the paddy fields filled with water after harvest to feed on the leftover rice grains.

But according to Mr Chellappan, who manages around 25,000 ducks on the paddy fields near Kainakary Junction, the rising temperature is turning the water hot, thus affecting the ducks.

"Many of them become weary by noon and by evening, we can find the dead ones floating on the water," he said. The deaths severely affect duck farmers whose input costs on an unprecedented high this year. The rise in the price of poultry feed has jacked up the input costs, according to Mr Chellappan.

"Earlier, we could take a paddy field on rent, by paying around 20,000 rupees (INR) for five days, and be assured of enough feed since the ducks can eat the leftover grains after harvest. But now, the usage of combine harvester machines has seen to it that very little grain is left on the field, which means that the ducks have less feed. We have to buy feed from shops now, and that is a costly affair," he explained.

Most of the three-month-old ducks here, which command prices of INR 130 to 140 per bird, include those brought from Thrissur, Pathanamthitta, Madurai and a few other places in Tamil Nadu.

As if the feed shortage and the searing heat are not enough, the farmers are worried over what will happen when the rains come.

"Last year, the change in climate led to the death of many ducks as they caught fever," says Thankachen, who operates a small duck stall near the Alappuzha-Changanassery Road, apart from running a wholesale duck centre directly from the fields.

"The government had promised they would pay compensation for dead fowl. But nothing of that sort has happened so far," he told The Hindu.