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Poultry Owners Call for Chicken Feed Mill

by 5m Editor
23 January 2012, at 10:43am

BHUTAN - With poultry feed prices soaring, poultry farm owners in Trashigang of eastern Bhutan want to get help from the government to establish a chicken feed mill.

Feed prices are increased at the whims of the feed suppliers because of monopoly, poultry farmers said.

Asia News Network reports that the feed price increased to Nu 1,150 for 50 kgs in Trashigang from Nu 1,100 few years back. While the existing price of an egg has dropped to Nu 8.50 to Nu 9 from Nu 10-12 a few years ago.

"It is becoming costlier for us to buy chicken feed from Phuentsholing with prices increasing every few months," a poultry farm owner from Loongtenzampa, Namgyel Wangchuk said.

The owners said that with only around 60 per cent of the 100 birds laying eggs, buying feed from Phuentsholing has become expensive.

The investment per bird has also increased from Nu 3 to Nu 6 today. A chicken is fed 120 grams of feed a day, which means 36kgs a month.

Farm owners said a huge chunk of the little profit they make from the sale of eggs go into the feed.

The Dzongkhag Veterinary Hospital (DVH) also agreed that a chicken feed mill is now necessary for the six eastern dzongkhags. But unavailability of raw materials at affordable prices to open a viable feed mill could be a challenge, the hospital authorities said.

Maize, rice bran, soya bean, fishmeal and calcium are some of the required raw materials to process chicken feed. While maize is available in the villages, the rest would have to be imported.

The hospital said importing these raw materials would escalate the cost of production.

"Even if we open a chicken feed mill in Trashigang, it would be difficult to produce at a price cheaper than that of Karma Feeds in Phuentsholing," assistant livestock officer Norbu said.

Roughly local feed processing would cost Nu 18 a kilogram excluding power, labour and packaging costs.

"If all costs are included, the feed if processed in Trashigang would be costlier than the existing price of Nu 23 a kg," Mr Norbu said.

The veterinary hospital said the existing number of around 65,000 birds in the six dzongkhags cannot support a large-scale chicken feed mill. Trashigang has around 11,700 birds in 27 commercial farms and 18 poultry cooperatives.

Khangma Programme Facilitation Office's programme director Sangay said his office has turned down about three proposals to set up a chicken feed mill in Trashigang.

"A feasibility study by our technical committee found that opening a feed mill is not viable since most of the core ingredients have to be imported from India," Mr Sangay said.

The office would support only if all necessary ingredients are available within Bhutan.

However, a few farm owners are already working to set up a mini feed mill.

The rising prices are not only the concerns for poultry farmers. During summer, they run short of feeds because of roadblocks and recurring strikes in Assam, India.

Bringing the feed from a long distance also damages the feed quality effecting the birds' reproductive system. "Sometimes during rainy seasons we get lumpy feed, which affects the production of eggs in our farms," Mr Wangchuk said.