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Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association demands government drop notification on cage requirements

The association said that an immediate switch to new systems will not be feasible and protein availability will reduce.

12 June 2019, at 10:32am

The Karnataka Poultry Farmers and Breeders Association (KPFBA) has urged the Government of India to immediately drop the notification called "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (egg-laying hens) Rules 2019" as it would have an "adverse impact" on the entire poultry sector with both the organised and unorganised poultry farmers ending up giving up poultry farming, in due course of time.

The rules by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare are to take effect early in 2020. As per the rules, the size of the cages for poultry should not be less than 550cm2 per bird and 6-8 birds per cage; use of antibiotics only for therapeutic use and under the supervision of a veterinarian; regular inspection of poultry farms by authorised personnel, who should follow proper bio-security protocols etc. The poultry sector has been given 5 years to switch over to new systems.

The KPFBA President, K.S. Akhilesh Babu said,“ The entire poultry farming community is of the opinion that it will not at all be feasible to implement the notification.” The KPFBA has sought more time to switch over to new cage systems. This view has been endorsed by the Director of the Central Avian Research Institute of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), Dr A.B. Mondal, who in a letter to the government has said there has to be "relaxation of at least 15 years" for the farmers to switch over from old cages to new ones. He has cited that the majority of poultry farmers would have taken loans to install cages and asking them to switch over now would be further burdening them.

Mr Akhilesh Babu added: “The non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which have lobbied for the ban of cages have painted a very wrong picture of the poultry sector. Healthy birds mean healthy business for poultry farmers and they have been continuously improving practices in farms to [maintain] hygiene and other conditions. Bird losses for a farmer means loss of livelihood, hence the poultry farmer takes care of his or her poultry.”

Poultry farming as per Indian climatic conditions

Mr Akhilesh Babu said, “Many poultry firms and farmers from Europe come to India to study our farm systems. They find the practices here are 'very good' and some of which they plan to replicate back home.” He added that “Research carried out in several countries has demonstrated that "enriched cages do not have the potential to meet many of the welfare requirements of hens or address key welfare concerns, now or in the future." The parameters recommended regarding space requirements, behavioural needs and other welfare concerns are based on studies conducted in temperate countries such as the European Union, which are not relevant in India. Further those countries are not production hubs; hence the parameters of EU are irrelevant to the Indian climatic conditions. Currently, even the most advanced countries like USA are not following [a] complete ban on cages.”