Rising Temperatures Impact Poultry Meat Supplies, Leading to Surge in Prices

A sharp increase in mortality due to soaring temperatures and increased demand in the festive season has resulted in chicken prices soaring across South India. Prices, which were hovering around ₹200-250 a kg in February and March, have breached the ₹300-mark in all the Southern States now.

The poultry industry, which didn’t do too well in the November-December season considered to be the best season for poultry sales, is currently enjoying the moment. With Ugadi (Telugu New Year) and Ramzan festivals coming to a close this week, industry analysts expect the prices to cool down a bit.

The farm-gate prices are hovering around ₹120-135 a kg for live birds in different States.

Mortality rates

“The mortality rate of birds in the summer goes up to 20 per cent from 3-4 per cent during the winter season. Due to stress, the birds take more water than feed, leading to delays in reaching the ideal weight,” Suresh Chitturi, Chairman and Managing Director of Srinivasa Farms, told businessline.

Tamil Nadu Egg Poultry Farmers Marketing Society (PFMS) president Vangili Subramanian echoed a similar view. He said the birds were not consuming the feed due to the extreme heat. In addition, farmers hatching chickens are facing water shortage. As a result, the birds, which have to weigh 2 kg after 40 days, are underweight at 1.6-1.7 kg. Since the birds are underweight, retailers are not willing to pay. Live birds in Tamil Nadu cost ₹125 a kg, but production costs have also increased to  ₹110 from ₹95.

During summer, the mortality rate of the birds is two per cent but this year due to extreme heat, under the influence of El Nino, it is 10-15 per cent, he said.

With Tamil Nadu experiencing “large deficient” rainfall since the beginning of March, the western parts of the State — a hub for the poultry sector — is facing a shortage of water. Borewells can help but it takes 20-30 days for companies to begin digging them, Subramanian said.

TP Sethumadhavan, former director of Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, said increase in temperature from 37- 42 degree Celsius is causing heavy mortality of the birds. More than 50 per cent mortality was recorded in many of the broiler and breeder farms. This affects both the production of chicken and the availability of day-old chicks.

More than 35 per cent of broiler farmers are not rearing chicks due to extreme temperatures due to the mortality threat. The time to reach the ideal weight goes up by 7-8 days, increasing the cost of production, he said. Subramanian said it now takes 47 days to make the birds weigh 2 kg.

In Karnataka, the farm-gate prices have risen by over a third in April when compared to the previous month.

“Soaring temperatures have disrupted the supplies as the weight of birds goes down during the summer months. The prices may not sustain going ahead due to elasticity of demand,” KS Ashok Kumar of Maa Integrators.

Input costs rise

Due to the steady prices of key commodities such as maize and soyabean which account for a sizeable chunk of the feed costs, the cost of production for poultry players has largely ranged between ₹88 and ₹92 per kg, while the average farm gate prices in Karnataka stood at ₹79 per kg in January, ₹ 109 in February, ₹98 in March.

The last few months have been positive and April, May and June also likely to be positive, Kumar said.

Sethumadhavan said broiler chicken prices in the South are showing a significant jump over the last four weeks. Farm-gate prices also move up reaching more than ₹140 in Kerala, while dressed chicken rates are more than ₹250 a kg.

The rise in production cost coupled with heat stress started reducing the production to up to 60 per cent compared to previous years. This situation will continue and aggregate till monsoon, he added.

Binny Emmatty, President of Kerala Poultry Farmers and Traders Samithy, said prices have started moving up from mid-March. Kerala consumes one crore live chicken every week, with 50 per cent of the requirements are being met by supplies from other States.

Source: The Hindu Businessline