Poultry hazards

(Hina Ashraf, Karachi)

Poultry sector is one of the most organized branches of the agro based sector of Pakistan. Its growth rate is 10-12% per annum. There are over 20000 poultry farms spread deep into the rural areas across the country. 40-45% of the total meat consumption is being produced from poultry products.

In poultry farming industries, millions of chickens and other birds are raising, breeding, and slaughtering to collect their eggs and harvest their meat. But have you ever think about that how these chickens and birds are raised in the poultry farming industries?

Poultry are kept all over the world for various reasons. They are one of the cheapest sources of meat and can be kept by anyone, even in backyards. In Asia poultry are kept by large commercial farmers for meat or egg production, by smaller farmers and by households in backyards. Two very important factors that should be addressed to ensure that you have a healthy flock of chickens are management and environment. When chickens are healthy they eat less food and produce more meat and eggs. They are less trouble to look after and less money is spent on medical costs. A disease can spread rapidly among chickens because they are usually kept together in a cage or chicken house. They also share the same food and water bowls, which can spread disease and infections from sick to healthy chickens. In an intensive system we place a great deal of pressure on the chickens to grow fast and to lay many eggs. This situation can cause disease to spread resulting in a lot of damage because of the stress the chicken’s experience.

Spreading of diseases are increasing day by day due to chicken and the reason behind it the mismanagement of poultry systems in Pakistan. In poultry farming industries, infectious chickens and healthy chickens both are kept together in a small battery cage. This can lead in spreading of diseases in healthy chickens and battery cage are so small that the chickens are unable to stand up or spread wings properly.

Some of the common diseases are spreading due to chickens are e.coli, salmonella, diarrhea, rotavirus and Newcastle.

The Newcastle disease is one of the main viruses killing chickens at these farms. It spreads when the weather changes from summer to winter and is a contagious disease that affects chickens’ respiratory systems. The virus causes water to build up in the chicken’s lungs and they become lethargic. Most stop eating all together.

Dr Amin Soomro, a research officer at the Sindh Vaccine Centre in Karachi, said, “This disease is spreading from the feed and chicks”. He explained that the vaccines available to curtail the disease are not up to the standard. Vaccines are used to prevent the virus from spreading but there is no guarantee that the vaccines are effective. Sometimes, it prevents the virus and sometimes it doesn’t. “There are no government laboratories to test the standard and effectiveness of vaccines,” he said.

When a single chick is infected, it spreads very quickly and farmers can lose their whole flock in a matter of a few days, causing a huge loss. The virus can infect a flock within 24 hours. A flock is comprised of between 5,000 and 10,000 chickens.

Infected chickens should be disposed of properly to avoid the disease from spreading but poultry farm owners aren’t taking enough care. “Dead chickens which are not buried can affect an area of up to six kilometres,” he added.

Poultry farm owners often dump the dead chickens in sacks and toss them along the side of the road. But this irritates people living nearby, because they can smell the chickens’ bodies.

Dr Soomro told that if a person eats a chicken infected with Newcastle disease, it won’t affect them directly. The problem is when infected chickens’ bodies are dumped in open areas. The bacteria pollutes the environment, which can cause skin diseases, eye problems and breathing problems.

Around 70% of the chickens supplied to Karachi are from poultry farms in Thatta and Sujawal and the price of chicken in the city has gone up to Rs120 per kg because of this.

Newcastle disease is not new to Sindh. Recently, peacocks started dying in Thar because they were also infected.

When the infected chicken are died, the poultry farmers sold the death chickens in the market just to recover their losses of the farm. These infected and death chicken cause serious diseases in human.

Government of Pakistan should also focus on this sector because it is also a part of our economy. Government should take an action against these farmers who are sold the death chicken in the country, this is an unethical practice in our country.

Government should develop new research laboratories and research centers in different areas of Pakistan for testing of chickens before importing chicken from other countries.

 

Disclaimer: All information is provided here only for general health education. Please consult your health physician regarding any treatment of health issues.
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