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Early Settlement in Bahrain's Chicken Dispute Expected

14 March 2014

BAHRAIN - A dispute over the quality of day-old chicks delivered to broiler growers, which has hit supplies of local chicken, is expected to end soon.

Poultry farmers protesting high mortality rate of chicks are optimistic their two-week strike will end on Sunday, reports Gulf Daily News.

They claim chicks they are supplied by the Delmon Poultry Company are often sick, weak and vulnerable and die within days.

It comes after they began receiving an increased number of day-old-chicks that were dying.

Farmers attributed the deaths to a new policy that essentially meant the company's hatchery would supply farmers more frequently in smaller quantities.

However, the company, which is Bahrain's main supplier of fresh chicken, has managed to address two major concerns following a meeting between farmers and Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi earlier this week.

The minister also pledged to inform His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa of the issue, said farmers' spokesman Jameel Salman, owner of Bahrain's biggest poultry farm, Al Safa.

"Before we used to get four deliveries of one-day-olds a week from the company, which was good but then they upped it to six and the chicks were dying and the level of hygiene at the hatchery dropped," he told the newspaper.

"The other big complaint is that one of the management that made the decision to change it from four to six should be held accountable.

"We are happy to say that the company has already reversed the decision and we are back to receiving chicks four times a week.

"Also we have been told that the person responsible for the decision has handed in his resignation which was also a demand."

Farmers will meet MPs on 16 March, seeking to implement regulation to ensure the company does not reinstate the policy.

Mr Salman said despite the company returning to the old policy, many farmers fear the changes will be made permanent.

"Hopefully by Sunday when we meet with MPs and the Prime Minister Prince Khalifa is informed the problems will be over," he said. "There are only a couple of small things left that we still want to be dealt with."

The farms buy day-old chicks from the company, raise them and then sell them back when they are ready for consumption.

The strike is still ongoing despite farmers being told to receive chicks earmarked for them for the next two weeks to avoid breaching their contracts.

At that point, they can then stop receiving hatchlings, which means there will be nobody to raise them and result in a shortage of fresh chicken in the market.

Professor Mohamad Foda, agricultural consultant to Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Under-Secretary Shaikh Khalifa bin Isa Al Khalifa previously told Gulf Daily News that Delmon Poultry would be inspected, following claims that a decline of safety and hygiene lead to the high mortality rate of the chicks. Delmon Poultry Company officials were unavailable for comment.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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