Extinction Threat to India's Country Chicken

INDIA - The indiscriminate culling of country chickens in the wake of the bird flu outbreak in the state might soon lead to their disappearance or even extinction, warn scientists and experts, reports The Times of India.
calendar icon 22 January 2008
clock icon 3 minute read
Their number has already dwindled alarmingly and their sales have gone down to just 15% of the total number of chickens sold in the state. More than one lakh country chickens have so far been culled at Birbhum, South Dinajpur and Murshidabad.

The killing of chickens threatens to destroy their gene bank in India, experts said. "There are 17 varieties of country chickens in India. From them, thousands of new breeds can be developed that would be better than broiler chickens. The way they are being culled, we run the risk of wiping out a few varieties. Even if that doesn’t happen immediately, it is a possibility since birds are being culled due to flu outbreaks almost every year," said Barun Roy of West Bengal University of Animal and Fisheries Sciences, a member of the expert team that supervised culling in Rampurhat.

Experts also pointed out that the culling has affected rearing chicken in the backyard — the only source of country chickens. Farmers have started backing away fearing losses. While the sale of chickens dropped by 30% following the flu scare in 2007, this time they have plummeted by over 60%. Every day, the poultry industry in Bengal is losing Rs 7 crore. "While the organised farms are in a better position to recover, the country chicken farmers have to just give up the trade. So, every time flu strikes, country chickens are pushed a step towards extinction," explained Roy.

For the full story The Times of India
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