Most Male Chicks Culled

BHUTAN - A report on the culling of male breeder chicks after hatching.
calendar icon 8 November 2011
clock icon 4 minute read

National Poultry Development Centre In the poultry business, which is hatching all across the country to meet local demand for white meat and eggs, there is no place for the male chick.

Kuensel Online reports that, at the national poultry development centre (NPDC) in Sarpang, which hatches and distributes day-old chicks to farmers and poultry farms, the male chicks are considered surplus requirement, and exterminated a day or two after they emerge from the shell.

As of 3 November, the centre had produced about 668,142 layer day-old chicks, of which only 334,071 were female and supplied to farmers. The rest 334,071 were male and were scientifically destroyed.

Once the eggs hatch, the chicks are placed on to a conveyor belt system to be sexed and sorted, from where the male chicks are immediately discarded or gassed, and thrown into macerating machines that kill instantly.

While the females survive this initial process, their heads are placed into machines that automatically clip away the ends of their beaks and inoculate them against disease. That is done to ensure the birds do not peck and injure each other.

NPDC programme manager, Tshewang Tashi, said the centre currently raises about 9,000 parent stocks (female and male) of the New Zealand imported breed known as Hyline Brown. The eggs produced are hatched in incubators.

"We put three eggs in the hatchery to produce one female bird, because the possibility of getting male chicks to female chick is 50 per cent," Tshewang Tashi explained. "If the chick turns out to be male, we destroy it."

Livestock officials said that it was not economical to rear the Hyline Brown breed of male chicks for other economic purposes, like meat, because of its poor feed conversion ratio (FCR).

"It can be used as roosters for cross breeding in villages, but the numbers produced at the farm are so huge, even villagers don't want it," Tshewang Tashi said. "With the introduction of the meat type breed (broiler) of chickens, farmers hardly prefer to rear male Hyline brown chicks," another poultry attendant said.

The broiler chicks, which were reared for its meat, come from another New Zealand imported breed known as Ross 308. To date, Tshewang Tashi said that they have produced and supplied 203,542 broiler chicks to farmers.

NPDC officials said the only solution to stop killing the male chicks would be by depending on import supply.

As per NPDC's record, the egg import has reduced by about 65 per cent because of farmers rearing poultry and production of day-old chicks at the centre. Bhutan has an estimated demand of 26 million eggs annually. This year, as of November, only six million eggs were imported from India.

“People should be aware of difficulty faced in producing chicks, technically and socially," Tshewang Tashi told Kuensel Online. "On a personal level, it's tough creating a balance between your profession and religion."

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