Story in Pictures

Facing the heat

The record heat wave singeing the country has caused bird deaths in the millions resulting in poultry price hikes

Vishal Koul

The month of May is usually hot, but this year, the weather has been exceptionally scorching. In early June, as the mercury relentlessly hovered above 40o C in most parts of west India, there were many casualties in humans as well as livestock. The heat wave killed more than 17 million birds in May alone. The bird mortality rate, usually at about 2-3% in the summer, soared to about 10% this year, and the prices for broiler chicken have skyrocketed as well. As a result, wholesale chicken prices in western India jumped to a record ₹95 per kg, an increase of 35% in a month. Poultry farmers, earlier in the year, had reason to celebrate when the beef ban increased demand for chicken. But now, according to the Poultry Federation of India, the industry has incurred a loss of over ₹100 crore during this period, and many farms have even shut operation as the business was no longer viable. With the upcoming June heat set to make matters worse, it may be time to count your chickens, after all.