LAHORE - SALMAN ABDUHU - The number of poultry farms in Punjab has dropped significantly to around 22,500 from 25,000 during last two years, as a large number of stakeholders have taken out their investment due to multiple reasons including ban on poultry export to Afghanistan, which is the largest market of Pakistan.

While talking to The Nation, Dr Akram Ch observed that chick farming has been suffering from the poor law and order situation, acute power shortages, high prices of poultry feed and scant resources to combat breakout of poultry diseases which killed thousands of birds in no time.

Doctor Akram has developed a technology of induced moulting and extended it to poultry farmers, providing the consultancy services at national and international levels to various layer, layer breeder, broiler breeder and grand parent companies.

Professor Akram is presently the Chairman of Department of Poultry Production, University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences and is amongst one of few whose research is linked with poultry industry. He is member of ASRB, UVAS and has been working as consultant in Action-aid international UK and FAUP.

“It is fact that Pakistan’s poultry industry is facing a lot of problems and challenges. In spite of that the sector is one of the largest and fastest growing agro-industries everywhere in the world just due to an increasing demand for poultry meat and egg products.”

Major problems facing the industry can be put in order by working on a few things, and adopting instructions set by poultry scientists. “If academia and poultry farmers sit together, share experiences and get guidance from various aspects of farming, then basic learning about farming can be accomplished by farmers, which is, presently done by the UVAS’s Poultry Production Department in Pakistan.”

Dr Akram said that poultry meat is an important protein source of our food. Its quality is pertinent to the quality of life of poultry birds. Chicken feeds come from many sources including, land marine, plants and animal products.

If you provide nutrient-rich feed to poultry birds and keep them healthy by keeping their housing clean and disinfected, you can harvest optimal disease-free meat. Although many factors are involved in achieving the optimal growth rate and size at harvest such as breed, gender nutrition, feeds, timely proper vaccinations and dry clean housing, most often it has been seen that farm workers are responsible for disease in the flocks. He said that with a view to minimise such risks, there should be authorised entries into sheds, use of disinfected footwear and equipment, and clean feeder and water. The use of antibiotic and other drugs for poultry should be governed by laws and regulations. Stress level of birds can be reduced through proper feeding, suitable bedding such as sawdust, husks and a fear-free environment. He said that poultry industry can be better and more profitable if it is operated scientifically.

Despite a decline in the number of poultry farms, the average farm production of poultry birds has been going up, as chicks population have soared to almost 710 million this year from about 390 million of 2010, he added.

This has provided relief to consumers against a sharp increase in prices of red meat owing to its increasing exports. He stated that poultry production in traditional rural set-ups is also being gradually modernised, as farmers’ income has improved on the back of high support prices of their crops.

But some investment has also come in from abroad, basically in the shape of technical support to poultry feed mills and hatcheries. He said that if the super floods of 2010 had not destroyed number of farms we could have noticed a big difference in the number of farms now in operation.

Latest data shows that banks made net loans of Rs4 billion in 2011 to poultry sector and distributed loans of around Rs3 billion in 2012. He said that poultry farms in Sindh have particularly benefited from bank loans in last two years but total financing has fallen short of their actual needs.