Industry insiders say that vector-borne diseases and cases of low-pathogenic avian flu, fowl cholera, Newcastle disease, heat stroke and gumboro (infectious bursal disease) are promoted by higher temperatures in sub-tropical Bangladesh.
“It’s now becoming almost impossible to control temperature in shades,” said Munzur Murshid Khan, secretary general of the Dhaka-based Bangladesh Poultry Industries Association.
The Bangladesh Meteorological Department says that temperatures in the country rose 1-1.34C (Celsius) on average over the past century, with an annual average temperature of 25C, with monthly means between 18C in January and 29C in August. “Birds are suffering, their productivity is decreasing, mortality rate is increasing – we’re witnessing these,” Khan told GlobalMeatNews, referring to the impact of climate change. “People are forced to shift towards controlled house farming from open house farming.”
This may mean more investment, which is expected to generate major demands for capital within an industry that has been growing at a rate of 15% per year over the past 10 years in the past decade and has already attracted an investment of more than USD 3 billion over the same period, according to the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Coordination Committee (BPICC). This figure is expected to double by 2021, according to a committee projection.
Mehran Rahman, director at the integrated poultry producer Paragon Group Ltd, said his company installed ‘controlled’ house in the 1990s, which keeps farm air flow, cooling, temperature and humidity at the standard level. Poultry birds can tolerate temperatures up to 30C.
“In summer, we use cooling pads. We focus on inside temperatures and humidity during summer. This keeps heat normal,” he told GlobalMeatNews. He added that his managers have increased the use of vaccinations to ward off disease.
Smaller producers have also had to adapt. “In summer, they install insulation and in winter, they use curtains under the roof, [which also reduces heat],” Moshiur Rahman, convener of the BPICC, told GlobalMeatNews.
Researchers are developing techniques. SD Chowdhury, Professor of Nutritional Biotechnology at Bangladesh Agricultural University, in Mymensingh, north of Dhaka, is pioneering research to discover the “effective nutritional and biotechnological means” to combat the effects of heat stress and high humidity on poultry production.
“[The] climate is changing and will keep changing. We’ve to minimise its effects. Men, animals, birds – all have to adapt,” the University of London-trained scientist told GlobalMeatNews.