More than 17 poultry farmers in Thimphu and Chukha allege they incurred huge loss after a batch of layer pellet feeds of Karma Feeds reduced their poultry production since May 9.

A poultry farm owner from Chukha approached the livestock officials in Thimphu, requesting the officials to investigate the case and help him.

He claimed he reported the matter to Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) officials but did not get any response.

“The livestock officer sent samples to BAFRA but there is no response,” he alleged.

He said he availed a loan of more than Nu 1.3M from Rural Enterprise Development Corporation Ltd (REDCL) to start the farm last year and was earning good profit until May 9 this year.

According to the owner, egg production in his farm reduced to 17 percent from 92 percent after feeding the feed. He had about 1,500 layers then. “I still regret feeding the feeds but I had no choice.”

He said he had to sell half of the layers to buy feeds, as egg production is lowered. “I am worried about how I will pay the monthly loan instalment of Nu 22,025 and land lease rent of Nu 70,000 a year.”

Another farm owner in Genekha, Thimphu, said the feed problem has now reduced her 3,000 layers to 700 and the farm is running in huge loss.

She claimed she also took a loan of Nu 2.3M from REDCL and repaid about half. “But I am worried how I will repay the remaining Nu 1.3M loan.”

According to the owner, they informed Karma Feeds the moment the issue arose. “They asked for time, saying they would look into it. They then sent an official to inspect all the poultry farms and asked for more time, as they needed to conduct a test.”

She said Karma Feeds initially said they would give 15 percent compensation but have not received anything yet. “Livestock officials say they have sent the samples to India for testing. I will have to wait for the test results.”

Another farm owner in Bjabcho, Chukha, said his layers stopped laying eggs a day after feeding the feeds. “I have more than eight years of experience in poultry farming and I know it is because of the feeds.”

In a letter Karma Feeds sent to livestock officials, it claimed that they received complaints on layer pellet feeds of production batch dated May 10 to 21 in which fishmeal was added to maintain projected crude protein content.

It stated that the fishmeal is not a new ingredient as it is added as a protein supplement in poultry feeds as and when necessary. “Farmers, agents and livestock officials reported none eating of the feeds and decrease in production and the management has immediately checked the nutrient content.”

The letter stated that as requested by a farm owner in Babesa, the birds and feeds were checked by National Centre for Animal Health in Serbithang and it did not find any Aflatoxin infection. “Further, the management has immediately recalled the feeds and replaced with new feeds in consultation with respective agents and it has been reported that the production is back to normal in all affected farms.”

It also stated that it declared in-kind compensation of 15 percent of the feeds consumed of the total 34,585 metric tonnes of feeds produced from May 9 to 21.

Karma Feeds project director, Chencho Wangyel, said they conducted the test the moment they received the complaints and although everything was negative, they recalled the feeds and declared the compensation valuing the customers.

“We understand their sentiments and we conducted laboratory tests,” he said. “We have also asked the agents to pay the in-kind compensation, as they would know which farm owners took the feed.”

Meanwhile, the director general for Department of Livestock, Dr Tashi Samdup said they have sent the feed samples to India to test the amino acids content. “We will be able to comment only after receiving the test result.”

Tashi Dema