Chhimi Dema  

Cattle and horses suspected to be affected by Karma Feeds are recovering, according to the Department of Livestock (DoL).

On January 22 and 23, a few cases of cattle and horses getting severe diarrhoea and loss of appetite were reported in seven dzongkhags: Paro, Chukha, Trashigang, Thimphu, Samtse, Haa, and Tsirang.

A total of 451 cattle and 122 horses were affected; 17 died. Nine horses died in Thimphu, seven in Paro, and one in Haa.

A notification from the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) issued on January 28 stated that reports “indicated that the cattle feeds manufactured on January 14 and 15, 2022, could be the possible cause of the current issue” although the actual cause is pending confirmation.

BAFRA, as a cautionary measure, kept the suspected batch of cattle feed manufactured and supplied on January 14 to 15 on hold and its sale is not allowed until further notice.

The authority has sent some feed samples to India and Thailand and expects results in a few days.

A farmer in Haa said that milk production was affected, and cattle became feeble.

He said that the company hasn’t said anything about compensation to them yet.

DoL’s principal feed and fodder development officer, Ganga Maya Rizal, said that the department did not receive a formal report of cattle deaths.

She said that the issue is under control and that sudden exposure to the feed had gotten the animals sick.

“We advised the farmers not to give the feed from the batch in question and we got reports that animals were recovering,” she said, adding that farmers shouldn’t give cattle feed to horses, but they have been, which affected the horses.

A press release from Karma Feeds issued on January 29 stated that the company had initiated further inquiries and investigations.

“Our feed factory has been open to full inspection by the authorities, followed by tests and analysis of samples of our feed,” the press release stated.

The existing biosecurity measures have also been further enhanced beyond the requirements of standard operating procedures that were already in place, it stated.