1.3-lakh Avian flu-hit hens to be culled in Karnataka

Bidar (Karnataka): Karnataka’s animal husbandry department would cull 1.3 lakh hens Avian flu-hit on Tuesday at a private poultry farm here to contain the deadly H5N1 virus from spreading to other bird farms in the state, an official said.

“Preparations are underway to start the culling operation from early Tuesday in the poultry farm of Ramesh Gupta at Melakera village, 7 km from Humnabad,” deputy director B. Govind told IANS.

Culling the remaining stock of birds in Gupta’s farm was decided after the National Institute of Animal Diseases at Bhopal tested and confirmed that they were affected by the flu, as evident from the death of about 20,000 hens in last three weeks in the midst of a sizzling summer.

“Gupta came to us on Saturday with the carcass of a few birds to find out the cause for their death with other hens in his 14-acre farm, one of the largest in the district,” Govind said.

Declaring an high alert against the outbreak of the bird flu, Animal Husbandry Minister A. Manju directed the officials to prevent its spread to other farms in Bidar and other districts across the state to minimise the damage and spike fears.

“The farm has been sealed and a huge pit has been dug up in it to bury the culled birds, destroy poultry feed, and quarantine it for a week,” Govind said.

The department has rushed 50 teams of five members each to clear the area of 1 km around the farm with protective gear and cull the chickens in lots of 2,800 and bury them in the pit.

“Each member will wring necks of the birds to cull and bury them in the pit near the farm gate. Unsold hens in a few hundreds have already been culled and their eggs destroyed to prevent their sale and consumption,” Govind added.

In a related development, Bidar Deputy Commissioner Anurag Tiwari banned sale and transport of chicken within 1-km radius of the infected farm and sent teams to check sending them across the state into neighbouring Telangana or Maharashtra.

Besides Gupta’s farm and Vasu’s farm near Basavakalyan in this district, which has about 1.20-lakh birds, all small and medium farms in the state have been directed to inspect their birds, including their behaviour, consumption and quality of eggs they lay before transporting them for sale.