April 9, 2019

India's poultry industry ready to improve welfare of chicken farming


India's poultry sector welcomes efforts to change the way local chickens are farmed and consumed under new government rules, said  B. Soundararajan, chairman of  Suguna Holding, one of the country's biggest poultry companies.

His comments came after the Delhi high court had ruled in February that no new battery cage poultry farms are to be permitted in India, The Times of India reported. In addition, government officials recently said the process to notify new rules is on.

"We are open to dialogue. If the government brings in new rules, we are ready to implement them. However, in several developed markets, poultry farming includes battery cages because the practice is more efficient and reduces risk of diseases," Soundararajan commented.

Housing birds in battery cages is a controversial issue due to concerns over animal welfare. This practice may translate to "huge savings for companies in terms of feed," but it is still "possible for a poultry company to succeed without using battery cages," said Prasun Kumar Roy, managing director of Arambagh Hatcheries.

Arambagh, a leading poultry company in East India, does not use cages since the start of its operations. While its chickens are reared cage-free, they are kept within designated areas.

India had also witnessed the rising popularity of free-range poultry farming. This development marks "the beginning of a new era in poultry farming," said Manjunath Marappan, founder of Happy Hens, a company that charges a premium for its free-range eggs.

According to Ashish Modani, vice-president and co-head (corporate ratings) at ICRA, the domestic arm of global ratings agency Moody's, India is one of the world's fastest growing poultry producers for the past 15 years and is currently the fourth-largest globally.

- The Times of India