Over 55000 chickens to be culled in Mohali after confirmation of avian influenza in two poultry farms

The decision was taken after samples from two poultry farms at Behra village in Dera Bassi subdivision of Mohali district tested positive at the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases lab

PTI Photo (File)
PTI Photo (File)

Bipin Bhardwaj

After nearly 1.66 lakh chickens were culled in Haryana’s Barwala belt following the outbreak of avian influenza, the culling of over 55,000 birds at poultry farms located in Punjab’s Mohali district started on Thursday.

The state Animal and Husbandry Department took the decision after receiving the reports of samples from two poultry farms at Behra village in Dera Bassi subdivision of Mohali district from the National Institute of High-Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) laboratory, Bhopal, on Wednesday. The samples taken from two poultry farms tested positive for H5N8 strain at NIHSAD.

Behra village is located on the Punjab-Haryana border adjacent to Barwala where bird flu has hit poultry farms.

Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry and Dairy), Punjab, V K Janjua, said that around 55,000 birds will be culled and the process will start on Thursday evening or Friday morning.

The birds at poultry farms located within one km of an infected farm must be culled as per the Union government’s guidelines. Both the poultry farms are layer farms where birds are reared for eggs.

The department has constituted 25 teams to execute the culling drive. The poultry birds would be buried after culling. The state government will

also compensate the farmers as per the provisions of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act 2009, an official of the department said.

The samples from these poultry farms were sent to NIHSAD for confirmation on January 15 after the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL), Jalandhar, suspected them to be positive for the bird flu.

Punjab had sounded an alert earlier this month after bird flu cases were reported from several states and Union Territories in north India, including Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi.

In Panchkula’s Barwala-Raipur Rani belt, it is suspected that avian influenza affected over 20 lakh poultry birds earlier this month.

After the confirmation of bird flu in Raipur Rani-based poultry farms, the Haryana government ordered culling of birds following which the district administration with the assistance of Animal Husbandry Department disposed of nearly 2 lakh birds.

Later, the state government decided to form a committee to suggest alternatives to culling, following a protest lodged by poultry farmers who demanded that culling be carried out only in the affected units.

The committee will suggest alternatives so that the virus can be contained and the poultry farmers will not have to face loss if their stock is not infected.

Haryana Animal Husbandry Minister JP Dalal has said, “The toll is way below the average deaths due to bird flu. We need more clarity on the guidelines that say all birds within 1 km radius need to be culled.”

“While culling will begin at farms where even one bird tests positive, our teams will take samples from other farms. We will wait for the Centre’s response and proceed accordingly,” said the minister, adding that in the absence of any alternative, the department’s entire staff would have to be put on duty for months to cull 20 lakh birds after confirmation of a positive test from the NIHSAD lab.

Raja Shekhar Vundru, Additional Chief Secretary (Animal Husbandry), Haryana said, “We will consider re-sampling at farms where birds have tested positive. We have received representations from poultry associations which suggested creation of containment zones. The suggestion has been forwarded to the Centre.”

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