Feed prices are increased at the whims of the feed suppliers because of monopoly, poultry farmers said.
The feed price increased 4.5% from a few years back, while the existing price of an egg has dropped almost 25% from a few years ago.
“It is becoming costlier for us to buy chicken feed with prices increasing every few months,” a poultry farm owner said. He said that with only around 60% birds laying eggs, buying feed from the city of Phuentsholing has become expensive.
Farm owners said a huge chunk of the little profit they make from the sale of eggs go into the feed.
The Trashigang veterinary hospital also agreed that a chicken feed mill is now necessary for the six eastern districts. But unavailability of raw materials at affordable prices to open a viable feed mill could be a challenge, the hospital authorities said.
Rely on imports
Maize, rice bran, soybean, fishmeal and calcium are some of the required raw materials to process the chicken feed. While maize is available in the villages, the rest would have to be imported.
The hospital said importing these raw materials would escalate the cost of production. “Even if we open a chicken feed mill in Trashigang, it would be difficult to produce at a price cheaper than that of Karma Feeds in Phuentsholing,” assistant livestock officer Norbu said.
The veterinary hospital said the existing number of around 65,000 birds in the six districts cannot support a large-scale chicken feed mill. Trashigang has around 11,700 birds in 27 commercial farms and 18 poultry cooperatives.
Khangma Programme Facilitation Office’s programme director Sangay said his office has turned down about three proposals to set up a chicken feed mill in Trashigang.
“A feasibility study by our technical committee found that opening a feed mill is not viable since most of the core ingredients have to be imported from India,” Sangay said. The office would support only if all necessary ingredients are available within Bhutan.
However, a few farm owners are already working to set up a mini feed mill.
The rising prices are not only the concerns for poultry farmers. During summer, they run short of feeds because of roadblocks and recurring strikes in Assam, India.