East Berbice poultry farmers count losses from unknown disease

By Bebi Oosman

 

As their losses mount from the deaths of hundreds of chickens and ducks due to a still unknown disease, farmers in the East Bank of Berbice are impatient for answers and, more importantly, help.

“It just a kill them out, mostly them roosters,” farmer Mohan Sookhoo, of Deutichem Village, told Stabroek News.

He stated that he and family members have been poultry farmers for most of their lives and they have never seen such an outbreak.

Farmers reported that the affected animals are not dying immediately; they stop moving and their heads fall to the ground with their eyes closed.

 Mohan Sookhoo
Mohan Sookhoo

Sookhoo stated that 10 to 20 birds are usually affected at any one time. He said that he attempted to treat his livestock with drugs from the pharmacy but was unsuccessful. He has lost thirty chickens so far. Other farmers, who did not want to be named, counted their losses in the hundreds.

“Let them help we find what causing it, so we could know what to do when it happen or how to prevent it,” a farmer said, while calling for the Ministry of Agriculture to look into the situation and provide assistance.

According to the agitated farmers, this unknown disease is hampering their livelihood. One farmer, who claimed that he has lost over 800 chickens since mid-June, reported that one day he discovered about 200 dead chickens and about the same amount infected. He noted that the Ministry of Agriculture’s extension officers were contacted immediately and they visited and took samples from birds that were affected as well as those that were unaffected. However, he stressed that it has been weeks and while more birds continue to die, he is still waiting on word from the extension officers. He estimated that he has lost millions and continues to lose as he refuses to sell live birds to customers.

“I don’t want them say, is one person this thing a happen to, is everybody up here it a happen to,” a farmer said of the situation. His statement appeared to be a response to Chief Executive Officer (ag) of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) Dr Dwight Walrond, who last week refuted suggestions of an outbreak of any poultry disease in the region.

 Vanessa Sampson
Vanessa Sampson
 Indira Nauth
Indira Nauth

“We haven’t received any other reports, so this you can say is an isolated case,” Walrond told the Government Information Agency (GINA) in response to a Guyana Times newspaper report, dated June 29, 2016 and headlined, “Farmer loses over 800 chickens in Berbice.”

Walrond said that GLDA officers in the region visited the location and met with the farmer.

He added that the GLDA has a team on the ground collecting epidemiological information and samples that would help shed light on what is happening at the farm in question. “We need to look into it, but we won’t stop there, we need to look at the entire chain, we look at the feed, the entire batch. We need to know where the chickens came from so we will look at the signs and symptoms and then we are going to take it from there,” he told GINA. “Internally, there would have to be an investigation to look at the channel of information to determine if there were any lapses in the communication process,” he further said.

Farmer Vanessa Sampson said the extension officers as well as veterinarians have visited the area and taken a few of the animals to carry out tests. However, she said the vets told her and others that they do not know the cause of the sickness affecting the poultry at this time.

Sampson noted that one morning she woke up and heard a set of noise and thought something was troubling her chickens and ducks. Upon investigating, she discovered that about 15 chickens were in the pen, not moving, with their heads on the ground. The woman stated that over the past week she has lost approximately 30 chickens and 10 ducks. “Right now, one, one a them still a dead,” she said,

Another farmer, Indira Nauth, said she had 60 birds but now her stock is down to 15. Farmers emphasised that they earn their daily bread from selling their livestock and losing such large amounts will cripple their businesses. As a result, they called for immediate help.

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