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Rediff.com  » News » Bird Flu: Poultry owner vents ire on media

Bird Flu: Poultry owner vents ire on media

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February 22, 2006 03:44 IST

"Have you visited any other farm today," asked the man who was to give this correspondent a tour of Khushboo Chicks' poultry farm on the Damdama road, near Gurgaon.

The answer was a thankful no. Else, the man will have insisted on a bath in a bathroom to the left of the entrance.

Complete Coverage: Bird Flu Hits India

The farm's owner, Sanjeev Gupta, is hurt by the sharp drop in wholesale chicken prices. And he is visibly angry with the media.

"How can 10 lakh birds be killed overnight, as the media is saying. We will need to call in the army for that," he fumed.

He blamed the media for only 80 trucks arriving at the mandi (market) that day, against over 100 on a normal day. Fortunately, the master's ire was not shared by the three big Alsatians. They were there to keep out cats and other trespassers.

Graphic: Flu reaches far & wide

A farmhand, carrying a small tank on his back, came to spray disinfectant on the soles of our shoes and the tyres of the car, even though the car had not been brought into the farm. Was the spray hurriedly arranged because a journalist was visiting? Unlikely. The spray equipment looked to have been much in use.

The shoes were to be taken off on a small courtyard, where six pairs of slippers were lined next to the wall. Were the slippers hurriedly arranged? Unlikely. They, too, appeared to be much in use. Only one pair was new.

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A man came forward and introduced himself as Dr Sanjiv Kumar, the veterinarian. Kumar, apart from taking care of the birds' health, conducts a post-mortem in case of a death (the farm, with about 10,500 birds, has four-five deaths every day due to in-fighting or illness).

If he cannot make out the cause of the death, the bird is sent to a laboratory in Gurgaon.

The entrance to the bird shed, including the ground, was literally painted white with Vircon and Omnicide. There was a bigger spraying equipment, fitted with wheels, lying nearby. The birds are sprayed on regularly.

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Sacks full of chicken-feed were piled up in the middle. Each sack was visibly new. "We do not use used sacks," said Gupta.

Next to the sacks was a weighing machine. Each bird is weighed and then put into a cage, which will have birds of similar weight. Long lines of cages extended on either side, at different heights. A farmhand walked by the rows of birds, tending to them, frequently touching them.

"Do you think anyone would touch the birds if there was a real scare," asked Gupta, as he himself patted a hen. "Would you touch this cell phone if I said it gave electric shocks," he pressed further, thrusting his phone forward. Involuntarily, the correspondent recoiled.

Will you still eat chicken? Tell us

Suveen K Sinha in New Delhi
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