China is to begin importing live chickens from the US as feed shortages due to the coronavirus force poultry farms in the world’s second-biggest economy to start culling millions of young birds, reported the Financial Times.
The culling of poultry follows the mass slaughter of pigs in China due to African swine fever over the past year and threatens to worsen a protein shortage in the country that has sparked rising inflation and soaring meat prices.
“There is no question China’s chicken population will fall sharply in the coming months,” said Qiu Cong of Jinghai Poultry Industry Group, a leading chicken producer. “The chicks are gone and farmers are struggling to make ends meet.”
Farmers have slaughtered at least 100 million young chickens because travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of the coronavirus have blocked shipments of animal feed, according to a report by Wang Zhongqiang, former director at the China Animal Husbandry Association, and Ning Zhonghua, a professor at China Agricultural University.