300 million chickens are at ‘edge of death’ on Hubei lockdown

Roads blocked by police to restrict people leaving Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on January 25. (PHOTO: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

By Alfred Cang

(Bloomberg) -- The Hubei province lockdown is pushing its more-than 300 million chicken flock to the “edge of death,” according to the region’s poultry association.

Halting transport in and out of Hubei has “basically paralysed” shipments of animal feed supplies and the raw materials needed to make them, the local poultry association said in letters, seen by Bloomberg, asking state producers to deliver supplies urgently.

Most farms in the province will likely run out of feed by the end of the week, said a separate letter from the provincial agricultural department seen by Bloomberg. Hubei consumes about 1,800 tons of corn and 1,200 tons of soymeal a day as animal feed, and may see a 600,000-ton deficit of the grains and oilseeds by the end of next month, the letters said.

Calls to the offices of Hubei’s agriculture department and poultry association went unanswered.

Industries from carmakers to retailers have been hit by the spread of the novel coronavirus in China as the death toll rises and authorities globally tighten travel restrictions and movement of people to contain the epidemic. Commodities markets have been especially hit hard on fears that demand from China, the world’s top producer and consumer, will weaken and hurt consumption of everything from crude to soybeans.

Egg futures on China’s Dalian Commodity Exchange are set to resume trading on Feb. 3 after Beijing extended the Lunar New Year break and delayed the country’s financial markets from opening. Hubei province is the country’s 6th-biggest poultry producer and accounts for 5% of China’s annual egg output.


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