Over 17 million chickens have died in India as a result of the country’s heat wave, and chicken meat prices have soared as a consequence.

May and June are India’s hottest months, but temperatures this year have been above average in some parts of the country, and the cooling monsoon rains are late.

A mortality rate of 2-3 percent in poultry flocks is not unusual during India’s summer months, however it rose to 10 percent during May. At least 17 million birds are thought to have died during the month, while chicken prices rose by 35 percent.

The number of human deaths attributed to the heat wave has been widely reported, however its impact on agriculture has been less widely discussed. The heat is not only negatively impacting the country’s poultry producers, but also its feed producers, who have seen demand fall as a result of the difficulties experienced by broiler producers.


“In the last two-to-three weeks, poultry feed demand has fallen by nearly 30 percent,” K V Krishan Charan, general manager of feed producer Komaral Feeds and Food Pvt Ltd, told Reuters.

Locally imposed bans on beef consumption have also helped to push up the price of chicken, reversing a drop in response to fears over avian influenza which saw prices drop below production cost.

Temperatures are expected to continue rising in June, and the death of more broilers is predicted.