Millions of birds have been culled in Russia and Kazakhstan after multiple outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in the past weeks.
As the epidemic enters new regions, millions more are at risk.
Kazakhstan has lost 1.2 million birds at 3 industrial poultry farms, said Duisengaz Musin, member of the country’s Parliament, during a recent press conference. He added that this figure would be even higher if backyard farms are taken into account. In total, Kazakh poultry farms housed 46 million birds at the beginning of the epidemic, as estimated by Ruslan Sharipov, chairman of the Union of Poultry Farmers of Kazakhstan. So far, the virus has primarily hit egg farms, he added.
Local press reported that the AI outbreaks caused a shortage of eggs in the country’s capital Nursultan, although the authorities have not confirmed this statement. As average temperatures in the affected regions dropped below zero, the virus outbreak is expected to slow down in the coming month, Sharipov said, explaining that AI dies at this temperature.
The recent AI epidemic could have some consequences for the country’s veterinary system, too. “Some outbreaks showed several gaps in the operation of empowered bodies,” said Askar Mamin, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, during a recent government meeting. The country’s Agricultural Ministry has asked the government to allocate KZT 3 billion (US$ 7 million) to implement a nationwide electronic traceability system, said Agricultural Minister Saparkhan Omarov during the same government meeting. This system can help to compensate the losses the Kazakh farmers suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
In 2020, the AI epidemic killed 1.5 million birds in Russia. Currently, the disease is spreading in Siberia, hitting both industrial and backyard farms. The disease has also spread to the European part of Russia, though most outbreaks are still reported in Siberia. The outbreak in the Kostromskaya Oblast killed more than 14,000 birds and led to the culling of the rest of the flock of 283,000 animals, the government officials reported. Some market participants expressed concerns that the continuing AI epidemic could impact the growth of Russian poultry export, which is anticipated to at least be in the double-digits this year.