SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — It has been a grim summer for poultry farmers. Fears of an outbreak of avian influenza and murderous heat waves that have resulted in the deaths of millions of animals have made 2017 a year to forget.
Since the “official” end of the rainy season on July 25, it is estimated that between 10 and 60 thousand animals have perished daily.
The animal deaths were first reported as early as July 20, with some data indicating that deaths may have begun even sooner.
According to statistics provided by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, 2.77 million farm animals perished in the punishing weather conditions. Chickens and ducks were particularly susceptible to the environmental changes, with 2.69 million and 57,000 deaths respectively.
In Gyeonggi Province, 242,000 chickens and 10,000 quail were reported to have perished according to figures as of August 8. South Gyeonggi was hit especially hard when afternoon temperatures peaked at 38 degrees Celsius, wiping out 18,000 animals on August 5 and 6.
Other regions suffering significant losses were the provinces of South Chungcheong and South Jeolla. The areas saw losses in their chicken and duck populations of over 302,000 and 301,000 animals, respectively.
Though pig fatalities have also been reported, compared to poultry, and especially chickens, the loss of pigs has been significantly lower, with 10,000 pigs reported to have perished nationwide.
The susceptibility of the chickens to the heat has been attributed to their biological makeup. With a frame blanketed in feathers and non-existent sweat glands, it is believed that chickens have greater difficulty regulating their body temperatures.
Some also point the finger at the environments in which they are raised – small, enclosed spaces that are overcrowded cause overheated living quarters for the animals.
Farmers are doing their part to keep temperatures down, though their efforts so far have been not as successful as they might have hoped, judging from the results. Regional governments have reached out to livestock farmers with brochures and tips on how to ensure animals can stay healthy as the summer wears on.