March 19, 2020 / 9:23 AM / 18 days ago

UPDATE 1-Despite coronavirus, China 2020 poultry output seen level with 2019

(Updates with details)

BEIJING/SHANGHAI, March 19 (Reuters) - China’s poultry and egg output in 2020 are expected to be level with last year, an agriculture official said on Thursday, despite the severe dispruption to the industry because of the coronavirus epidemic.

Many Chinese chicken farmers struggled to feed their birds and send them to slaughter in February after the government imposed strict restrictions on the movement of people and transport to curb the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,000 people in the country.

Some farmers were forced to cull their birds because of the difficulties. But 80% of poultry enterprises in the country have resumed production, said Wei Hongyang, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs’ animal husbandry and veterinary bureau.

“The poultry industry has a short production cycle...and production recovery is very fast,” said Wei.

Poultry output had expanded by 12% last year to 22.39 million tonnes after farmers sought to plug the gap from a pork shortage caused by African swine fever that wiped out much of China’s domestic hog herd.

Wei also said that hog production is recovering, with sow stocks increasing by 1.7% in February from the prior month, the fifth consecutive monthly increase.

He warned however that the risk of African swine fever could increase this year as China seeks to raise pig output.

Beijing has reported four cases of African swine fever so far this year. (Reporting by Stella Qiu, Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton, writing by Emily Chow; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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