Avian Flu and the Procurement of Chickens for Culling
23 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2008
Date Written: March 1, 2008
Highly pathogenic avian influenza travels from migratory birds via domesticated fowl to humans. A prominent strategy for protecting humans from bird flu is to cull chickens. A hurdle to culling chickens is procuring chickens to be culled. Governments have two extreme options: pay for chickens or seize chickens without compensation. This paper explores the economic and economically-mediated ecological costs of the two different methods of procuring chickens for a cull. Because the question we ask has both economic and ecological components, our approach is to marry an ecological model of flu in chickens with an economic model of markets for chicken meat in developing countries. Because the technology to diagnose flu in chickens is imperfect and not widely available, our analysis assumes that there are false negatives in identification of infected chickens. We draw three primary conclusions. First, purchasing chickens may encourage the production of more chickens, increasing the number of sick chickens, a direct threat to humans. Second, seizing chickens avoids this concern, but may encourage farmers to export chickens to neighboring districts or to delay selling chickens until the culling program is terminated. Therefore and important complement (and cost) seizing chickens is a quarantine to prevent export or an extended culling program to limit storage.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation