KLEIN KAROO NEWS - The difficulties experienced by new and small-scale poultry producers can generally be attributed to three factors: ‘farm blindness’, poor access to markets resulting in cash-flow and production management problems, and inefficient disease management.
Walter Gwala, a facilitator at the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute, defines farm blindness as farmers’ lack of knowledge resulting in them regarding the situation on their farm as being the norm everywhere.
“When farmers do not know enough about farming poultry, they end up [with] poor bird performance and animal welfare. They are, however, unaware that this is a problem, because they do not know any better,” Gwala explains.
Training and information sharing is the solution. Farmers who are equipped with the correct knowledge will learn and so become accustomed to what ‘normal’ is, he explains.
“Through constant monitoring and observation of birds, they will in effect be able to identify stress signals early and address these before a situation gets out of control,” Gwala says.
Most small-scale farmers sell live birds because they do not have the facilities to supply formal markets that require slaughtered and processed chickens.
However, the market for live chickens is cyclical and unpredictable. Dr Charlotte Nkuna, CEO at the South African Poultry Association (SAPA), explains that during some cycles, farmers sell off all their chickens within a couple of days, clean the farm and are ready for the next batch.
During other cycles, however, it may take weeks to sell the birds, causing delays in the preparations for the next batch.