Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!

by Corals for Conservation
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Happy Chickens for Fiji Food & Climate Emergency!
Seriana and Philipe from Navua
Seriana and Philipe from Navua

 

Fiji has just come out of the wettest wet season in a decade or more, due to  very wet "La Nina" conditions.  Our summer is in December through March, and this year the ocean became quite warm. We were extremely worried about the corals bleaching and dying, but Mother Nature turned on her "fan" and generated four cyclones, which cooled the waters off. The winds were quite destructive and frequent flooding occurred in the country.  The cyclones mostly affected the country 150 km north of us here at the farm.  But due to  all the rain, our pens became horribly muddy in spite of digging new drains.  The chickens and those tending them were miserable, and some of the chickens got sick in the unsanitary conditions.  Fortunately, a simple solution was developed and help was in sight.

In January our Happy Chickens project received a grant from the New Zealand government to purchase a wood chipper, and this seems to have solved nearly 100% of our chicken disease problems. The powerful wood chipping machine was an answer to our prayers! 

We have been busy mulching Chinese Jung Chao cane grass "mushroom grass", recently introduced to Fiji for growing mushrooms in, plus leguminous tree branches.  We do clean the houses regularly and use the dry composted manure for the farm's gardens and crops, but cleaning was not enough.  So we put a thick layer of fresh compost  over the chicken yard and any muddy places, and also a heavy layer in each of the seven hen houses. This prevented the hens from making dust baths in the dried up dusty compost inside the houses- it forces them to do their dust bathing in clean dirt far outside of their houses and yards.  Pathogens could be carried by chickens reveling in impromptu dust baths--that behavior has been stopped with the benefit of a disease free environment. 

The chickens also enjoy eating some of the chopped mulch, which is high in protein and sugars.  The freshly chopped China grass gets surprising hot within a few hours after chopping, not like other things we chop up.  Another grass crop is growing now, and we will be able to redo this every other month, after removing the well-rotted layer for use in the gardens. 

Fiji is going through a difficult period, with 40% losing their jobs due to the closure of all international tourism. With no unemployment benefits, poverty has become much worse in the country.  Happy Chickens offers an alternative to hunger; we continue to hatch about 15 dozen chicks per week, and we continue to give chickens to needy families. 

For the less needy, those who are not destitute and who still have an income through sales of farm produce, we continue to sell chicks at below production cost. The official government poverty line in Fiji is determined by when a family makes less than $3,500. USD per YEAR (not a typo).  So nearly everyone we deal with is struggling.  At $15. USD per dozen, we are able to sell all 15 dozen from the farm each week, which gives some contact time to do a tour of the chicken houses and to share knowledge on tips for success.  We often throw in some free chicks, especially for those who come far on foot or horseback, or if they come to buy half a dozen because that is all they can afford.  For people who were selected for a recent US Embassy funded livelihoods training here at the farm, we have given or will shortly give 2-3 dozen larger chicks each.  Many of these chickens we have raised up for six to eight weeks before distribution.  Photos are below.  

Here's a month's activity at Happy Chicken permaculture farm: 

1. A six-day hands-on workshop sponsored by the US Embassy as a livelihoods training for village women. 

2.  Delivery of two dozen two-week old chicks as a gift to a struggling older retired couple in Navua.

3.  36 half-sized chickens to six poor coastal families in Naidiri Village (5 hens and a rooster each), plus seven of these larger chickens were sent to a family in Naitasiri province, and eight were given to three neighbor children being raised by their elderly grandparents- they arrived on horseback and they caught two buckets of baby crabs in the stream for our fish pond in "payment"- but it was good fun!

There's never a dull moment living with Happy Chickens:  from mulching cane grass for therapeutic chicken baths and bedding, to enjoying a week of knowledge exchange with key villagers who will return to share best practices, supporting struggling elders with a much-appreciated gift of chicks, supplying pint-sized chicks to poor coastal families who in-turn share, watching kids catch buckets of baby crabs by our fish pond...it's all so meaningful and spells survival to so many here in Fiji.  

A heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you who continue to build this project, allowing us to expand the numbers helped, and to be resilient and find solutions to climate change challenges!

Austin Bowden-Kirby

Sharing our joy:  We've welcomed my newest grandchild, Joycelee, who will grow up with her older brother Kiki, mingling with the chickens and loving the healthy environment.

 

  

US Embassy funded Livelihoods Workshop
US Embassy funded Livelihoods Workshop
Wilma and Torika receiving their chickens
Wilma and Torika receiving their chickens
Each sack has 2-3 chickens!
Each sack has 2-3 chickens!
Mesake with one of his new half sized chickens
Mesake with one of his new half sized chickens
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rocks prevent tipping & chicks from drowning
rocks prevent tipping & chicks from drowning

Because of patrons responding to #GivingTuesday, and with the sizable bonuses awarded by GlobalGiving, an urgent program to both protect endangered coral reefs and also to provide a necessary addition to scarce chicken feed was launched.

2020 continues to be a year of crisis all over the world.  Fiji’s border is sealed, and tourism, our largest industry, has closed down.  Tens of thousands of families have lost their primary source of income.  Families are struggling to make ends meet and to feed their children.  Shipping into the country has also been disrupted, impacting the commercial poultry industry, as shipments of baby chicks and fertile eggs from New Zealand stopped for several months, and now have resumed at a lower level, so prices for eggs and chicken in the stores have gone up, at a time when people have less money to spend.  We have responded by doubling the size of our breeding flocks, with the goal of producing 300 chicks per week, to meet the increased demand from the many small family farmers and those newly unemployed who have turned to farming.  However, the cost of chicken feed has also increased by 12%, affecting our base costs of production.  These problems of shipping during the pandemic are stretching the supply chain thin.  A simple thing like procuring chicken feed has become a complex exercise in spending more money and more time searching for an increasingly scarce commodity.  Fortunately, coconut trees planted in years past are now producing and so the chickens are fed coconuts in addition to their forging. We have also in recent months helped plant 5,000 coconuts in surrounding communities, and have provided fencing to protect them from stray cows, horses, and goats.

While in the past chicks were provided as a donation to families in greatest need, the majority of chicks in recent months were sold at cost of production to poor family farmers, with the goal of these farmers hatching chicks of their own and becoming self-sufficient, and spreading prosperity in the wider community.  We have also begun lending out small incubators to the best farmers. One small farmer has proven particularly exceptional, and so we have given him the machine.  We also gave nine roosters to a commercial egg producer and he paid us back in fertile eggs- a cross between our super roosters and his imported super layers.   

While these efforts in self sufficiency for small farmers continue, the New Zealand Government recently awarded us a grant to purchase a wood chipper, and so we plan to begin worm farming as a way of lowering feed costs, while producing valuable potting soil.  The wood chips and dry compost will also be used as litter in the hen houses and under the roosts, providing a cleaner environment for the happy chickens, especially needed now, as it is the rainy season.   

We also are sourcing another free source of chicken feed, harvested from the ocean- the crown of thorns starfish (COTS).  This is part of our coral reef conservation project, where we are funding the removal of a horrific plague of these venomous animals, which eat nothing but live corals, digesting the coral tissues and leaving behind the white skeletons. The COTS removal program is an emergency response leading up to a severe hot water coral bleaching event, which is predicted to hit our reefs from February until April.  Each adult COTS kills a saucer-sized bit of coral every day, and can live for years. Conservatively estimated, removing a single COTS saves 250 corals per year.  Last week we collected 450 COTS from Votua village, for use as chicken feed, paying a bounty of 25 cents USD for each.  Our goal is to remove at least ten thousand in the next six months, at a cost of US $2,500, saving over 2.5 million corals, providing a high protein, high calcium chicken food, and providing a much-needed cash income to the villagers.  We are encouraging the Fiji Government and other NGOs to support this effort for other communities during this coral bleaching crisis, in order to save the bleaching-resistant corals that do survive, helping the coral reefs adapt to the increasing temperatures caused by climate change.  

The villagers know how dangerous the toxic starfish are, as the local name is “Vula Walu” or “eight months”, as that is how long a COTS wound can last before healing.  So the program is helping make the waters safer for children to swim in again.  Each COTS has over a dozen arms covered in venomous spines.  The fishers load them into their canoes or used kayaks, bought from the closed resorts, and then spread them out on the shore to dry, until we come to collect them.  Their sharp thorns fortunately become dull on drying. They also lose their poisonous power, and so they can be more easily handled and ready to be eaten by the hungry chickens, eager for a nutrient rich natural supplement.  Dried COTS, stacked up like pancakes, are smashed before feeding to the chickens.  If they are not yet dry when we bring them in, we lay them out on the hill to dry at the farm.  

A gift of $25 towards this effort will remove 100 COTS, thereby saving 25,000 corals, while translating into joy for cash strapped families, and savings on happy chickens poultry feed, passed on to the farmers.  We will also begin offering baby chicks for trading in-kind for dried COTS, as a way of coastal communities becoming more more self-sufficient. 

U.S. donors, because of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act passed last spring by Congress, you may make up to a $300 cash donation to your favorite non-profit, and claim as a tax deduction next year, even if you don't itemize.  The IRS is encouraging citizens to utilize this special provision to benefit charities worldwide.

We're preparing for Yasa, a hurricane thought to arrive here in Fiji as a Category 4 within two days.  Yasa, in Fijian means sandalwood, and we grow some here at our permaculture farm. 

Godspeed to one and all during the holidays, Austin

Apakuki and Natanieli are excited about the catch!
Apakuki and Natanieli are excited about the catch!
Chickens enjoy picking coconut out of the shell
Chickens enjoy picking coconut out of the shell
Village Children Planting Hybrid Coconuts
Village Children Planting Hybrid Coconuts
Chicks one week apart in age
Chicks one week apart in age
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Free-roaming kids & animals with Austin in shade
Free-roaming kids & animals with Austin in shade

Happy Chickens has been re-branded & re-imagined to meet the demands of the growing food crisis in Fiji.  We are still your favorite chicken project on GlobalGiving that you have known and supported these past five years, but now our mission has expanded to answer the need during the pandemic.  The world is at a standstill here in much of the South Pacific--island nations that we have helped with coral & food security workshops have halted ties to keep safe from the still spreading contagion.  Kiribati, New Caledonia, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, for the most part Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia have closed off air traffic and shipping.  This is necessary because these nations have severely limited hospital capacity and historically the villages have no way to stop the spread.  There are no closed houses for quarantine isolation, only the traditional communal living which has afforded survival for generations.

Happy Chickens is ramping up to answer the call for food security in Fiji.  Even though our hatchery program has provided over 30,000 free or at-cost chickens, our yield must be increased to supplement the diets of so many.  No one knows when the high volume poultry shipments from New Zealand can resume.

Before I detail our newest developments at the sustainable, permaculture farm, let me show some of our happy scenes photographed by my son Akka and shared via blog by my wife Kim:

 These cocks squaring off:

Feathers are about to fly.

Looks like a big fight was about to happen. But what really happened is that one rooster chose to de-escalate matters by pretending to eat. ha ha.

Akka shot over this photo which he identified as “two white ducks that are always together.”

 

Best buds – whatever species they are.

I’m pretty sure that it is a pair of ganders.

Right now Austin is getting quotes from businesses with diggers because he landed a government grant for fish ponds! Akka and wife Monica are going to be raising some gigantic tilapia – as high quality Fish Food is part of the grant. The idea is that people raise the first batch of tilapia with government help, and then reserve part of the fish sales to pay for the high quality food for the next batch of fish. Grow, sell, repeat. If we can make this work, we can pass it on!

 

2015-09-04 avocado flower  Cr

 

The avocado tree is making flowers.  Akka adds this photo which shows some of the flora of our farm.  Woot woot – I guess we may be getting our own avocados soon.

Now returning to our re-branding to meet today's emergency situation in Fiji, here are some key elements from our GlobalGiving project page:

Challenge

Tourism, Fiji's biggest employer, has collapsed, forcing tens of thousands of unemployed to return to their villages. Many have resorted to farming and fishing, but lack skills and resources for sustainable practices. Coral reefs, already stressed by climate change, are becoming over-fished. Free range village chickens integrated into farming are a good alternative, but Fiji is dependent on imported chicks, and airfreight has slowed, resulting in a critical shortfall of baby chickens.

Solution

We have crossed local chicken breeds with imported breeds to produce highly productive birds well-adapted to local tropical conditions. Our answer to the crisis has been to ramp-up our Happy Chicken hatchery to >300 chicks/week and to train farmers to produce their own chicks, as well as to train communities in organic farming, with chickens integrated as a key element. With an alternative protein source, some coral reef areas can then be set aside within no-fishing "tabu" recovery zones.

Long-Term Impact

The cyclones destroy important traditional food sources. Improved island-type chickens are excellent foragers and reproduce well on their own, resulting in restored chicken flocks and lasting change. By offering housing & training for youth at our permaculture farm, we are starting a positive chain with our improved island-type chickens. As the world crisis tightens its grip on Fiji, we share seeds, root crop cuttings, and superior coconut seedlings, resulting in feeding >30,000 rural poor.

What began as a partnership and a shared vision with local farmers, indigenous communities throughout the South Pacific, and plain hard work by my extended family, has become one of the key components of addressing the food crisis in Fiji.  Our methods are inspired by the wisdom of my North Carolina ancestors regarding free-ranging chickens and breeding, and are enhanced by local tropically suited practices.  Happy Chickens is now achieving governmental recognition and may one day build upon that international humanitarian attention from agencies like the United Nations and the disaster relief arm of GlobalGiving.

All of this progress and the vision of a better future is sponsored by you!

Sincere thanks for believing we all can make a difference,

Austin Bowden-Kerby and my entire family here at Happy Chickens

 

 

 

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Fiji Salusalu Rooster
Fiji Salusalu Rooster

The colorful roosters are coming into their own high season here at the Happy Chicken farm- time for rebuilding and improving the flock to meet the increasing need for baby chicks.  The country is shut down due to Corona virus and imported chicks can no longer be flown into the country from New Zealand. Fiji normally imports over 20 million fertile eggs and chicks per year, providing poultry and eggs to much of the South Pacific region, but this crisis is affecting air transport. 

If you've been following the hen and rooster tales recently, you'll recall our flock has taken some hard hits and suffered severe set-backs....so much so that we've had to sell off most of our six flocks and to rebuild the nucleus of our superior breeders from the chickens that were not affected.  In Fiji we call the foraging local chickens "jangli chickens" - a Hindi word, as we have a lot of people of Indian descent here. The word jangli means "wild"- the same word root as "jungle".

Breeding and then Choosing Mr. Right Rooster:

We tried for seven years to bring in heritage chicken breeds from overseas, but it proved impossible, so we worked to create our own productive dual purpose (for both eggs and meat), mixed breed of chickens.  We started by selecting the best local jangli roosters we could find and crossing them with imported shaver brown egg laying chickens, which were the only egg chickens allowed into the country from overseas.  Every year we raised up at least a hundred of these mixed breed chickens, and we sold off the smaller roosters and hens, and kept the biggest and the most beautiful.  So over the past ten years or so, we have produced a very productive mixed breed of chickens for the communities..... and the breed has gotten better with each passing year primarily through selecting the best roosters from each generation.

A good hen lays eggs for three years, but in mixed age flocks, (which most flocks are here), the farmers cannot tell how old each hen is, so it is just a guessing game for retiring hens from the flock.  So we are now trying to create specific breeds of chickens so that the farmers can know how old their hens are, and so they will know which ones to select for culling (those that are ~4 years old). That is what my grandmother taught me, and really the only way to manage a multi-year flock.

Each breed is based on a unique color or form.  On researching the internet, we found that for some breeds, the hens and roosters do not look anything like each other- so it's challenging, yet fun deciding which roosters to pair up with which sorts of hens, as I divide the chickens up into reasonable breeding groups, based on the closest heritage breeds.  We have some real beauties here at the farm, and I include some photos below from two of the new breeding groups.  From these groups we will soon collect the eggs and hatch the chicks and raise them up and then further select for size and color and egg production.  We hope that after three years, we will have created several good breeds for the country. 

I looked online yesterday at chicken breeds to try to figure out what some of my interesting chickens must be related to Norfolk Gray chickens, very rare breed, which seems to have somehow gotten to Fiji long ago. We are calling these gray/white fringed chickens "Saluasalu" chickens which means "flower lei".  Many of the happy chickens look somewhat like the Welsummer breed, and others.  In time we hope to produce breeds that look like Sussex, Australorp, Rhode Island Red, and Anconas.  One of the new breeding groups is a shiny greenish black rose comb chicken-some with small red markings around the neck, and with beautiful gold and red roosters with a glossy greenish black tail.  The Rose Comb birds are one of my best layers, but these hens also often hide their eggs in the bushes. The disappear for three weeks, only to reappear with a dozen fuzzy chicks following behind. For local farmers, these chickens will be important for hatching out their own chickens, and the rose comb eggs can be substituted for any eggs.

Addressing Impending Food Shortfalls Due to Covid-19 Import Restrictions:

Besides significant damage to the local farmers and village comunities from two cyclones since our last report, the most important development is that there is a developing shortage of imported egg laying chickens, which are required to maintain the egg industry of Fiji.  The imported chicks are no longer available, as the cargo flights are so few. In 6-9 months a shortage of eggs is expected to develop, and this situation might last for up to two years. W ithout egg producing chickens and abundant eggs, coral reef fish and river prawns will be targeted and could quickly become overfished. Our challenge now is how can we produce more high quality egg producing chickens in larger numbers- and quickly in the hatchery? 

With the culling of most of our hens last year, we are now getting only eight dozen eggs per week for hatching, not enough to scratch the surface of the needs.  So I called Pranil, a local egg and organic vegetable farmer on the coral coast, as he has 330 young brown egg layer hens, and I proposed to buy 20 of his hens for crossing with some of my best roosters, as I had five surplus breeding roosters.  What ended up happening is that I have given him five of my five best super roosters as barter, and he will give me ten dozen fertile eggs per each rooster, or a total of 50 dozen eggs, which I will hatch and begin distributing to the farmers as a 1/2 to 3/4 egg bird cross.  Subsequent eggs from Pranil's farm will be hatched in our incubators and the chicks will split 50/50 between Pranil and the Happy Chicken project.  The eggs produced from these Fiji egg layer chickens will be of mixed colors, as three of the breeding roosters hatched from a light blue egg, they will father hens which lay olive green eggs, as dark brown + blue = olive green.  I will grow up 100 or so of these chickens, to see how fast they grow and how many eggs they lay etc for comparison with imported egg layers.  Assuming that they do really well, we will then have multi colored layers available for free-range small egg farmers.  That would help give the poor farmers of Fiji a boost.  So fingers crossed that this will work out for maximum benefit for all.  The first eight dozen of these eggs went into the incubator just yesterday.

Coconuts as Chicken and Human Food: Another long term vision is finally coming true!

After placing an order and paying for improved coconut seedlings four years ago, the seedlings finally arrived at the farm just two weeks ago!  The 5,000 coconut seedlings came by boat and truck all the way from Taveuni Island, three hundred kilometers distant.   When the trees mature in only five or six years, the they will bear magnificent large coconuts the size of soccer balls.  So we are also giving out these wonderful coconut seedlings to communities and to farmers of our happy chickens. The coconuts make excellent chicken feed, as well as human food plus numerous useful products, such as virgin coconut oil, vegan coconut cheese, toddy sugar, toddy vinegar, and soap.  We have begun training communities in production of these products, using coconuts already growing at the farm.

Salusalu Hens- Real Beauties
Salusalu Hens- Real Beauties
Fiji Rosecomb Rooster and Hens
Fiji Rosecomb Rooster and Hens
Pranil and brother and their organic farm
Pranil and brother and their organic farm
Happy Rooster and Imported Egg Layer Hens
Happy Rooster and Imported Egg Layer Hens
Coconut Seedlings by the Truck-load
Coconut Seedlings by the Truck-load
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Fiji Rose Comb
Fiji Rose Comb

The colorful roosters are coming into their own high season here at the Happy Chicken farm.  It is a time for rebuilding and improving the flock to meet community needs for baby chicks, as the country is shut down due to Corona virus and imported chicks are not being flown into the country from New Zealand.  Fiji normally imports over 20 million fertile eggs and day-old chicks and provides poultry and eggs to the South Pacific region.

If you've been following the hen and rooster tales recently, you'll recall our flock has taken some hard hits and suffered severe set-backs....so much so that we've had to sell off most of our six flocks and to rebuild the nucleus of our superior breeders from the chickens that were not affected.

In Fiji we call the foraging chickens "jangli chickens" - a Hindi word, as we have a lot of people of Indian descent here. The word jangli means "wild", and wildlands in India are known as "jungle".  Everyone  says that jungli chicken tastes so good, not like the mass produced (unhappy) ones raised on big poultry farms. The fresh eggs are also wonderful and of all colors- cream, brown, green and even light blue! 
Choosing Mr. Right Rooster:
We tried for seven years to bring in heritage chicken breeds from overseas, but it proved impossible, so we worked to create a productive dual purpose (for both eggs and meat), mixed breed of chickens.  We started by selecting the best local roosters we could find and crossing them with imported shaver brown egg laying chickens, which were one of two types of chickens allowed into the country from overseas (the other breed proved unusable).  Every year we raised up at least a hundred mixed breed chickens, and from that we sold off the smaller roosters and hens, and kept the biggest and the most beautiful.  So we produced a very productive mixed breed of chickens for the communities over time and it got better with each passing year.  
A good hen lays eggs for three years, but in mixed age flocks, (which most are), the farmer usually can not tell how old each hen is, so it is just a guessing game for retiring hens from the flock.  So we are now trying to create specific breeds of chickens, so that the farmers can know how old their hens are. That way they will know which ones to select for culling (4+ year olds).  Researching on the Internet, we found that for some breeds, the hens and roosters do not look anything like each other- so it's challenging, yet fun.  I am now dividing the chickens up into reasonable breeding groups, based on the closest heritage breeds I can find photos of.  We have some real beauties here at the farm, and I include some photos below of the new breeding groups I have created.  From these groups we will collect the eggs and hatch the chicks and raise them up and then further select for size and color and egg production, and after three years, we might get some very good breeds for the country.  
That is what my grandmother taught me, and really the only way to manage a multi-year flock.  I looked online yesterday at chicken breeds to try to figure out what some of my interesting chickens must be related to.  Norflok Gray, a very rare breed, seems to have somehow gotten to Fiji long ago, also Welsummer.  I can get Sussex and Australorps and Rhode Island Reds, and Anconas, or something that looks similar. One of the breeds is a black rose comb chicken with small red markings around the neck.  With these beautiful mostly gold and red roosters, I get what seems to be one of my best layer birds, but these hens often want to set and hatch their eggs. I need to take some good photos of each group. 
The hardest thing is to choose the right rooster for the hens of a particular sort, because the hens and roosters do not look anything like each other in many breeds.
  
If I create the breeds, will people keep them true to form? Or does it fall apart when I am gone?
 
Addressing Looming Food Shortfall Due to Covid-19 Import Restrictions:
Even more important development is that the chicks of the egg chickens that are needed to maintain the egg industry in Fiji are no longer available in Fiji as the cargo flights are so few. Thus in 9-12 months a shortage of eggs might develop.  We do not know how long this situation will hold, but it might be for two years?  Without chickens and eggs the poor coral reef fish will have no chance, so our time has come.  How can we produce more high quality egg birds in larger numbers?  
At the moment, we culled out 75% of our chickens late last year, as we had 
had diseases and I was too involved with the corals, plus the hatchery manager resigned as she has a baby. So I am only getting about two dozen eggs a day, up from one dozen last week and only half a dozen the week before that.  I have about 70 hens, and so I will be getting 4-6 dozen eggs per day by the end of June.  
I called Pranil, a local egg farmer on the coast who I know, as he has 330 young brown egg layer hens. I had wanted to buy 20 of them for crossing with some of my best roosters, but what ended up happening is that I have given him five of my best super roosters as barter. Next he will give me ten dozen fertile eggs per each rooster, or a total of 50 dozen eggs, which I will hatch and begin distributing to the farmers as a 1/2 to 3/4 egg bird cross.  Three of ten roosters hatched from a green egg, so I expect some olive egg layers. 
Out of the cross, which is the result of dark brown + blue color gene, I will also grow up 50 or so of the chickens. That way I can see how fast they grow and how many eggs they lay etc. for comparison. If they do really well, then we will have layers of 3-4 colors available for free-range small egg farmers.  That would really help give the poor farmers a boost.  
So fingers crossed that this will work out for maximum benefit for all.
We are also giving out the wonderful coconuts to the farmers and especially those with happy chickens. 5,000 coconut seedlings (back-ordered from 2 years ago & when mature will boast magnificent coconuts) is a lot to deal with.
The chickens all seem healthy now and we sold off 60 of the smallest roosters as they were fighting. At least 7 of the best ones went into breeding on other farms- I could not see people eating those good ones. I still have too many, but how to part with such good stock?  Saving them for when I find a farmer like Pranil with some good hens to cross them with sounds like a plan.

Our Reigning Super Star Rooster:

Let me introduce our prince of a rooster, Salusalu, so named because his showy neck rings give him the appearance of wearing a flower lei.  He's plump, he's feisty, he's LOUD, he's irresistible, and I find him to be a spirit lifter and interesting company when I go about my morning seed scattering chores.  He's so dominant that he gives me confidence the stock will gain increased hardiness during his reign.

Now there have been some mysterious happenings out at the chicken yard.  For starters, Hurricane Harold blew through Fiji with a force not foreseen by anyone.  The rain was pelting us for days prior and the wind was steadily becoming stronger.  I had made my way out to board up the chicken keeper's house, as an extra precaution, and found I could not make headway back to my house.  I retreated to shelter with the chickens and our three geese.  Who knew what might happen, when POW, the neighbor's roof blew off.  Even the tree where the horse was tethered teetered and fell, but the horse had enough sense to get clear.  In all the commotion, it was difficult to assess damage.

Next followed nine days without main power, and our cistern of stored water was running down.  Luckily, our hatchery has solar power, and that's where we recharged our phone batteries to stay in touch with the outside world.  

Last week, I lost two roosters.  I thought they had been stolen, but turned out this was not the case.  The crafty fellows had ducked under a tear in the fence.  Often I use what's on hand for repairs, so I proceeded to fix the spot.  Why not re-enforce with the thorns of a bougainvillea?  It soon became evident that what started out as a good idea, lacked a great deal in application.  Yes, the fence was fixed, but I came away with my hands and face pierced and considerably worse for wear.  In one of my better moves, I hired some neighbors to help with the bigger hurricane clean-up tasks.

Happy Chicken land is disease free and gearing up to a return of full chicken levels of 300 chicks per week.  A big unknown in the food security of Fiji is whether New Zealand will become Covid-19 free.  This is critical because factory bred chickens from there account for 20 million per year.  We know these imported standard chickens are not well suited to our tropical climate, but for the present they account for a huge portion of the market.  Our methods using natural foraging and supplementing with some other nutrition from unused parts of the coconuts is far superior, but the scale is small.  Our plan is to continue breeding and sharing heat hardy, more self-sufficient chickens suitable for supplying villages and culturally the best way to go.

We are ever grateful to all you have done to make this vision of tropical happy chickens a reality.  Your generosity has kept the breeding program alive during some bumps and now your help is bringing the production levels safely back up to capacity.  

Salusalu (Flower Lei) Rooster
Salusalu (Flower Lei) Rooster
Salusalu Hens
Salusalu Hens
Salusalu Chickens - Creating a New Breed for Fiji
Salusalu Chickens - Creating a New Breed for Fiji
Fiji Rosecomb Chickens Make Excellent Mother Hens
Fiji Rosecomb Chickens Make Excellent Mother Hens
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Organization Information

Corals for Conservation

Location: Samabula - Fiji
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Austin Bowden-Kerby
Samabula, Fiji
$36,347 raised of $55,500 goal
 
348 donations
$19,153 to go
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