In the present economic crisis, the demand for chicks is far too high, and we sell the chicks at cost or below cost at the gate and over the farm fence, everyone wearing masks. Several others have called me in excitement that their chicks are hatching now! I can now visualize a time when the demand for chicks can be met from the small farmers, and I can then focus on breeding and improving the chickens to provide improved broodstock for the farmers, who then focus on production of the thousands of chicks required to meet the local demand.
Once we have the resources for more incubators, we plan to give them out based on identifying those who are most successful, and who can post photos of their healthy and happy chickens on the Happy Chicken facebook page, to get more sharing going. It is encouraging to see the impact of the work.
Local Farmers Eat the Biggest Birds Contrary to Best Breeding Practices: The remedy--One-day Workshops Coming Soon The problem with local chickens is that the farmers have a practice of eating the biggest and best, and saving the small scrawny roosters for breeding - reverse selection - so we will be conducting one-day workshops for all those who will receive the incubators. Presently, I give every buyer some tips over the fence on how to select the breeder roosters, how the females can lay for three years, how they often go broody towards the end of lay, what moulting involves, ect.
Pandemic Drives Need for Returning to Farming:
Farming in Fiji has gotten a BIG push from the pandemic, as since tourism died, there is no alternative but to return to farming. Thus, young hotel workers are now farming for the first time in their lives, helped by their own aging parents and grandparents. The average farmer in Fiji makes under $10,000 USD/year, and the official poverty line is $3,500 per year for a family of five. Most of what people eat they raise themselves.
We are surrounded by hard-working people who are in need regardless of their daily struggles. Chickens add protein and diversification to the small incomes of farmers. In spite of finanical poverty and simple lives, there is a high level of happiness. Joy abounds when people work together and share surplus resources with their neighbors.
Promoting Sustainable, Permaculture Farm Practices: Sharing Methods for Success
Our philosophy involves intercropping corn with cassava as a free short-term crop, and to plant coconuts on all East-West boundaries. That way the main crops won't be shaded. The banana and fruit trees complete the understory in that hedge. Also, moringa trees, with their high protein leaves for human and animal feed thrive. These are all wonderful feed resources for chickens. But deeds speak louder than words, so we have demonstrated these methods here on our farm, and many are emulating the models. In 2021-21, we gave out over 4,000 coconut seedlings to our happy chicken farmers.
40,000 Chicks Distributed and Looking forward to 2022:
Much has been accomplished, with over 40,000 chicks distributed throughout Fiji. 25 dozen were produced weekly from June through October. Now, as summer arrives in the Southern hemisphere, those numbers drop to 12 dozen per week. Our focus has changed to helping women farmers and youth who wish to start their own small hatchery businesses. This will allow us to put more effort into improving the breeds, and on encouraging the diversification of what is available locally.
Loloma levu, and thanks for helping us accomplish these victories! Many lives have been touched. As the new year dawns, may you and your families all stay safe, should the new variant come into your country,