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 Hunger  Fiji Project #20071

Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment

by Corals for Conservation
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Happy Chickens for Food Security and Environment
Joel and Iopil, our Vanuatu Trainees
Joel and Iopil, our Vanuatu Trainees

In December and January we hosted two trainees from Vanuatu at our Sustainable Livelihoods Farm in Fiji for six very full weeks.  This was our first Happy Chicken international training, and it was very productive.  The two men are Iopil, 36, from Tanna Island, and Joel, 54, from North Efate.  The men were chosen based on their past service to the community and an established focus on improving community livelihoods.  This was their first time ever out of their home country, and so the trip was very significant for them.  They learned so much and we had a wonderful time hosting the men. 

Joel and Iopil learned all aspects of Happy Chickens, from hatching and rearing, feed production and housing, to egg production and breeding.  Now that the trainees are back in Vanuatu, the strategy is for them to train others in their communities and to establish breeding flocks, as well as assisting with the establishment of small-scale hatcheries on each of their two islands.  Follow up is occurring through a local Vanuatu-registered NGO, HCD- Human Capacity Development, which includes getting the required biosecurity the permts to allow us send our improved chicks to Vanuatu, as well as identifying the best local chicken stock for crossbreeding.

The good news is that we have succeeded in getting a grant from Palladium Australia, which will fund materials and incubators to support these new efforts.  In this way, a small project is now growing into permanent, meaningful, and lasting change.  Neither Joel nor Iopil have electricity in their villages, and so they will focus entirely on establishing breeding flocks and producing high quality fertile eggs, while the incubators will be located in the town areas, where electricity is dependible, and operated by others who are being trained and involved in the project.  The fertile eggs will be delivered weekly from the breedng farms to the hatcheries, with the newborn chicks then carried back to the villages and raised for three weeks by Joel and Iopil before they are distributed to the trained community members.  The goal is to over time create a sustainable enterprise that makes a small profit for the families involved, so that the breeding farms and hatcheries can continue on their own with little outside support, within two years if possible. 

We should also say here that the two hatcheries will be established in addition to encouraging natural hatching under broody hens. Hatching under hens is normally sufficient for local farmers to maintain their flocks, once the flocks are well established, but with occasional reinforcement with hatchery chicks, to increase genetic diversity and adequate numbers.  However, it will be many years before the communities become saturated with chickens to the level required for maximizing resources, understanding that the chickens make use of worms and bugs and leaves and waste food, and thus take unusable resources and convert them into usable protein.

Once these two islands, Tanna and Efate, have sustainable breeding farms and hatcheries, we are looking to expand to the islands of Santo and Malekula in 2018.

Thanks again to our donors, who help ensure that we are on our way and making progress day by day, month by month. This work makes such a big difference to the people, to the children, and to the future.

 

 

 

   

Joel and Iopil, Happy Chicken Trainees
Joel and Iopil, Happy Chicken Trainees
Making banana flower salad for the first time!
Making banana flower salad for the first time!

Hello to all the happy chicken supporters... we continue to hatch and distribute happy chicks at an increased rate of 10-12 dozen per week, sold at or below cost, or given to families in need.... which is not always an easy task!   

NEWS! Six months ago we were able to obtain a breed of free range meat chickens “Kabir”, that are originally from Pakistan.  These multi-colored chickens (individuals come in red, back, and grey), grew incredibly fast and we were surprised to find out that they are wonderful foragers- mowing the grass like goats!  But alas, the Kabir chickens are so big that we fear they will do poorly in the hot summer months.  The birds matured a full month earlier than normal, crowing/ laying at four months and fully twice or nearly three times normal size!  We then began crossing the six Kabir hens with our largest hot-weather adapted naked neck rooster, and likewise, the six Kabir roosters were paired up with 40 of our local happy hens.  After two weeks, the eggs were ready for setting in the incuator and we have now gotten several hatchings of Kabir-cross chicks, which we are raising up to see how well they grown and lay.  If they do as well as expected, we will then begin providing them to the communities as a locally adapted, high production, free range meat chicken. Nothing remotely like them is available to the comunities of Fiji.

We have now passed the "fifteen thousand chicks" mark: all hatched and distributed, and with chicks sent all over the country, and into the Cyclone Winston hit disaster islands of Koro, Moturiki, Taveuni,and Vanua Levu. In December we will receive two trainees from the cyclone Pam disaster hit areas of Vanuatu. They will stay for two months at the farm to fully learn the Happy Chicken methods as well other things we at the training centre: chocolate, coffee, virgin coconut oil production, and permaculture. The trainees will then return to their communities to serve as resource people for community workshops and training, building local capacity, much like the women we trained at the farm are now doing on Koro Island!  

We are finally able to export the chicks from the Fiji end, having passed inspection and confirmed disease free for over a year now, and hopefully we will finally be able to get the biosecurity permissions on the Vanuatu side!  If not, we will have to create breeding flocks on site in Vanuatu, as we have done in Fiji- we will .

An additional recent development is taking place in the island nation of Kiribati, where the government and communities have asked for the project.  A single hen's egg on Christmas Island costs $1.20 Australian, imported from Hawaii!  In November I had to travel to Christmas Island for coral reef restoration work, and so I was able to repond to this request. https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/emergency-response-to-massive-coral-bleaching/updates/  The trip was no cost to the Happy Chicken project, but lays a foundation for future work in a promising site, where we will likely be travelling twice per year over the next few years. While there I was able to meet with the head of Agriculture, and inspected an old incubator at his request, but it was too far gone to be used.  The plan is to bring in fertile eggs from the Fiji farm, plus a portable incubator- in June or July when I return for more coral work.  The Biosecurity import “protocols” must be developed and cleared beforehand, as must happen for Vanuatu, so we are working on that now for both countries. 

While on Christmas Island, I met with a group in the London community who are very interested in the Happy Chicken project.  We planted Leucaena, a small, fast growing, nitrogen fixing tree with 40% protein in the leaves- these leaves are mixed with grated coconut and a carbohydrate source (sweet potatoes or breadfruit in the case of this island), to produce chicken feed. This planting ahead of time will help prepare for the chickens when they do come.  In addition to talking about the chickens, I gave the community a workshop on how to cook and eat banana flowers and seaweeds, as vegetables to improve the diet of the community, as vegetables are for the ot pat completely unavailable.  I also helped them start a new seaweed farm, and they taught me how to make sweet coconut syrup by tapping the unopened coconut flowers, similar to how they tap maple trees.  The workshop was great fun, and one of the participants invited me to an evening meeting in another village to talk about the work and the happy chicken methods.  She is also now teaching this community what she learned.  I will include a few photos of these activities, which are both educating the community and building a foundation of trust for the coming chicken project.

Thank you all for your continuing support, which is making a big difference and enriching the lives of poor people- building self-sufficiency and economic independence in remote South Pacific communities.        

Austin

Making seaweed/coconut oil body and hair gel
Making seaweed/coconut oil body and hair gel
Sweet coconut seaweed pudding! YUM!
Sweet coconut seaweed pudding! YUM!
Happy Kabir chickens at three months!
Happy Kabir chickens at three months!
Planting seaweed... free food and fertilizer!
Planting seaweed... free food and fertilizer!
Jack and the super seaweed!
Jack and the super seaweed!
Moturiki participants presenting to the group
Moturiki participants presenting to the group

Much progress has been made in our Happy Chicken Project! 

This month we combined forces with US Peace Corps volunteer Carissa, a Koro Island PC volunteer, who organied a group of five women (plus herself), from the devastated island of Koro in Lomaiviti Province, in the heart of Fiji.

We created a separate GG site for the funding for Koro, so that additional funds could be raised and earmarked for Koro work. Using Happy Chicken funds, we also brought seven additional people from four villages of Moturiki Island to the workshop, located at the Livelihoods Training Centre in the Sigatoka Valley.  These two groups were joined by four additional participants from three communities. 

The trainees learned the happy chicken free-range methods and how to train chickens where to sleep and where to lay, how to make chicken feed from local resources, how to build secure houses of locally available materials to keep the chickens out of the rain and storms, how to breed and hatch chickens more successfully to increase their numbers, and how to care for their chicks in moble rearing pens, etc.  Five mobile rearing pens were constructed by the participants, with two sent to Koro and five pens sent to Moturiki with 150 and 300 chicks sent respectively!  We had earlier hatched and grown the chicks to the three-week stage before sending them, to increase their survival and ability to withstand the trip by car, boat, and carrier.    

Follow up will occur in the coming weeks and months, with assistance from two C4C board members Simione and Suliana, as well as with help from US Peace Corps volunteer Carissa and her replacement.  The vision of the participants, as expressed in the workshop, is to expand the work as lessons are learned, to recycle the mobile rearing pens with new lots of chicks, and to spread the knowledge and chickens to additional villages.  We have assured the communities that many more chicks can be sent as long as they successfully expand the project under increasingly local resources, and as long as we continue to get donations through Global Giving, as the hatchery, shipping, and transport costs must be covered. 

Our hatchery is at peak of season now, with 10-12 dozen chicks hatched per week.  Once we get the new incubator that is being donated by the South Pacific Community, we can then increase to 20 dozen chicks per week, based on present production of the Happy Chicken breeding flocks, and assuming that the demand for island adapted chicks keeps increasing as it has been in recent months. We have with your help so far distributed over fifteen thousand chicks to comunities in Fiji. 

From September the focus will turn to Vanuatu once more, as Fiji Biosecurity assures us that the one-year observational inspection period will finally be completed, and we will at long last become certified as an exporter. Towards the goal of promoting a sustainable Happy Chicken project in Vanuatu, we will be bringing over two youth from Vanuatu to the Sustainable Livelihods Farm in Fiji for training in early October. They will be here for two months and will then return home to begin managing the Vanuatu project, providing training, chicken breeding, and follow up as needed, and saving project funds in the long term. 

Thanks again for all you have done to help this project!

 Austin and the Happy Chicken team

 

    

Making Chicken Feed from Morniga
Making Chicken Feed from Morniga
Workshop exercise by C4C board member Simi Koto
Workshop exercise by C4C board member Simi Koto
Information sharing in the chicken pen
Information sharing in the chicken pen
Some workshop participants holding the new sign.
Some workshop participants holding the new sign.

Links:

Happy Chicken Workshop: making feeds!
Happy Chicken Workshop: making feeds!

Dear Friends,

As mentioned, with the recent Fiji Cyclone Winston Disaster, the NGO community has decided to promote the Happy Chicken project within their community rehabilitation work.  We therefore carried out our first Happy Chicken workshop for the NGO sector, the first week of May here at the Sustainable Livelihods farm in the Sigatoka River Valley.  Twelve participants came from four organizations, plus three nearby farmers also attended.    

It was an exciting workshop for the participants, and we all learned so much  A Happy Chicken handbook draft was circulated to the participants and the participants at the end decided to create  a "Happy Chicken Association", with a facebook page!  https://www.facebook.com/happy.chicken.association/   Please visit and like the page, and see the photos and more detailed information about chickens!  

Just this week we distributed eight dozen chicks in the Sigatoka area, and we also sent four dozen three week old chicks to Caqalai Island for the newly trained poultry farmers of GVI to raise. That site will soon become a taining site for the cyclone damaged villages.  With the cooler weather, our hens are coming into their heavy laying season, so that up to 18 dozen chicks will be hatching per week July through October.  A formidible task to distribte them all, so we are relieved to have other NGOs behind us and working with us now!

Turning to the country of Vanuatu, where Cyclone Pam devastated the islands a year ago in March.  As reported, we completed our first fact finding and training trip in November, but we have unfortunately been prevented (by a lack of legal biosecurity protocols between Fiji and Vanuatu), to send our improved island chicks to the needy communities there.  But we have now been told that the export can happen from September!  We have in the mean time decided to bring 2-3 trainees from Tanna Island for intensive training for 1-2 months here at the sustainable livelihoods farm, to carry back the chicks and skills to Vanuatu with them when they return home.  They will also be trained in the use of small home incubators, which we have ordered, and on their return they will help set up small hatcheries with at-home mothers (with reliable eectricity), as a livelihood and community service.  These trainees will become the trainers and breeders for their island.  This is a very exciting deveopment, and will be the subject of a future report.

Lastly, Fiji Biosecurity has finally given us permission to bring in eight heritage breeds of chickens from New Zealand, for local breeding trials: the famous Rhode Island Reds, Black Australorps, Plymouth Barred Rocks and the like! This will alow us to increase production of the highest quality free range birds, that do well in the tropical conditions of he Pacific Islands. AND lastly the SPC is buying us some new incubators- US $5K worth!  Will wonders never cease....

Thanks and kind regards to each and every one,

Austin

My Dear Friends, 

Progress has been made with a Happy Chicken manual being created for Vanuatu and the Pacific Region.  The planned Vanuatu trip and workshop has now been delayed due to super-cyclone Winston which hit Fiji in February with winds even stronger than Cyclone Pam which hit a year ago in Vanuatu- sustained winds were in excess of 250 km/hr, the strongest storm on record for the region and only 5km weaker than Typhoon Hainan which hit the Philippines two years back.   The focus for now has shifted to Fiji. 

I just returned from the Motuiki Island Fiji site.  I am still in shock. I got off the boat and rushed back for the big weekly disaster committee meeting that is coodinating the relief efforts of the various NGOs. Each org was taking turns telling what they had accomplished. I told the story of the destruction and suffering that I had seen and got all choked up and could not even finish. Houses I had stayed in and where I had eaten lunch and had coral workshop meetings were just GONE, or they only had one or two walls left standing. The waves washed over the three villages and reached far inland and the wind blasted the houses that were on higher ground. We know these people well on a first name basis and know the kids since they were babies and it was just so hard seeing this. Tai and Joe's house in Daku was smashed, Jone and Kasa's house is a pile of concrete rubble, Timoci and Kesaia's house in Uluibau has one standing wall but the kitchen where Kesa made donuts and delicious food for us somehow survived! The fisher woman who used to help us with the coral reef project every time (Lavenia) had her house completely erased by the waves, along with everything she owned.  Fortunately noone was killed- because the storm hit in the daytime, and even some village chickens survived!  But there are a lot of injuries and with clean water hard to come by, skin diseases and infections are becoming common. 

Four Fiji based NGOs have now expressed great interest in introducing the project into their community sites as a food security measure post cyclone, as free range chickens can find most of their food, unlike pigs; which we are advising people to sell now as they will eat food that humans will need in the coming months. Coconut trees are down or badly damaged and while there are plenty of fallen nuts, they will soon be used up.  All other food crops of the communities are badly damaged or destroyed, and so they are existing on donated food rations. 

So many trees down and brown piles of vegetation and very little rain so the danger of wildfire is inceasing as well. One thing I do know is that this is the site most needy of our efforts, and where we will implement all three projects. We delivered three chain saws and will return next week with some two week old Happy Chickens for the women to care for (good for mental health at this time as many need to focus on somethng positive), sweet potato cuttings, corn and pumpkin seeds, etc.

Another NGO, Global Vision International has set up on the lovely reef island of Caqalai, which escaped most of the damage and they are providing transport to and from the villages and a place to sleep and eat, so we are not a burden on the frail village infrastructure. They also will be head-starting the chickens for us and will only transfer them when they are 3-4 weeks old and when the communities have the chicken houses completed (built from the materials of former homes). 

We also will run a three-day wokshop in early April from our farm and hatchery in Sigatoka (which escaped most of the damage), plus visits to advanced Happy Chicken village sites, with selected women from Moturiki plus representatives from other organizations. Trainees will become community resources for the project.  I will personally invite the women mentioned above (Kasa and Levinia and Kesaia), to the workshop due to their leadeship skills and past volunteer spirit.  Thanks again for making all of this work possible!   

 

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Organization Information

Corals for Conservation

Location: Samabula - Fiji
Website:
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Project Leader:
Austin Bowden-Kerby
Samabula, Fiji
$26,787 raised of $40,000 goal
 
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