The proceeds from poultry business seems high during festive period . That was exactly what my parents thought when they ventured into poultry farming in May.Our vision for the business was to be the No1 supplier of christmas chickens in our street come December 2014.
We invited a professional poultry farmer over who lectured us intensively on how to manage one successfully including the type of feed at different growth stage, housing conditions, light, medicine etc
Prior to that, we had eight local chickens and one large agric broiler we rear for domestic purposes like crowing, playing ( I have this weird habit of talking to animals) or slaughtering when an unexpected august visitor shows up.
Done with the setup, we kick-started the business with 170 one day old chicks and 12 sacks of feed.
Everything seemed rosy. l was positive the business would boom beyond leaps that I wouldn’t have to look for a job anymore.
Three days after, 7 of the chicks died. We assumed it was the collateral damage of transporting fragile 1-day old birds.
Three months later, our losses hit a total of 32 birds. We also noticed they were growing at a very slow pace.
Four months and a little over 110 chicks left, our business hit the breakeven mark. Their size from a distance seemed large but on a closer examination, they weighed light. Technically, they were only adding weight in their feathers so we topped their diet with supplements.
We noticed a improvement in their weight but the mortality rate was still rising progressively.
Most of them died at the slightest provocation. To put it mildly, the birds were getting too emotional for my liking. I couldn’t even speak to chickens like I usually do for fear that I might make an offensive joke and they will just withdraw somewhere to commit suicide. Notwithstanding, dying was still their principal hobby.
I would go in to top their feed and before I get done, there would be one casualty. Improper man handling of the birds while changing sawdust and another dead bird would surface. You give them water to drink and one will choke on the water and die.
Every morning, we had to check the poultry house with a shovel in hand cos there was always a damned bird to bury.
Meanwhile, the domestic fowls who ate from the contents of our waste bin, suffered kicks from my siblings and slept on trees were thriving better with zero mortality.
The height of it all was the day the large agric broiler which was the alpha cock died.
It took ill four days before and refused to respond to treatment. We were all having a family time at the backyard when my dad told my kid brother to bring it out so he could inspect it. I will never forget that day!
I was sitting by one corner, sipping lucozade boost with crackers.
Suddenly, the alpha cock started vibrating and making weird sounds. “Its dying. Its dying.” My dad screamed. “Bring me that your lucozade boost now!”
Gobsmacked, I rushed over to meet him and he snatched the energy drink from my hand, used his hands to forcefully open its beak and emptied it into the chicken’s mouth, drenching it in the process.
The chicken died a few minutes after.
Knowing my parents are hypertensive, the look on my mum’s face broke my heart.
We were done with the business.
We released all 81 of them so they could roam freely and survive the way local chickens did.
The whole compound became a mess with chicken poop everywhere. *Sigh*
Surprisingly, the death ratio dropped drastically. However, we had a new challenge which was thieves. Our fence is pretty low and we couldn’t tell if it were a dog or a human being that took 7 of the chickens in two nights.
The following day, my mum had to go from restaurant to restaurant looking for who to auction the chickens to.
The restaurant that agreed to buy from us insisted we dress the chickens or they were going to patronise their regular supplier.
Suffice to say, that’s how I ended up as a chicken butcher.
I was allotted 15 of the chickens to behead. (My siblings took care of the rest.) A chicken genocide took place in my compound that day. I was so disgusted with all that chicken blood. If I had my way, I would have preferred to strangle them for the shit they put us through.
We eventually sold everything at a loss except for 3 which are going to kill tomorrow in honour of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Sad story right?