At a time when many persons are sitting idly by, complaining about the lack of employment opportunities, there is one Jamaican who, through hard work and dedication, has created a successful poultry business in the hills of St. Ann.
On a visit to the 1,700-chicken farm in the community of Chester, owned and operated by Lenford Peart, it becomes obvious that the facility is run by someone who enjoys his work. The coops are in pristine condition, the water bottles and feeding boxes are clean, and the birds are healthy with shiny plumage.
“Poultry, including layers, are very expensive to keep because you have to keep your birds in very good condition”, Mr. Peart tells JIS News.
The farmer recovers 970 eggs per day from a coop of 1,100 birds but there is another coop of 600 birds that are going through the moultering stage, where they shed feathers so that new growth can take place.
Most of the eggs are sold to hotels in the area, which purchase 200 to 300 dozens per day while community members and other businesspersons buy the rest. But seven years ago, Mr. Peart did not think his farm would have grown to this extent. From a struggling business with only 12 chickens in 1996, he has expanded his farm to 1,700 birds, largely through financial assistance from the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA).
“I started with a dozen chickens but along the way I found that I was struggling, so I went to MIDA and explained the situation that I would like to extend my business so I was asking for a loan, and they told me the requirements which I got, and I obtained the first loan of $80,000,” he tells JIS News.
Being a good client, who serviced his loan on time, MIDA agreed to give him a second loan of $200,000 to purchase 1,000 layers. But, bad luck struck and within three months, all 1,000 layers were dead. “But God help me to pick up back, so I went back to them and the committee met and decided to lend me another $50,000, which I used to purchase 650 birds, and today I have 1,700, and I don’t have a problem paying my debt”, he says proudly.
Late last year, Mr. Peart was granted a fourth loan of $250,000 for further expansion. With that money, he intends to add another 1,500 birds by August to bring the total to 3,200.
In recognition of his commitment to poultry farming and for being a good client, Mr. Peart was recently named ‘The St. Ann’s Bay Community Development Fund (CDF) 2003 Client of the Year’. The CDF is the local lending agency of MIDA.
Commending Mr. Peart on his success, MIDA Field Officer, Camille Johnson, says he is a dedicated client who always pays on time, “and he believes that with hard work and dedication, one will be able to achieve maximum success in life”.
Thanking MIDA for its assistance, Mr. Peart says, ” If it weren’t for MIDA I would not reach where I am today, so anyone who needs help, go to MIDA.” He is also advising persons who wish to go into the chicken-rearing business to spend a lot of time and effort taking care of the birds, as without proper attention, the stock will die.
“In taking care of the birds, you should not allow anyone who is not a part of the production to come into the coop. Also, the floor should be properly covered with sawdust to prevent the birds from getting corns on the feet, and the pans must be kept in good condition”, he says, adding that “these pans must be kept clean because if the birds eat from dirty pans, the eggs will spoil earlier and there will be complaint from the customers.”
He notes that the water bottles should be washed every morning and the water changed and the laying boxes should also be kept clean to prevent health hazard for the birds and the persons attending to them.
“The egg-box should be cushioned properly so that when the birds lay, the eggs will not crack, because that is your labour, and when you come to pick-up the eggs you will have less cleaning to do”, he points out.
He says the birds must have proper lighting. “That is how the birds become productive”, he explains, adding that the light helps to develop the eggs, as well as give them the brown colour”.
Mr. Peart indicates further, that the birds should be provided with medication and de-wormed every three to four months. This, he says, “will allow the birds to look shine and healthy, and the eggs will be big and red, because once these fowls lay white eggs, it means that they need medication”.
He advises that, “if the flock develops any disease that you are unable to manage, you should go to see the veterinarian. Try no remedy of your own; seek professional help”.