News: Chicken farms operational, but face challenges
By 1st Lt. William Perdue
4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – Chicken farming in Iraq is moving toward pre-war levels, as coalition forces work with farmers to overcome challenges.
There are about seven functioning chicken houses in the region where 3rd Battalion, 7th infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division operates, and dialogue has begun with the owners on how to increase production.
One of the first areas where the unit discovered chicken houses was the community of Abu Lukah. It has four chicken houses, three of which are functioning. The first visit by the unit was at the end of January during which the owner, Abdul Sataar, had just begun a new cycle. Recently the unit revisited chicken house number one to check on the status of operations. It had been about 35 days since the arrival of the first batch of chicks, and in about 10 days the chickens would be ready for sale.
Of the initial 7,500 chicks, only 210 died during this cycle, a 2.8 percent loss for Abdul Sataar. He will sell the chickens to the highest bidder from the Baghdad, Karbala or Hilla markets.
"This is an absolute success story," said Capt. David Stewart, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-7th Inf. Regt. "Abdul conducts his business without coalition assistance and is able to maintain profitability."
Abdul Sataar's concerns, however, are the chicken price and competition from the import market.
Recently four other chicken houses were discovered in the vicinity of Abu Jasim. Two of the chicken houses had approximately 2,000 chickens and were able to produce seven crates filled with 350 eggs each. The farm is currently operating at about 50 percent capacity due to limited electricity and fuel to run the generators. The money that is made from the eggs is being used to buy fuel and to keep the farm running, Stewart said.
The other two chicken houses also face the same issues, Stewart added. They have 24,000 white chickens and 18,000 red chickens, and are able to produce 77 crates daily.
The chicken farms, due to limited electricity, are unable to operate at 100 percent capacity. They are currently unable to sell chickens and to produce feed to sell at the market, said Stewart.
The short-term solution is to replace the generators. Replacing the generators would allow the chicken farmers to operate at a higher capacity. Currently they have three generators, two of which need repairs.
The long-term solution is to get off the generators and use industrial power. Efforts are going to be focused on fixing the power in order to greatly impact the community, Capehart added.