By Pfc. Christopher McKenna
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Public Affairs Office
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq – Six chicken farms in the Mahmudiyah Qada received 5,000 chickens each to help further the poultry industry Aug 1, 2008.
"This is the second cycle of farms which have been given chickens," said Paul Heidloff, the Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team lead agribusiness advisor. "Twenty-four farms are set to receive chickens throughout the cycle, with six receiving chickens every two weeks."
This cycle of chicken distribution is scheduled to flow directly through the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
"We are on 45-day cycles, starting with the distribution of the chicks until the full-grown chickens are brought for slaughter," Heidloff said. "The first group that received chickens will see the front end of the holiday, where the final group will see the end."
Heidloff said chicken prices go up during the holiday, and the farmers are expected to see a much greater profit, ranging from $4,000-$6,000 each.
"One major contributing factor to increased profit is the fact that the farmers had to put 40 percent of their profit from the first cycle back into the Bashaeer Al Kayeer Poultry Association of Mahumdiyah," said David Speidel, embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team. "Funding for this cycle has come from the poultry association, as opposed to Commanders' Emergency Relief Program funds."
The farms selected were individually chosen by the poultry association. Some of the farms chosen received chickens in the initial cycle in April, and several new farms received chickens, as well.
Speidel said it's important to note revitalizing the chicken industry is not just about building up the poultry house, but also building a network of people to run the industry.
The farmers are being trained on maintenance of their equipment as well on how to properly care for the chickens to achieve the lowest possible mortality rate. To meet that goal, the chickens are sprayed with a vaccine to help prevent disease.
"If it comes down to using medication we will supply light antibiotics; none of the chickens produced in this area use any type of hormones," Heidloff said.
Each farm with chickens distributed is expected to have full-grown, ready-for-slaughter, broiler chickens at the completion of each 45-day cycle.
This work, Second push of chickens distributed to farms, by PFC Christopher McKenna, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.