Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Chicken Farmer from Vacaville, CA Shares Experience with Haitian Counterparts

First chicken farm visited upon Alexis' arrival in Haiti
A month ago yesterday Alexis Malick-Koefoed, a chicken farmer from California (Soul Food Farm), found herself on her way to Haiti to conduct her first Farmer to Farmer assignment. A fellow rancher and repeat Farmer to Farmer volunteer had directed her to the Program. She gathered all the information she could and headed to Haiti to see what she would find, and how she would be able to help the farmers improve their odds of success.

Her scope of work included assessing the chicken industry, especially analyzing options and nutrition content of chicken feed and working with women farmers to improve their enterprises. With the assistance of Farmer to Farmer and local technicians, the women are trying to increase their understanding of chicken production as a micro-enterprise, which is new to many of them and holds the potential for them to improve their livelihoods.

Students stayed for hours and asked many questions
The first week Alexis visited several farms together with Farmer to Farmer staff. She then wrote a 13 page report of basic chicken care and management which was translated into Creole, and taught a five- hour class to 40 University students about poultry care. At the end of her trip, she spent several hours reviewing notes, photos, and recommendations with staff.

Program staff commented on how Alexis, as a chicken farmer herself, could quickly grasp the realities of her Haitian counterparts. She could infer based on several behavioral observations and other factors that the chickens were largely under-fed, and this coupled with other environmental stresses were lowering the animals' productive potential. Since chicken feed is by far the largest expense and often difficult to access in Haiti, this finding is understandable.

Among Alexis' many practical recommendations are lower-cost herbal remedies (oregano) to improve animal health and other recommendations to reduce animal stress which could be implemented immediately, like ways to improve hygiene by reducing ammonia, and reducing heat stress. As a follow-on to the project, she and F2F field staff plan to have locally-available feed analyzed in a US lab for nutritional content.

It can be difficult to get chicks - these just arrived from the Dominican Republic

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