Farmer counting losses after chicken deaths

A local poultry farmer is at a loss as to how 1 200 of her chickens mysteriously died within mere weeks.

“I bought 1 900 birds in five different batches, three 300 batches, and then 500 in the last two weeks. In the third batch of 300, I started to lose chicks like crazy,” said Tamikia Skeete, of J&T’s Healthy Foods, who was at the time operating from Factory Road, Charnocks, Christ Church.

This incident occurred four months ago and Skeete said that she was concerned about how quickly they died. She took the dead chicks to a private veterinarian, Derek Griffith, who told her that the cause of death was likely the feed being contaminated – a condition called mould toxicosis.

Some weeks after the incident, more began to die.

“Some of the other batches were doing well and then at four weeks we started to see 66, 67, sometimes 30, 70 per day dying,” she said.

She then took five of the birds to the veterinarian again and was told the deaths were likely linked to an issue with the feed, which she has bought from a third-party-supplier.

Skeete then took a copy of the report from the veterinarian, a sample of the feed, and receipts to the manufacturer Pinnacle Feeds, which is a subsidiary of Roberts Manufacturing.

However, she made it clear that all her feed was bought from a third-party supplier, and not directly from Pinnacle.

The poultry farmer said she was then told that her complaint had to go before a committee before a decision was made on the matter.

However, Skeete said this is well over two months that no one in charge at the feed manufacturing company has reached out to her.

“I was trying to find someone to speak to. I asked to speak to a manager, and I was told there is really no one to speak to because it was being run by a board of directors,” she added.

She said she then learned that the testing of the feed samples had not yet been completed, which added to her frustration.

Skeete revealed that she has incurred about $30 000 in losses due to the deaths.

“It’s frustrating because Barbados is not cheap and it’s a lot of money that gone down the drain.

I was renting a facility at Charnocks, Christ Church for $800, but couldn’t any longer due to the losses. I don’t think the situation was handled good enough,” she contended.

Skeete is, however, trying to pick up the pieces and operate from home, noting that her husband built a pen in her yard which could hold up to 200 birds and they plan to expand.

Her plight was made public after she made a video on social media where she talked about what she was going through and many members of the people reached out to her and offered support.

Chief executive officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society, James Paul, said the situation highlights the need to have adequate laboratory facilities in Barbados.

“Unless we are able to have laboratory facilities in Barbados, the veterinary report can say what is likely, but to establish what the situation really is, that is difficult,” he said.

“Before what used to happen is that when issues like these arose, farmers would be able to consult with the Government lab and get a full report on the cause of death in birds.”

He, however, emphasised speculating the cause of death could be reckless and underscored the importance of having a more equipped lab on the island.

Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers’ Association president Stephen Layne also said that while the island does have qualified people to conduct testing, the Government laboratory lacks adequate resources.

“The lab is short of all the equipment. However, there is a commitment to the best of my understanding to get the lab up to standard to do post-moratoriums,” he said.

Layne also disclosed that he will be contacting the feed producer to discuss the matter, but noted that they could see the deaths of chickens could be a result of a number of factors. He gave the assurance that his association will do its best to have the matter resolved as soon as possible. (AL)



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