Crisis management at the hatchery
This story is one in a series from Frances Chisholm highlighting stories of lives impacted by World Poultry Foundation programs and workshops both in the U.S. and abroad. We encourage you to learn more about Ms. Chisholm and our poultry projects in South Africa.
We caught up with Fortunate Shivambu a tumultuous year after she attended a WPF-supported Hatchery Management course at the KZN Poultry Institute in South Africa and had set off to grow her young hatchery business.
“Everything was going well. The incubators were running at full capacity, the hatching rate was 65-70 percent, and I had a big jump in revenue,” said the young entrepreneur. But the halcyon days came to a halt with a disease outbreak in the country and consequent egg scarcity; her hatching rate fell to as low as 35 percent. Increasingly frequent power outages also wreaked havoc, culminating in an electrical fire that filled her hatchery with smoke.
The nadir was December 2021 with a batch of eggs she could only call, “a mess.” “The hatching room was so quiet, I cried.”
Fortunate, however, is nothing if not determined. She took stock, literally. She knew the importance of parent stock quality and switched to a major egg supplier. “It was a good decision, my hatching rate soared to 85-88 percent.”
That was the first step; Fortunate still had to re-build her clients’ trust. “I had to re-gain what I had lost.” She had observed that her clients often packed too many chicks into one house, hadn’t prepared the house with the proper ventilation and temperature on delivery day, and biosecurity measures were often slack. “Farmers assume that the hatchery is always at fault,” she said, but she recognized there was room for improvement on the receiving end, too. To get relations back on track and improve her buyers’ success rate, she now visits all her clients and advises farmers on measures to ensure her chicks and her farmers both thrive.
It’s a slow climb back to her peak hatchery production rate, but Fortunate is optimistic and “still in the game,” she says, despite drained financial resources. “I make each day my masterpiece. I am not starting from scratch but from experience.”
Power to you, Fortunate!
Ms. Frances Chisholm
Friend & Supporter of the WPF
Learn More About Frances