From the Field

Poultry Training Pays Off

Poultry Training Pays Off

November 24, 2022 / World Poultry Foundation / Share:

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.

Start-up broiler farmer Thutego Matlala was distressed at the high mortality rate of her first cycle of 500 broilers. The young South African had shifted from layer to broiler production, but after the first cycle, she knew she needed training to make it in this new business.

Through social media and a local support group she learned about and enrolled in the five-day Poultry Production course at the KwaZulu-Natal Poultry Institute, supported by the World Poultry Foundation.

It has made all the difference.

Thutego liked the practical sessions most of all. “I learned the difference between A grade and B grade chicks. Now I tell the supplier I want only A grade.” The chicks’ weight is important, she added, “also check its navel, its eyes – they should be wide open, round and shiny. And the feet should be shiny, not gray. If you suspect a problem, turn the chick on its back, it should roll over and get up within seconds.”

Regarding temperature control, Thutego had previously warmed the coup only with infrared lights; now she also uses an open fire and chimney. She also realized she had too many birds in too small a space. By reducing the next cycle to 200 birds, then 300, she succeeded in reducing mortality to no more than 10 chicks. Proper coup preparation was another important takeaway: “The wood shavings should be down, it should be warm, open the curtains a little for ventilation and have food and water ready.” During course downtime, she was all ears as larger-scale participants discussed how they time cycles.

Thutego sells to the live market. Looking ahead, she has her sights set on expanding and meeting peak demand over the Christmas and Easter holidays. She would also like to organize transportation to sell at a nearby busy shopping complex, especially at month-end when consumer spending peaks. She’d also love to sell freshly slaughtered chickens to reduce her feed costs, and she ponders operating a hatchery, as chick supply can be unreliable. But, she comments, “one step at a time.”

Determined, clear-headed, with her eye on the ball, Thutego soaked up KZNPI’s training. A half year later, she has the production and vision to show for it!

Ms. Frances Chisholm
Friend & Supporter of the WPF
Learn More About Frances