Tuesday, 19 March 2013

These chickens crossed the road

In Swaziland, as in most other countries, egg farms are not Shangri-La for the hens. At any point when they are not producing eggs at the optimum rate, they have reached their expiry date, regardless their age. Personally I do not even want to think about what happens next. However at Luyengo Fresh Produce there are some chickens that have a happy tale to tell.
Farm manager, Tiekie, keeps a few chickens at his home near Malkerns. His rooster, Hendrik, was recently challenged by a younger off-spring and Tiekie realized one of the boys would have to go. He decided to bring the beautiful, but older Hendrik to the farm at Luyengo. He then went looking for some hens to keep Hendrik company and headed to the local egg farm. Here he bought three hens that were on death row. 
Tiekie says these hens hardly had any feathers on their bodies and they literally could not walk. He kept them in a big chicken run he built just behind the nursery on the farm. He fed them but kept them behind a closed gate. It breaks ones heart to hear that these chickens did not come out into the sun for a few days and to learn that they gradually learnt to walk again. After a few days Tiekie opened the gate for them to venture out but the chickens were not that brave yet. In the mean time Hendrik saw them and was so afraid. His previous harem consisted of happy healthy free range hens covered in shiny plumage.  
It is three weeks later and there is lots of good news. The hens have ventured out of their run and have become so confidant they roam all over the farm now. They are doing what hens should be doing so naturally: foraging for worms and insects. Their feathers are growing back and they are starting to look healthy. They have put on weight and they are starting to rewards us by producing an egg each a day.  One hopes to think that at night before these chickens fall asleep, they say thank you to be living on Luyengo Fresh Produce now.