Iraqi Chicken Farms Continue Growth, Face Challenges
By 1st Lt. William Perdue, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq, Mar. 17, 2008 Chicken farming in Iraq is moving toward pre-war levels, as coalition forces work with farmers to overcome challenges.
Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, are working with Iraqi chicken farmers to help them improve their farms’ capabilities. Courtesy photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Dialogue has begun on how to increase production with the owners of seven chicken houses in the region where the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, operates.
The community of Abu Lukah, one of the first areas where soldiers discovered chicken houses, has four chicken houses, three of which are functioning. The first visit by the unit was at the end of January, during which the owner, Abdul Sataar, had just begun a new cycle. Recently the unit revisited Chicken House No. 1 to check on the status of operations. It had been about 35 days since the arrival of the first batch of chicks, and in about 10 days the chickens would be ready for sale.
Of the initial 7,500 chicks, only 210 died during this cycle, a 2.8 percent loss for Abdul Sataar. He will sell the chickens to the highest bidder from the Baghdad, Karbala or Hilla markets.
“This is an absolute success story,” said Capt. David Stewart, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-7th Infantry Regiment. “Abdul conducts his business without coalition assistance and is able to maintain profitability.”
Recently, four other chicken houses were discovered in the Abu Jasim area. Two had about 2,000 chickens and were able to produce seven crates filled with 350 eggs each. The farm is operating at about 50 percent of capacity due to limited electricity and fuel to run the generators. Profit from the eggs is being used to buy fuel and to keep the farm running, Stewart said.
The other two chicken houses face the same challenges, Stewart added. They have 24,000 white chickens and 18,000 red chickens, and are able to produce 77 crates of eggs daily.
Because limited electricity affects their capacity, the farmers are unable to sell chickens and to produce feed to sell at the market, Stewart said. The short-term solution is to replace the generators. The famers now have three generators, two of which need repairs.
The long-term solution, the captain said, is to get off the generators and use industrial power. Efforts are going to be focused on fixing the power to greatly impact the community, Stewart added.
(Army 1st Lt. William Perdue serves in the public affairs office of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.)