DIARY OF A POULTRY FARMER: Why I’ll not quit poultry keeping despite tragedies

Friday November 24 2017

Ms Ann Wanjiru feeding her Shaver Brown layers

Ms Ann Wanjiru feeding her Shaver Brown layers chicken in Maishani,Elburgon in Nakuru County.PHOTO|FILE 

By SUBIRI OBWOGO
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After his loyal dog mauled his 130 hens that had just started laying, farmer contemplated quitting the trade but he will not do it just yet

A week ago, I shared a tragic incident involving my loyal dog that went berserk and mauled 130 hens that had just started laying eggs.

Following the incident, I had contemplated closing my poultry venture altogether but I have come to learn that readers have different ideas.

To say the least, I have realised that farmers are among the most empathetic persons based on the messages I received, which made me reconsider my decision of quitting poultry keeping.

Hobby

If you recall, my venture into poultry farming started as a hobby, which I pursued during my free-time over the weekend.

I started small to learn from my mistakes, and I have recounted them here several times.

One thing is that we mostly learn from doing and it doesn’t matter how much we read from books or listen to expert advice (technical knowledge), there’s no amount of preparation that can replace the practical knowledge that only exists in use.

However, when things go terribly wrong as they did, the risks can sometimes outweigh the benefits, making it easy to give up. I, therefore, appreciated the words of encouragement from readers.

The first reaction came from Mwangi Kagunda, a poultry farmer from Ruai who suffered a similar fate six months ago.

Words are worth a million shillings

When I enquired what action he’d taken, his answer sounded familiar. “The vet said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” he surmised. “We’re planning to get rid of her.”

Another reader, Karimi Wamai from Embu, armed with a sense of twisted humour told me: “I found the piece interesting, sad and hilarious.” I appreciated the humour in the face of tragedy.

Karimi told me he would’ve have missed out on the story were it not for his septuagenarian father who brought it to his attention.

Phares Okara, on the other hand, made me realise that words sometimes are worth a million shillings.
She wrote, “I always look forward to reading your articles and whatever you decide, never stop writing.” She continued, “I know you’ll pull through. We really depend on you daktari.”

I further learnt that readers are eagerly waiting to read about the ‘weird chickens’ with mystical powers that I recently introduced to my farm. I promised not to disappoint them.
One reader even advised me to seek divine guidance because if you recall, some people associate the birds with distinct features with a bad omen.

Reinforcing the kennel

Others wanted to know what action I’d taken. Of course, you can’t discipline an animal. Apart from reinforcing the kennel, I don’t plan to get rid of the dogs for now.

What I know for sure is that the demand for chicken meat is high during this festive season and the risk of thieves breaking in far outweighs that of marauding canines.

I’ve also consulted a few dog experts and they agree on one thing: The ‘earlier you train a dog to control its impulses, the better’.

In my case, because the dog has already killed my chickens, it may be too late to rehabilitate it. The least I can do for now is to ensure that the chickens are well locked away from the canine.
I’ve also added a chain link around the chicken pen. I can’t trust the dogs alone with the chickens anymore.
One big lesson I took from this is that people know from their own experiences that life isn’t a bed of roses and they’ll relate to a story more if it has a few twists and turns along the way.