Motlatsi Mile at the chick storage.
Writes : ‘Makarabo Mats’umunyane
Motlatsi Mile is a dedicated Mosotho farmer, who has an intense passion for keeping indigenous and exotic species of poultry. His farm is located in Mazenod, where he keeps a variety of poultry ranging first and foremost from different types of chicken, ducks, turkey, etc. for commercial purposes.The farm carries out all the processes necessary for poultry production, including laying eggs that will be hatched at the farm, using modern hatchers. Mile said that what induced his desire to produce indigenous chicken, is the unique and quality taste of the meat they produce. From childhood, his family used to keep native Sesotho chicken and he could readily taste the difference in the chicken they ate at home and that which is commonly found in the sophisticated market. He decided at an early age that when he had a home of his own, he would keep native chickens for his household. Mile started producing and importing different types of poultry and producing chicks.
As mentioned earlier, the farm focuses on producing different types of indigenous breeds of chicken which include: Opingtons, Brahmas, Susex, Black austrolops, White Plymouth rocks, Naked necks, Silver wyan dots, Splash, Polish chicken, Potchefstroom chicken, etc. These all have their different and unique properties which in turn lead to different tastes and types of meat that will be produced from each kind. Some of these breeds are native to other places such as Polish chicken that is named after the country Poland. Furthermore, there are also ducks and a few turkey, since the ultimate goal is to diversify as much as possible when it comes to poultry industry. Each breed is kept separate from the other, in different pens, to avoid cross-breeding. One/more cock(s) and one/more hen(s) are placed in each pen. Production processes range from laying eggs to hatching the eggs to produce chicks.
After being hatched in the hatcher, the chicks are then grown in a small housing until for three weeks when commercial scale chicken and other types of poultry in June, 2015 after he took a one week course on poultry at the South African Research Council in Pretoria. He then started buying they can then be able to survive the conditions of the large house, after which they will be allowed to roam freely on the ground. Once the chickens are grown enough, sales are open to anyone who wishes to buy. Moreover, Mile pointed out that feeding the stock is not a challenge to them since they possess plenty of land where they grow maize, sunflower, wheat, cabbage etc., some of which the poultry can graze on. Older chickens are kept close to these fields where the crops are grown. The major challenge that faces the farm is cold weather in winter which slows down the rate of laying, hence reducing the number of eggs. However, he explained that they can overcome this challenge by increasing production in summer to a great extent. To achieve this, they have resolved to increase the number of hens and also to buy some more hatchers.
One of the necessary requirements in the Summer for the hatchers to perform well is constant cooling to maintain a constant temperature inside the hatcher. This is normally achieved by passing cold water through the surface of the hatchers, thus, water is of utmost importance in the hatching process. Mile said that in the past, water that was used to cool the hatchers would be wasted due to flowing out into drainage and could not be recycled, but the farm has advanced its operation by building a cooling tank. When using a cooling tank, vast amounts of water are saved because water is circulated only between the incubator and the cooling tank, with minimal water loss. While the incubator transfers heat to the water when the incubator is being cooled, warm water flows back to the tank where it is cooled and used again. In addition, Mile said they are also going to amend their system by installing a pressure pump so that water moves at a higher pressure, consequently increasing the rate of cooling.
The minimum success rate in hatching is 65% and it can sometimes go up to 80% and according to Mile this is a satisfactory production rate.Last but not least, Mile said that they are preparing to undertake an artificial insemination course at their farm which will help them to advance their operation and in turn improving their breeds.
Modern egg hatchers. Polish chicken kept at the harm
It is commonly perceived that native chickens are kept by old people or those who have nothing to do in villages. On the contrary, this great initiative that is run at Mazenod has proven otherwise. Even with regard to our native plants, birds or animals, new approaches and means can be embraced to improve their production and to add more value. There are so many of such opportunities that remain unexplored up to date, it is high time that new business opportunities arise as much as wisdom, innovation and education offer. Ultimately, with the arising awareness of GMOs and the alarming rate at which health risks are escalating, it has been proven that native chicken meat is much healthier than that which is commonly found in the popular market. Likewise, meat of native chicken is said to have a lower fat composition when compared to that of broilers commonly found in the markets.