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Farmers seeing smaller eggs, chicken after feed crisis

Possible shortage on horizon, says RADA parish manager

Published:Saturday | January 21, 2023 | 12:54 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Lenworth Fulton, JAS president.
Lenworth Fulton, JAS president.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaicans are being placed on alert for a possible shortage of chicken meat and eggs towards the end of March, heading into April, as a result of a recent animal feed shortage.

Dwaine Josephs, deputy parish agricultural manager for Westmoreland at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), noted that the shortage, which rocked the local agriculture sector a few weeks ago, resulted in the deaths of many birds, both broiler chicken and layer hens, based on reports from farmers.

“If all these reports are true, I would say at the end of the first quarter of 2023 into the beginning of the second quarter then we might feel the impact of probably chicken availability and egg availability,” Josephs said when pressed by Cebert McFarlane, councillor for the Leamington Division in the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, on the impact that the feed shortage has had on the production of chicken meat, eggs and milk.

Josephs said that the withdrawal of feed for broiler production, in particular, could result in stunted growth if the animals survive, which would mean a decline in the quality of the meat.

He said that at least one farmer has reported that from about the second week of January, his layers have not been producing any eggs.

When Councillor Ian Myles of the Little London Division asked what RADA has done to mitigate the projected shortage, Josephs said that strategies to prevent any further loss in production were being implemented in case there is a repeat of feed shortage.

“What RADA Westmoreland has been doing to stem or try to mitigate against any future feed shortage is to have farmers expanding their production into corn. For those who rely on concentrate, as it relates to goats and cattle, we want them to revert back to pasture-rearing of the animals ... .”

Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) President Lenworth Fulton agrees that there could be a shortage of chicken meat and eggs stemming from the feed crisis last month.

“It could have some effect because it was a slowing up of the rearing of broiler chicken from mostly small farmers, who have roughly 40 per cent of the market,” Fulton told The Gleaner on Thursday.

“There might be a shrinkage of about 10 per cent. I don’t think it will be greater than that, but it will have some effect. If you notice that the eggs that you are getting now are smaller because of the crisis we had …It will have some negative effects, but I don’t think [it will be] bad enough that it will give the market a serious shock,” he continued.

Fulton said that despite the crisis, small farmers were still getting a small amount of feed, which will result in smaller birds being slaughtered now.

According to the outgoing JAS president, some of the major broiler companies have reported that they have a significant amount of chicken meat in their cold storage and that their contract farmers were not severely affected by the feed crisis that hit the country late last year.

albert.ferguson@gleanerjm.com