Thursday, May 22, 2008

Black and White

Not all of them are white. Some of them are black and some are grey.

These coloured chicks were considered as ‘freebies’—they arrived on the same day as these white birds here, and were not included in the count, they were called extras, and were given free by the hatchery. My workmate said that these ‘black chicks’ have been noted of being weak and poor growers, they usually die before the catch (harvest).

Unexpectedly, they remain healthy and alive just like these white birds! They grow well in their opulent shed. They should, I reckon, because they've been given the same attention, the same beddings, the same feed and the same drinking water.

I admire the relationship of these chicks. In their small, contained world, they’ve managed to live in harmony with each other despite the difference of their colour and (possibly their) race. I believe their ‘kinship’ and special affinity with each other are their secrets of staying happy and healthy throughout their entire life.
They will only live for 52 days or even less, yet their short life span doesn’t just happen to give us meat. These sensible creatures also exist to show the world the importance of loving one another.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

First Lessons

Starved, dehydrated, chilled and died!

I am always in trouble of those chicks that are getting out of the brooding area. I come to think that our brooding boards and fences may not be perfect to keep these little birds inside the heated space. I really couldn’t understand why these little yellow creatures would choose to escape from the comfortable environment and the abundant fodder inside.

I am greatly concerned about these chicks. Even if it means longer working hours for me (we don’t have overtime pay, but the fixed rate here is better than my previous job), I would still devote my time chasing after them so I can catch and take them back to the artificial brooding room.

But the next day they’re out again! Some chicks would still choose to be out and be free! They seem to be very curious about the things outside, that they prefer to stick to their own judgement and follow their own will.

Unfortunately their judgement and will are always mischievous, and the result? These hard-headed chicks would often get starved, dehydrated, chilled and were eventually discovered dead.
For rational beings, like us, who are gifted with intellect and free will, it is not good to follow them.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Genuine Love

They were only a day old when they arrived here in the farm. We house them in a shed that costs more than a hundred thousand dollars, with straw beddings that cost a hundred and twenty dollars per bale. They are being brooded in a computerized, environmentally-controlled room—the temperature, air flow and humidity has been closely monitored and modified from time to time to suit their living requirement. There is a lighting program to provide enough brightness even in the middle of the night so they can eat and drink if they want. Their feed is a mixture of special grains and is very nutritious, formulated by the best animal nutritionists of the country. We make sure that their drinking water is always available, potable and uncontaminated.

They have the comfort of modern facility, the skilful handlers and the special husbandry but still some of them have stunted growth, others are weak and a few dies. Sometimes I would think that our management practices might not be enough, and the computerized controls are not always perfect, of course.

Despite their luxurious lifestyle, I don't and will never envy them. They had been artificially hatched from the machines and were immediately taken to the farm. They haven’t even seen their dams; they are being deprived of the genuine brood of a real hen!

I am very lucky and thankful because I have been experiencing the love and care of my mother! Happy Mother’s Day (to all the mothers out there)!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Nether World

I had my break from blogging last week. After four weeks of busy body because of the (late chicken grow) mortality collection and overnight all-out catches (harvest), I was given a week of paid relaxation. I had decided to set aside my quill that time and travelled to the Barossa Valley and Wallaroo to explore a bit of my new workplace.

This week we are very busy again! Though we didn’t do the shed cleaning and disinfection (the contractors are doing it for us), shed preparation before chick placement is our responsibility. After the contractors had laid a bed of chopped wheat hay on the floor, we put a long sheet of paper, just below the drink-lines, and spread a liberal amount of grains on it. Understandably, the chicks wouldn’t occupy the whole floor area of the shed upon arrival, so we used boards to install temporary fences and hanged some laminated sacks to create (a relatively) enough brooding area.

The brooding area should be pre-warmed twelve hours prior to chick arrival. The target room temperature is 32’C.

At around 1:30pm today the chick van arrived. We then unloaded the chicks at 40,000 heads per shed! The work was not easy. We drove the Ute inside the shed with the chick crates on it, and dumped the 100 young birds into the brooding litter, crate by crate.

After unloading the first 10,000 small, yellow creatures, the Ute had to be driven back to the main door to load the remaining crates (from chick van) and it has to be taken inside the brooding room again until the 40,000 chicks were completed.

Since I was not the Ute driver, I had to stay inside the very warm brooding room in between batches and waited for ten to fifteen minutes. I opted to check every water nipple and feed pan (to make sure they are working well) than to mock around the heated space while waiting for the next flock.

While the LPG-generated heater was blowing hot air into the area, the dust, the chick feathers and the smallest particles of the chopped hay were being diffused making the environment warm, murky and itchy! I had my dust mask but the very distinct stink of the newly hatched chicks and the smell of the dry wheat straws were penetrating into my nasal cavity. I was profusely sweating and had a difficulty in breathing!

While waiting for the last batch of chicks, I can’t stand the heat, so I decided to get out of the brooding room through the side door of the 120-meter long shed to cool myself and to breathe a fresh air. Whew! At that very moment I pondered—if a dusty 32’C room is abysmal and dreadful, how much more in...? (Just like anybody else, in this life) I have to make sure I’m travelling to Paradise!