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!

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