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a534: Chickens in Haiti (fwd)

From: Ken/Jenni Bosma <bosma@worldteam.org>

Raising chickens in tropical zones is much more difficult than simply buying
chickens and giving them food and water, especially if one wants to produce
eggs. The greatest problem is viruses. The good thing is that Haitian
chickens have become more or less immune. The problem is that Haitian
chickens will only lay a limited number of eggs before their instinct to
hatch them takes over. At that point they quit laying and "cover" their
eggs. Hybrid chickens in the States have been breed to lay egg after egg,
day after day. But they are extremely susceptible to deadly viruses found
throughout the tropics.

There was a Baptist missionary living near Cap Haitian (I don't remember his
name) that was trying to cross-breed chickens to achieve a Haitian chicken,
immune to viruses, that would lay and lay and lay eggs. I don't know the
status of his project at this point.

Another problem is one of feed. Haitian chickens can survive by scratching
for bugs and plant leaves with very little supplemental feed. But, they
don't grow very big nor reproduce very fast. It is a wonderful system for
providing a little protein now and then for a rural family, but to get any
kind of production going requires supplemental feed (which is prohibitively

Almost anyone who has tried to raise chickens in Haiti will tell you, the
most economical solution is to buy the imported chicken legs and thighs that
are imported from the States. American chicken has been a boon and curse in
Haiti. It is truly less expensive, but it has virtually eliminated local
initiative to raise chickens. Here in Jeremie, we can buy 3 large imported
legs and thighs for 50 goud (just less than US$2). A whole Haitian chicken
weighing, at best, 1-1/2 lbs. costs at least 75 goud (US$3). In Aux Cayes
last month I had to pay 200 goud (US$7.75) for one Haitian chiken! But I
will admit that the local chickens (free range) certainly have much more
flavor than the meaty imports.

There is an organization in Florida that has books available on all phases
of tropical agriculture. If the orphanage is determined to raise chickens, I
would certainly buy some books from ECHO first. Their website is:

Ken Bosma

Jeremie, Haiti