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Baby chicks (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

Jamaica Broilers Group responds to local shortage of chicks

Baby chicks (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

Jamaica Broilers Group (JBG) has embarked on boosting the supply of baby chicks to small farmers through its Hi-Pro farm stores as the island is facing an impending shortage of chicken meat and eggs.

The group is, therefore, taking steps to reintroduce its second hatchery to its production line as more Jamaicans turn to chicken farming as a source of income, further increasing demand for chicks.

“We are preparing our second hatchery at Cumberland, Portmore, in readiness for any additional demand. Persons are turning to chicken farming for a living, now that competing imports have been significantly reduced in the market.  So JBG is getting ready for demand over and above what we anticipate,” Colonel (Retired) Jaimie Ogilvie, who has responsibility for JBG’s baby chick retail business, said.

Pamella Scott (left), chick attendant, looks on as Colonel (retired) Jaimie Ogilvie, vice-president of Hi-Pro Division, makes a quick check on the quality of baby chicks being released for sale. (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

Food security in a time of COVID-19

The farm store operator and poultry manufacturer also pointed out that despite Hi-Pro maintaining the same level of chick supply to the market as it did last year July and August, the strong surge in demand is also due to Government-imposed coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions on businesses in April and May earlier this year.

To this end, in addition to preparing to reintroduce its second hatchery, JBG will place emphasis on sourcing additional fertile hatching eggs to ensure continued supply to the hatchery operations in support of the sustainability of the sector.

“While we have every confidence in the local poultry industry to fully meet the increased demand, escalating the production of baby chicks is not an overnight occurrence.”

— Colonel (Retired) Jaimie Ogilvie, vice-president of Hi-Pro Division, Jamaica Broilers Group

Ogilvie further indicated that the increased levels of activity in the sector by the thousands of small chicken farmers will allow them to regain their livelihoods, spur further growth in the sector, and contribute to the overall economic recovery of the country while boosting food security.

He noted, however, farmers who plan to increase the production of chicks must take into consideration the natural timelines included in the process, such as the 21-day hatching cycle of the birds.

“While we have every confidence in the local poultry industry to fully meet the increased demand, escalating the production of baby chicks is not an overnight occurrence.  However, we can assure our small farmers that we have heard their concerns and are putting operational plans in place to respond to their sustained demands and will continue to do so to ensure that our community will #GrowStrong again,” Ogilvie stated. 

JBG Hatchery Manager Lori Ann Thwaites checks the count on a box of day-old baby chicks before releasing same to Hi-Pro Chick Sales. (Photo courtesy of Jamaica Broilers Group)

Economic opportunities

According to Ogilvie, the Government’s policy initiative aimed at reducing the importation of chicken products has also presented economic opportunities for JBG to boost production capacity in response to current market conditions, as well as meet the needs of local poultry farmers.

Small farmers are major contributors to the poultry industry, supplying up to 40 per cent of chicken meat to Jamaican consumers.