WHILE talking to a colleague who wants to venture into layer production recently, we zeroed down on the aspect which I have always lamented and I still intend to continue expressing my concern.
It is the failure of invention to solve challenges of the community. We lamented the cost of battery cages which is hovering at anything around US$300 for a 96-bird capacity cage.
A 20-bird capacity cage will set you back by about US$120. The point is why battery cages should be that expensive, after all their design is nowhere near rocket science.
In fact, it is something that an ordinary welder will fabricate without sweating. So why are these expensive?
The answer is simple, they are imported from places like China. The question then is why is our industry failing to fill in that important gap in terms of provision of cheaper portable poultry housing for layer production?
The point of laying chickens will cost you US$10/bird which means for 96 layers you are looking at US$960 plus US$300 for the cages before you can add the cost of feed! It is my honest feeling that our engineering industries and departments in Polytechnics and universities can do more to support the poultry industry in terms of portable housing.
Surely we cannot be importing something that is simply made up of steel wires and plastic for drinking and feeder troughs.
Are we that incapable in our engineering that we cannot produce simple cages to house layers and poultry producers have to fork out so much for imported cages?
It is my view that such cages should be part of the production pack such that when you come to collect your point of layers, you should be able to buy the cages, feed and all the production accessories from one outlet.
I challenge those of us who are in the engineering sector and metal fabrication to come to the party and fill this market gap for such important but simple production equipment.
It is no secret that poultry production in its various forms has a lot of smallholder backyard and cottage producers who will be greatly helped by such products.
Some poultry producers are into broiler production and I see them constructing brick and mortar structures for the poultry housing.
Why can’t we have simple structures that can be assembled and dismantled as and when one wants to.
This will help those that want to produce broilers even on premises which do not belong to them. You cannot be constructing permanent brick and mortar structures on a rented property.
Such solution providing innovations and inventions are important for the growth of the industry and hence they should be taken seriously.
On a separate note, kindly allow me to continue appreciating the work that our police in Matabeleland South, especially in Gwanda district have been doing following an outcry about the livestock thieves in Shanyaugwe.
A lot of positive work has come out of their response which includes arrests of some suspects and recovery of some stolen animals. Just this past week, an audio from the police in Gwanda inviting livestock farmers to come and identify their animals at the Gwanda show ground, was circulating.
A total of 81 animals were penned at the holding facilities and the call was for farmers to come and check the animals and identify theirs.
It doesn’t get any better than this, where there is a community outcry about an issue and the relevant authorities come out in full force to address the issue.
Let’s have the onslaught on Shanyaugwe thieves sustained until the syndicate and the culture of stock theft is completely decimated. Uyabonga umntakaMaKhumalo.
MhluphekiDube is a livestock specialist and farmer. He writes in his personal capacity. Feedback firstname.lastname@example.org/ cell 0772851275