Three batches of layers were housed in container vans during this period. The production stages ranged from brooding, growing to active laying. The multi-age group batches of layers enabled the farmers to see the complete cycle of litter type layer production in a container van. The performance of the birds from brooding to growing was normal, and egg production during laying was satisfactory. The birds did not exhibit any form of abnormal behavior and vices while they were raised in the container vans.
A workshop on poultry production was conducted July 26–30, 2004. The major emphasis of the workshop was on the results of the project. Extension agents and producers from the Western Pacific region attended this workshop. A PowerPoint file was made out of the grant showing the different grant activities conducted, and this PowerPoint presentation was shown to agriculture students and in a regional workshop in the South Pacific. A desktop publication, in a 4-page flyer format, on the results of this grant will be published. (peer review process)
The collaboration and the cooperation between the Guam Cooperative Extension, University of Guam and Guam Department of Agriculture enabled the grant to continue beyond the grant period. The project site was opened to producers and farmers since the first batch of layers came into production. Visitors to the project site were surprised to see layers producing eggs in container vans. Though the duration of the project expired, the demonstration project is still on going. The chickens are displayed at elementary schools during their cultural fairs.
Although there was no super typhoon that hit Guam during the grant period to test the strength of the container vans, the performance of the birds from brooding to laying proved that chickens could be raised in container vans.
Container vans for egg production are ideal and practical for small-scale poultry producers and poultry hobbyists.
1. To study and demonstrate the practical use of container vans as alternative housing structures for poultry producers in Micronesia.
2. To show the effect of providing proper housing and environment on poultry producers in the region.
3. To encourage farmers to revive the poultry industry.
4. To increase awareness of producers about animal welfare and humane treatment of birds.
5. To produce educational materials of the study such as desktop publications, posters, educational videos and fact sheets translated to the different dialects in the region.
Guam and Micronesia experience an average of 2.5 typhoons a year. These typhoons have winds between 50 mph to 130 mph that can easily blow away structures made of light materials. Poultry production is always greatly affected with a huge loss during typhoons. Worried about what the next typhoon will bring, poultry operators either gave up operating their poultry farms or just provided minimum provisions for housing their poultry.
Old container vans can be converted to poultry houses. As long as the vans are properly secured in the ground, the container vans can withstand the typhoons. The box like structure of the container van makes it very convenient and easy for chicken production. Container vans are durable and can be converted to a multi-purpose utility.
First Year: In the initial phase of the grant, a 20-foot container van was used to house 50 Brown Nicks (Rhode Island x White Leghorn). These chickens were raised in the container van from brooding to laying stages. During the brooding stage, a brooder was placed inside the container van. After the brooding period, the growing chickens were taken out of the brooder and raised on the floor of the container van from growing stage to laying stage. Dried hay and dried banana leaves were used as litter / bedding materials. Five-gallon plastic pails were used as feeders and waterers. Another batch of 50 Brown Nicks were raised in typical open pens from growing to laying. The performance of the birds was recorded and compared at the end of a 6-month production cycle.
In the second and third years, two 40-foot container vans were added to house 200 birds. Each container van housed 100 birds from brooding to laying. The layers were housed in the vans for 20 months production cycle.
The production records on mortality rate, feed conversion, growth rate, incidence of disease and behavior of birds were kept and analyzed.
The overall performance of the chicks from brooding to growing to pullet stage inside the container van was very satisfactory. Morbidity and mortality rate was well within the allowed standard performance for typical poultry houses in the tropics. The growth rate of the chickens was uniform and there was no incidence of diseases and behavioral problems and vices.
Laying Stage: The satisfactory growth performance of the chickens was carried through the laying stage. The birds began laying at 22 weeks and had their peak production at 8 weeks after the onset of lay. There were no behavioral problems exhibited by the birds.
Although no supertyphoon hit Guam during the duration of the grant, the results proved that chickens could be raised inside the container vans with very satisfactory results. As long the container vans are properly secured in the ground. The temperature inside the container van can be lowered by cutting the back or the sides of the van to increase air circulation and air movement.
The grant opened up more alternatives and options for poultry housing in typhoon prone areas. Options include using condemned school government buses or condemned tour buses from private companies. The seats can be taken out and you have an open wide space to raise poultry. Condemned buses are just parked somewhere to rust. Local farmers bought 10 to 25 head of chickens to raise and lay eggs in their backyard. The community benefited by having fresh eggs and fresh wholesome stewing chickens. The demand for both eggs and culls was high from the community.
After conducting a regional workshop on the grant on Guam, participants from Rota organized for a workshop to be conducted in their island. A total of 15 farmers attended the workshop in November 2004. Agriculture major students enrolled in Introduction to Animal Science in Fall 2005 visited the demonstration site and had a hands-on experience in poultry production.
Though the duration of the project expired, the demonstration project is still on going. The chickens are displayed at elementary schools during their cultural fairs.
An exit survey from visitors showed a high appreciation of the demonstration of using container vans for poultry production.
Educational & Outreach Activities
1. The demonstration facility was open to the public, especially livestock and poultry producers, university and high school students. Field trips by elementary grade schools were also conducted. The demonstration site ran for almost 3 years. An agriculture related grant is now continuing the demonstration site. Visitors from Hawaii, Australia, India and Philippines and other regions of the Western Pacific came to see the demonstration site.
2. One regional workshop was conducted on Guam. Participants from Micronesia and Northern Mariana Islands came to the workshop. A tabloid size publication is being peer reviewed. Once the publication is approved for distribution, it will be ready on a desktop publication format.
3. The concept of the grant was also presented during a heads of regional veterinary and animal production services in the entire Pacific region (Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia) conference in Fiji.
4. A raw video clip of the grant was made.
5. A PowerPoint file of the grant was made.
The one hundred layers consumed 25 lbs. of layer feed on a daily basis. This cost $6.25. On the average, 5 dozens of eggs were collected daily. At $2.00 a dozen, this gave a daily sales of $10.00. The daily gross profit of $3.75.
To minimize sales costs, delivery has to be made every 3 to 4 days and has to be a side trip to make with other errands. Or a flea market vendor came to pick the eggs from the farm.
It will only take 15 to 20 minutes a day to refill feeders and waterers. Rain water can be collected to use for drinking water. Dried banana leaves can be used as beddings for the floor and nest. No need to buy straw hay from the store.
The price of a new 40-foot aluminum container van on Guam would be $3,000.00, and around $1,000.00 to transport it to the farm site. A new container van can last for 10 years.
This type of housing may apply to poultry hobbyists and small-scale poultry producers.
The demonstration site for the use of container vans as alternative housing for poultry was open during regular working days at regular office hours since the grant started. The visitors’ logbook would indicate at least 100 producers visited the site. An exit questionnaire survey for visitors was developed for evaluation purposes. Some of the responses indicated amazement and wonder how the chickens could be that productive being raised in container vans.
Although there was no actual duplication or adoption of the setup by any individual producers, awareness was developed on how to be more creative and resourceful in dealing with supertyphoons or hurricanes as they relate to poultry houses and facilities. They saw how used plastic containers could be converted to cheaper and very practical ways of feeding and providing water for the chickens — how local resources and materials can be utilized instead of buying costly imported products. There was increased knowledge in basic poultry production for the visitors and students.
This grant opened up possible options and alternatives with poultry housing and facilities in typhoon prone areas.
Areas needing additional study
The 5-month rearing period of brooding to growing of a day old layer chick prior to its onset of laying can be very costly in terms of the costs of commercial feeds to a typical subsistence poultry farmer in the Pacific region. For this growing period, 100 day-old chicks can cost a farmer $400.00.
A study on the use of local feedstuff for substitution for commercial feeds for the rearing period seems relevant to conduct. During the 10th to 18th week of age of the bird, the protein requirement of the birds decreases. Thus it will be appropriate to feed local feedstuff to the birds during this period because the local feedstuff normally would have low protein content. The cost of the feeds may go down to as much as 40 to 50%.
Another area of study that can be considered out of this grant would be to install wire cages inside the container van to accommodate more birds per van. A 40-foot van can accommodate 200 birds in a litter type management but with wire cages, the number of birds can increase to 400.