A Page in Time
The South African Poultry Magazine Poultry Calender - Work Of The Month
(By J.J Jordaan, Poultry Instructor, School of Agriculture, Glen, O.F.S.)
Most poultrymen and women are well acquainted with the warning and appeal given some years back, and the resulting misery, havoc and setback to the whole world through the advice not having been accepted in its fullest sense when our present King warned “England to wake up.”
The writer wants to say this month to all poultrymen and women in South Africa: Wake up! Become alive! Produce and organise! And reach a rich harvest as a result. There is every reason for the action above recommended, while on the other hand delay will mean not only setback, but also the death of a young growing industry, an ultimate loss to our country and nation, and financial loss to many that are involved in the poultry business.
All people interested in other sections of agricultural and industrial development are awake, alive, and laying themselves out and combining to make South Africa economically great and selfsupporting in their particular sections.
For years poultrymen and women have been looked upon as leaders in their enthusiasm and organisation. Whether this is to continue depends entirely upon individuals. Reader, upon you and me. Are you fully awake and taking your part as loyally as you should? If not, start now. Wake up! The war and its aftermath gave us an opportunity to get some of our goods on the overseas market at most favourable prices. Did you, the producer, get the benefit of this? Or who did?
The hold we got is once again being most seriously challenged. Organise as well as produce, and thus retain, and benefit in, this profitable overseas market. Do not let others wrench it from us or allow them to grow rich and fat on the results of our labour and outlay.
Our export is just in its infancy; it must grow, and that can only come about by increased production, which means the work (of export) must now be done through the right channels. The producers must be the exporters, for if they allow their trade to develop through the middlemen they will always be working for others. They will not get their fair share of the returns, but be underpaid for their capital outlay and labour, and this is anything but encouraging to development.
If the present system continues, the poultry industry will not grow in proportion to the other sections of agriculture (in spite of our shouting and boasting) and it will be left at the post by Government and others (for instance, newcomers, wanting to invest capital). Rightly so, they can only encourage, support and invest in those sections that show signs of real life and returns.
Studying our census returns an ugly fact appears. Numbers of poultry in the country are dropping fast, and to an alarming extent. We must look facts in the face, if they are to be remedied.
The clip statement that it is only the mongrel poultry that has been killed off, was correct at one time, but now, and during the last 12 months, tens of thousands of good, pure bred stock have been sent on to the morning market or disposed of, to butchers to save the “food bill.” Whole flocks of suck stock have been disposed of in many instances, and upon inquiring why,
the only answers that have been forthcoming are: “The high price of foodstuffs,” or “The tempting prices for table poultry.” That class of poultry keeper, known as the smallholder of backyarder, could not profitable produce eggs or table poultry at the prices he got in South Africa, foodstuffs being too high. Lack of organisation prevented him getting the prices ruling overseas, that could have been his through export. He therefore sent his birds to the market. Farmers could and still can produce more cheaply, but through lack of organisation did not get nearly the prices for eggs that were paid by the consumer. The town producer’s output having been reduced to the minimum, dealers easily captured and controlled the supply coming from farms and were able to manipulate the market and consumers’ prices accordingly.
Having woken up to the dangerous position the poultry industry is in, but being fully alive to the possibilities it has for those that are prepared to move. I would ask: “Are you moving, reader?”
When did you last visit a fellow poultrymen’s yard and discuss his birds or invited him to visit yours?
How about speaking to your dealer about a special for your show, or the laying competition, or a donation for your club?
When were you last at a committee meeting?
Are you aware of the fact that during the last month or two foodstuffs have dropped 50 per cent in price? Have you ever suggested a meeting of those interested to start the club, or start a co-operative buying or selling depot for your club or association, and what practical advice or assistance have you given?
It is possible to go on in this strain for a long time, but one does not want to pile on the agony. Let us own up frankly we have been asleep, but, at least be able to say we have woke up again.
We can best move by putting into practical effect some of the following or other original ideas, according to the local requirement, conditions and surroundings, or using our talents and time available on, say, the following lines:
Tackle the municipal authorities about the disposal of eggs and poultry by weight, both on the morning markets and through legislation, while forcing local storekeepers and others to do likewise.
Push this question at municipal election time, and support only the candidates in favour of this progressive step. Write about it in the local press and educate the public on the points. Visit the morning market and point out to the morning master sick birds, advise him to refuse to sell them, and endeavour to secure the support of the M.O.H. to order their destruction. If the above is only done once or twice it would cause a stir and a seven days drop scandal. But what of that? The poultry interest would score. It would be brought to the public notice and would benefit, sooner or later, a live association of poultry enthusiasts, and would be appreciated by the bulk of the local inhabitants, as a practical body, watching that one of their articles of food was fit for human consumption. Occasionally visit the railway stations and draw the attention of the proper authorities to crowded and poor coops, egg boxes etc. If tactfully done, this intervention will be appreciated.