The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and its subsidiary group, the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers’ Association (BEPPA), will be putting measures in place to assist a small farmer who lost about 30 000 chickens to heat stress over the weekend.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY on Monday, chief executive officer of the BAS James Paul said that the Lemon Arbour St John farmer, who is contracted by Chickmont Foods, met with the management of the association and BEPPA to discuss support.
Although he did not go into details, Paul added that farming entities also wanted to be a part of the discussions between the entrepreneur and the Barbados Light & Power Company.
“The electricity at the farm was disconnected because the farmer had arrears on his bill,” Paul said.
“We are going to work with the farmer to see how this situation can be cushioned because we understand the loss . . .We understand the position of both parties and we would want to see how we can help to resolve this issue.
“These are tunnel pens that have about 40 000 birds and these birds generate a lot of heat. That is why you need a cooling system to keep the heat down,” he added.
Paul said that the birds died sometime between Saturday and Sunday morning, adding that when the farmer realised the electricity was off he tried his best to regain power.
“He was told he had to pay and he went and paid online and even after paying online it took a while before they reconnected it but by then it was too late. The birds were without the fans operating for a while and the heat in the pen went up to an unacceptable level. That produced heat stress to the birds, where a lot of birds died as a result. If it was turned on in a more expeditious manner, recognising the loss there . . . maybe the outcome would have been so much different.”
A video of men taking the dead birds and placing them into bags made the rounds on social media on Sunday night with a caption suggesting that bird flu was in Barbados.
Agriculture officials publicly declared the claim was false.
Meanwhile, Paul said the 30 000 dead birds meant $300 000 in financial losses for the farmer. He said it would take a year for him to get back on his feet.
The BAS head said the small farmer’s back-up generator had also malfunctioned on the day in question. He added that the farmer also had an application on his phone to inform him if there were any electrical issues and the application failed him.
He said this situation should serve as a learning experience for other farmers, to ensure that their back-up systems are functioning in case of an emergency.
Repeated efforts to reach the poultry farmer were unsuccessful.