By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
An Abaco poultry farm says it is presently operating at just 25 percent of its pre-Hurricane Dorian capacity as it slowly recovers from the category five storm’s devastation.
Lance Pinder, operations manager at Abaco Big Bird Poultry Farm, told Tribune Business it is currently building another barn to add to the three erected since Dorian struck in 2019. The new barn will be completed before the end of the year.
The farm had five barns before Dorian, but Mr Pinder said he plans to add three more to the four he hopes to have by year-end. The expansion to seven barns is required, he explained, because the new barns are “considerably smaller than what we had prior to Dorian, so I will need to double the space in order to get back to the level of production I had”.
“That fourth barn will be finished by the end of this year. With labour and materials, the cost to build one barn is about $60,000,” Mr Pinder added.
Mr Pinder also lamented that he has to construct the barns on the same crown land he had unsuccessfully sought to acquire from the government since the original lease ended some six years ago. He is now into his second 21-year lease of the same parcel, and said: “Unfortunately we are putting our barns back on the same leased land.
“We went back into this with the promise that we would be able to buy or own the property that we will have these chicken houses and stuff on, but nothing has happened with that as of yet, which is a little upsetting to us because we weren’t sure about going back into this and now I’ve got several hundred thousand reinvested on this land.
“But as it stands now I’m at 24 percent capacity compared to what I was pre-Dorian, so we have a long way to go.”
Abaco Big Bird has received $50,000 in grant funding from the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), and has been using this - together with the insurance proceeds from the hurricane-damaged structures - to assist with the farm’s reconstruction.
Due to the fact that Abaco Big Bird farms “broiler birds”, and not “layer birds,” Mr Pinder said he has not been able to exploit the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources’ distribution of more than 12,000 layer birds to various farmers across the country.
“Layer bird distribution is easier,” he added. “I guess it’s a simpler operation to get people into, and you don’t need all of those facilities and stuff like that. But it all needs attention, because when you are doing meat birds you have slaughter houses, and you have refrigeration equipment and everything else.
“But if you are doing small egg production then you don’t need all of that because, even with fresh eggs, you don’t have to wash them and you don’t even have to refrigerate them.”