Chicken farm struggles as sales plunge
A major chicken farm in St Catherine has been forced to reduce its stock density by 25 per cent due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Valdez Bullock, managing director of the Chicklock Farms Ltd, situated in Kitson Town, said the reduction in his production capacity comes as a result of a fallout in the market for poultry meat.
"Chicken sale has fallen by some 30 per cent since the virus hit Jamaica. As a result of this, we are experiencing longer turnover time for the birds," said Bullock, whose firm is a major supplier of chickens to Jamaica Broilers.
"It is quite noticeable that consumers are just not buying as much chicken, some people are out of a job, while some are finding other alternatives. The hotel sector, which has been a huge consumer of our chicken, it is also out, so all these factors have added to the reduced sale we are seeing," Bullock told THE STAR.
Chicklock Farms, which has eight permanent employees and a few temporary helpers, has been in business for more than 15 years. It had pumped up its pre-COVID-19 production capacity to 205,000 chickens in each stock, which is supplied six times per year to Jamaica Broilers Ltd, distributors of Best Dressed Chicken.
"Right now, we could be down to three or four yearly supplies instead of six, and this will have a far-reaching economic impact on our operation," Bullock said.
He added: "Despite this, I am fighting very hard to keep my employees, trying to retain them during this period, so that I don't have to go out and rehire when this cycle has passed."