We love chickens. Our cocoa trees love chickens. But our termites and other harmful insects hate them. Whenever you want to start with cocoa farming, and you want to do this organically, we strongly recommend you to also buy a bunch of chickens. Free eggs, free chicken meat (if you are not a vegetarian), free organic fertilizer and a free organic pesticide. Not only your cocoa trees but also
1. Chicken Manure As Fertilizer
A normal chicken is able to produce a minimum of 130 gram of manure per day. Quickly calculating does this come to 47 kilos per year. Chickens can never digest their food completely. A lot of nutrients from their food are leaving their body half absorbed. As a result chicken manure can provide even more Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to your cocoa plants and your soil then, for instance, organic cow manure. Fresh chicken manure contains – according to a study in Ghana – about 70% water, 25.5% organic matter, 1.63% nitrogen, 1.54% phosphorus and 0.85% calcium (1). And even better: you don’t have to make any effort; chickens will leave their manure at your trees rightaway.
2. Free-running Pesticides
Termites were really a plague at our cocoa farms. We didn’t know how to battle them in a non-chemical way. Termites especially target young cocoa seedlings. Many of our cocoa plants fell prey to the voracity of these small farm residents. Once you have termites located at your farm, it is very difficult to get rid of them. The speed at which they reproduce is phenomenal. A termite queen can produce up to 34,000 eggs per day! A true nightmare. But for our chickens it is heaven. Since we decided to keep chickens at our cocoa farms, the number of termites reduced with an estimated 80%! In India poultry farmers even grow termites to feed their chickens. But for sure you know that a chicken diet is by no means limited to these creepy creatures. Almost anything that crawls or runs on six or eight legs is a welcome snack for our active hens. Spiders, ticks, crickets, grasshoppers and even flies are having a hard time to survive since the arrival of our winged friends.
3. Fresh eggs and fresh meat
For most people eggs are an obvious part of their daily meals. And eggs from chickens who walk around freely at your farm taste so much better then the regular eggs you buy in a city supermarket. Coming back to the country where our farms are located and to us Cambodians: we are sometimes a bit like chickens. We learned to eat almost everything. We are – as an example – famous for our love of crickets and tarantulas. And when it comes to eggs, we not only love soft or hard boiled eggs but also boiled (duck) eggs that contain a developing duck embryo inside. It is one of our favorite street snacks. We call it pong tia koun ( in Khmer: ពងទាកូន).
You will be amazed as well by how rapidly your amount of chickens will increase. This will give you the opportunity to kill one of your chickens from time to time (sorry vegetarians) and enjoy the wild taste of real farm chickens.
4. Alarm clock
I talked about four good reasons to hold chickens at your cocoa farm. The last one may not the best option for late sleepers. But assuming that you are a farmer, you probably are an early riser anyway. And in my opinion nothing is more inspiring to welcome a new day then the sound of a rooster. Yes roosters may not have the best vocals among birds but at least they are original.
- 1. https://www.modernghana.com/blogs/811734/how-to-process-chicken-manure-into-organic-fertilizer.html
- 2. https://www.instructables.com/id/Growing-Termites-for-Feeding-Chicken/