No more fowl play, ex-teacher's Pretoria east chicken trade thrives
Pretoria - Despite having a highly sought after academic qualification, chicken and egg farming has become the clucking day job for Pretoria mother of two Esther Tererai, 42.
She is a qualified teacher, holds an honours degree in HIV/Aids management and is studying towards her Master's Degree at Stellenbosch University,
“Farming is not what I am trained to do, but managing 800 chickens I'm getting educated daily. As a woman, there is nothing you cannot do.
“I am the one who drives to buy feed for the chickens, and spend my day in this chicken run, feeding them. A woman must be self-reliant,” she said as she collected eggs from nest boxes in the vast chicken runs.
“If I had quit, as I considered during lockdown, my business would have gone down the drain. As businesswomen, we face challenges every day and we take lessons from there. In my kitchen, I raise chicken for meat and eggs and so do other women. I am not trained as a farmer but through reading, one can learn and practise.”
In two years of chicken farming, having reared and sold around 4000 birds, and selling thousands of eggs, Tererai says the higher levels of the Covid-19 lockdown from March were the most challenging and almost decimated her business.
“Over that period, thieves stole around 1000 chickens from me and left me with almost nothing. Sometimes I would get to the Vastfontein smallholding and found that they slaughtered the chickens on the premises or sometimes took them as live birds. It was devastating,” she said.
“I told my husband, who has been very supportive, I wanted to quit . The thieves would take all the roosters, which are big in size and ready for the market. Nothing was spared even the vegetables we were growing to feed the chickens would be stolen too.”
After much consideration, Tererai took around 100 chickens into her house’s double parking garage along Lynnwood Road in Pretoria east, and gave some of her livestock to friends in Bela Bela, Limpopo, and in Gauteng for safekeeping and feeding during the “crisis”.
“I am really grateful to my neighbours. Can you imagine hens at egg-laying age quacking in your neighbour’s garage every day? My husband and I went knocking on our neighbour’s doors and explaining. A friend at church also gave us a place in Limpopo where we put another batch.
“It was a huge favour. At times we had to travel from Pretoria to Bela Bela to vaccinate the chickens. We also had given some roosters to a friend in Pretoria to keep for us. The 200 chickens stayed in Bela Bela, and we had given another 40 roosters to another friend until through God’s providence we found this place along Lynnwood Road through a good friend, where we are now comfortably operating.”
The Lynnwood Road premises was secured through a friend who runs a popular plant nursery. “This was a God-given opportunity. We can even walk there from home and you will find me here every day of the week. My day is spent with these chickens,” said the former Zimbabwe teacher.
As the government relaxed the Covid-19 lockdowns, her chicken business is now blossoming again with exotic breeds, popular as pets, now also thriving at the new premises.
African News Agency (ANA)