PILFERING: THE BURDEN OF EVERY FARMER
The worry of every business owner is pilferage. I’ll tell us a quick story.
Some time ago, I observed that the Hen Day Production (HDP) of my 35weeks pullets was roughly 90%. I was enjoying my birds. I mean after rearing them for 18months, checking their weights gain, regular sorting of birds, prompt vaccinations and medication, adequate lightning programme, quality feed formulation, etc. The rearing phase management I must confess was tedious. In the end, it paid off because my flock was doing well. I mean with 90% HDP, life was good.
Suddenly, by week 37, my farm manager (Abuchi) called me and said “Oga, egg production today is 80%. I was not bothered, probably because I was thinking, it’s one of those days. Next week, he called again and said it has dropped to 70%. The private investigator within me sprang to life.
I resumed very early the next day, I checked their feed. It was okay. I observed the water supply system. It was in check. I did gross post-mortem; I couldn’t find anything of economic importance. I checked all management factors, still, there was nothing concrete to hold onto. The next production was increased to 75%. I concluded;
Hmmm, they are coming up gradually.
The next week, they went back to 70% HDP. I called Abuchi, I asked him everything I needed to know about the state of the flock. He said all was well and good. He even suggested I should invite my Vet. Friend which I did and the Doctor said ‘’nothing is wrong’’ but we should take the birds to the laboratory for analysis. After analysis, there was no concrete diagnosis. I spent the night on the farm, all was well but production was not increasing.
Next day being Friday, I had to attend church vigil for the first time in a long time; casting and binding my village people tampering with my daily income. I prayed like No mans’ business. Subconsciously, I settled for 70% HDP thinking that’s how the universe wants it.
One Sunday afternoon, I drove to the farm, prior to this, I had informed Abuchi that I will be travelling to Lagos. I later changed my mind due to some unavoidable circumstances. I got to the farm towards the close of business and saw the highly trusted Abuchi selling more than 10crates of eggs at giveaway price to market women. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s how Mr. Abuchi have been stealing and selling my eggs and I was thinking my village people were at it again.
Pilfering is a major challenge for all business owners especially poultry farmers. A little mathematics:
1 crate of eggs: 850
In a week: 850 x 7= #5,950
In a month: #25,500
The problem with pilferage aside the cost implication is;
a. The trauma of thinking you have a sick flock
b. The stress of checking to ensure everything is placed
c. Overthinking about the possible causes of low egg production
d. And then the added expenses of buying drugs that are not relevant including the services of hiring a consultant.
The sad news is pilferage is a constantly re-occurring process that will need consistent surveillance by the business owner. Constantly, create critical control points for operations in the farm to check theft and other sharp practices. Most recorded cases of pilferages have been orchestrated by the staff of the farms, just like my beloved Abuchi
Sharp practices on the farm may occur in different forms. These include;
a. Stealing of eggs
b. Procurement of fuel/diesel
c. Procurement of unnecessary drugs/vaccines
d. Stealing of chicken meat presumed dead.
e. Intentional slaughtering of chickens which will be presumed dead and accepted for disposal.
f. Illegal movement of raw materials (e.g. feed, equipment) outside the farm
g. Stealing of drugs and vaccines from the farm for personal use.
h. Procurement of raw materials
There are various ways of minimizing theft in the farm but complete eradication is relatively impossible.
Some means of checking these sharp practices include:
a. Don’t owe your workers their salaries or withhold agreed benefits.
b. Create critical control points involved in the movement of the products from one unit to another.
c. For large intensive systems of operations, create an Internal Control/Audit unit to consistently investigate all transactions within the farm.
d. To prevent external theft, procure dogs which will be trained to monitor activities especially in the night hours.
e. Generate policies that aggressively address theft, state clearly the punishment for such activities and enforce the judgement to the full extent.
f. If possible, employ the use of technology in the farm. Installation of Hi-tech gadgets such as CCTV and other security applications.