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6.3 Profile of Layer Survey Sample

Table 6.46 to Table 6.53 show the profile of the survey sample of layer farms. The description of the sample profile is divided into 8 topics.

6.3.1. Farm Characteristics and Contractual Arrangement

The samples of 96 farms are from 5 provinces, which are Chon-Buri, Chachoengsao, Lop-Buri, Sara-Buri, Nakhon-Ratchasrima, and Nakhon-Nayok. Of these 5 provinces, two are in the eastern region of Thailand, which are Chon-Buri and Chachoengsao, and the others are in the northeastern region. The largest sample comes from the eastern region, which is the main egg producing area in Thailand during the present time (Table 6.46a).

Chon-Buri and Chachoengsao are also the original egg producing site in Thailand, while the production in the other regions follow later. This can be reflected partly by Table 6.46b, which says that a high proportion of farms in Chon-Buri and Chachoengsao, 46.43 percent and 72.92 percent respectively, age more than 10 years. For other provinces, except Sara-Buri, more than half of the sample farms are less than 10 years old.

The farms are divided into 3 groups characterizing small-scaled, medium-scaled, and large-scaled producers (Table 6.46c). The highest number of farms (42.7 percent) in the sample are in the small-scaled category, possessing 1 - 10,000 mature layers. 33.3 percent of the sample farms are medium-scaled, possessing 10,001 - 50,000 mature layers, and the 24 percent of the sample left are large-scaled producers, possessing more than 50,000 mature layers.

As expected, the larger-scaled farms tend to have the bigger land area (Table 6.46c). For the large-scaled farms, most of them (91.30 percent) operate on the area over 20 Rai's. 53.13 percent of medium-scaled producers own more than 20 Rai's of farm area and only 19.51 percent of small-scaled producers own more than 20 Rai's. Chachoengsao and Chon-Buri are the provinces where the large farms in term of land area locate. Actually, these large farms may not be only the large-scaled producers, since only 14 of the sample farms in Chachoengsao are categorized into large-scaled farms, but 26 of the sample operate on over 20 Rai's of farm area. The close feature occurs also in Chon-Buri, where 5 farms in the sample are large-scaled farms, but 12 of them own more than 20 Rai's of farm area.

All of the sample farms do not commit in the activity of feeding parent stock to produce chicks (Table 6.46d). Actually, the business of chick producing in Thailand is in the hands of only few agricultural conglomerates. For the study's sample group, 59.38 percent of them buy 1-day-old chicks from these conglomerates and grow them into mature layers for eggs. The rest (40.62 percent) buy mature layers from other farms and feed them for eggs. Most of the large-scaled and medium-scaled farms, at the proportion of 91.3 percent and 65.63 percent respectively, commit both in the process of growing chicks into mature layers and feeding these layers for eggs. Only 36.59 percent of small-scaled farms grow chicks to mature layers. This observation can tell us that larger-scaled farms tend to integrate the process of chicks growing, which may yield them better profit in the business.

Most of the sample farms, about 94 percent, are independent ones (Table 6.46e). This reflects the nature of underdeveloped contract farming system in this industry, especially among the biggest producing regions of the country. All large-scaled farms are independent farms. Also, less than 10 percent of the producers in both small-scaled and medium-scaled categories involve in subcontracting.

Of the 6 subcontract farms, 83 percent, or 5 of them, are under Charoen Pokphand Group, the biggest agricultural conglomerate in Thailand (Table 6.46f). All the subcontractees' contracts are price-guarantee ones. In addition, most of the subcontractees are the modernized farms, implementing the Evap. houses and modernized machinery.

Table 6.46g shows that the larger-scaled farm tends to be owned by more educated owner. More than half of the small-scaled and medium-scaled farms' owners are primary educated. In comparison, 56.52 percent of large-scaled farms' owners graduate from vocational schools. None of the sample farms' owners has baccalaureate degree or higher.

6.3.2. Employment and Capital Investment

Twenty-five percent of sample farms do not hire workers (Table 6.47a). Most of them are small-scaled producers and operate under family labors. Most of the large-scaled producers hire more than 20 workers, some hire 10-20 ones. Peculiarly one large-scaled farm hires only 8 workers. This means the farm hire less workers than many medium-scaled farms. All small-scaled farms hire 6 workers or less.

More than 60 percent of sample farms hire at least one permanent worker (Table 6.47b). Only 12 farms, which employ workers, do not hire permanent worker. In comparison, 82.29 percent of sample farms do not hire daily worker (Table 6.47c). This finding can be explained by the fact that larger farms tend to hire more permanent workers. More than 70 percent of both medium-scaled and large-scaled farms, which employ workers, do not hire daily workers to make their labor factors stabilized.

All sample farms do not hire veterinarian and only 4 of them employ animal husbandry (Table 6.47d). Since many farms can implement veterinarian and animal husbandry services from their feed and drug suppliers, they may feel employing these workers redundant. Peculiarly, one small-scaled farm hires animal husbandry. Among workers, the biggest group is the ones with Prathom or less than Prathom education. Only 6 farms, which hire workers, do not hire Prathom or less than Prathom graduates. Only 8 farms out of 96 sample farms employ Mattayom or vocational graduates and only 8 farms employ baccalaureate graduates.

Most of the sample farms, as high as 91.67 percent, employ family labors in their farms (Table 6.47e). Peculiarly, among the three farm size categories, the one that possesses the highest percentage in hiring family labors is large-scaled farms, of which 95.65 percent implement family labors.

As expected, farms do not want their layer houses to be too small or too big. The houses should be at the optimal size. Hence, large-scaled farms tend to have higher number of houses than small-scaled and medium-scaled ones (Table 6.47f). Most of the farms in Thailand (94.79 percent) implement open houses, which require less technical operating knowledge and investment. 14 out of 96 sample farms operate on Evap. houses. This also implies that 9 farms implement both types of houses.

Being in the original producing site, farms in Chachoengsao and Chon-Buri implement Evap. houses in the smaller proportion than ones in other regions. Only 8.33 percent of sample farms from Chachoengsao and 17.86 percent of sample farms from Chon-Buri commit in the Evap. technology (Table 6.47g). Huge investment is the main factor deter farms from such technology.

For the development in the previous five years (Table 6.47h), 28 farms of the sample commit in the change in layer breed. Mostly, the farms that change the breed are small-scaled ones. However, the proportion shown may be caused by the proportion of each scale category of farms in the sample. There may be another factor bringing this change. Looking at the location of these farms, most of them locate in Chachoengsao (13 out of 28 farms) and Chon-Buri (13 out of 28 farms). Hence, the farm experience may be the factor. Since farms in these provinces are older than the others, the long experience may bring the change of layer breed to these farms.

Only few farms in Thailand adopt new technology in feeding layers (Table 6.47h). Only 5 of the sample farms adopt the Evap. technology. Actually there are totally 14 sample farms own Evap. houses, but some of them are new farms and some of them operate with Evap. technology since started. These 5 modernized farms are in Chachoengsao and Chon-Buri.

For other development, only 4 sample farms buy auto-feeding machine and only 11 sample farms buy eggs grouping machine in the previous five years. Most of the farms adopt these changes are in Chachoengsao and Chon-Buri. In part, farm in these two provinces have longer experience, which may be the drive to the changes. On the other hand, farms in other provinces may adopt these technology since started; hence, the changes in the previous five years cannot be observed.

The latest development can tell us another interesting thing in the layer business in Thailand. With a few addition, only small proportion of the sample farms own auto-feeding and eggs grouping machines, which implies that the feeding process and the egg grouping process are mostly still under the human labor. This can reflect the nature of labor-intensive technology of the business in Thailand.

The fix cost in this study is calculated as the annual depreciation of the fix assets of the farms, excluding land. This cost will be divided by the number of layers in the farm and shown in Table 6.47i. The table can support the previous argument that farms in Thailand are rather less capital intensive. Only 13.54 percent of the total sample farms invest their annual fix cost more than 25 baht per bird. Many farms (as high as 20.83 percent) invest only 5 baht per bird or less than that in doing their businesses. This pattern does not vary across the scale of production of firms. Peculiarly, subcontracting farms, of which many of the houses are Evap. houses, invest their annual fix cost only in the range of 5 - 15 baht per bird.

The previous two paragraphs firstly seem to go against Table 6.47i, since this table tells us that 57.29 percent of the sample farms report that their ratios of annual labor to capital costs are equal or less than one. The annual capital cost in this table is also the annual depreciation of the fix assets of the farms excluding land, while the annual labor cost excludes the shadow costs for labors of the owners and the owners' family members. However, all these tables can go along with one another, if we realize that the return to labor in Thailand is quite small relative to the return to capital. This difference in the compensation rate is the main cause to make Table 6.47j alienate.

Twenty-eight out of 96 sample farms commit in the short-term borrowing (Table 6.47k). The four main sources of short-term borrowings are commercial banks (35.71 percent), governmental Bank of Agricultural and Co-operation (35.71 percent), relatives and neighbors (21.43 percent) and village funds (7.14 percent). The large-scaled and medium-scaled farms commit in short-term borrowing with the commercial banks most (50 percent in both categories), since they can access to this channel. Small-scaled farms borrow mainly through governmental bank. Small-scaled and medium-scaled farms also benefit from the governmental village fund program in short-term borrowing.

For the long-term borrowing (Table 6.47l), 39 out of 96 sample farms commit in this type of borrowing. The main source of long-term borrowing is commercial banks (66.67 percent). The governmental Bank of Agricultural and Co-operation is the second largest source (20.51 percent), while the co-operations (5.13 percent), relatives and neighbors (5.13 percent), and village fund (2.56 percent) are less popular in long-term borrowings. Peculiarly, there is only one response says that it borrow from the village fund in long-term and the response is in the large-scaled category.

6.3.3 Sources of Input

For the topic of sources of input the layer farms used, we start with the feed input, which is the most important and costly input of the farms. Table 6.48a indicates that the largest group of the sample farms (40.63 percent) implements instant feed with their layers. The second largest group (36.46 percent) is the one using both mixing feed and instant feed and the smallest group (totally 22.92 percent) is the one using purely mixing feed. This observation seems to go against the common rational, since the mixing feed, which costs the farms less, should be more popular.

However, if the data are looked in detail, we will find that mixing feed is more popular for mature layers than instant feed. All the farms using both mixing feed and instant feed are the ones that grow chicks into mature layers and feed layers for eggs. Mostly, the instant feed used in the farm is for these chicks. After the layers reach their 6 - 10 weeks, the instant feed will be replaced with mixing one. All the mature layers in these farms are fed with mixing feed. Hence, totally 59.38 percent of the sample apply mixing feed to their mature layers.

There is no interesting feature of the independent farms using each type of feed, since the proportion for each case closely mimic the proportion of the total sample farms stated in the above two paragraphs. Then, turn to the subcontratees' cases, only 1 of them applies mixing feed in the farm. Most of the subcontract farms, 83.33 percent, apply instant feed. It can be seen from the previous part that most of the subcontract farms are under Charoen Pokphand Group, which also produces instant chicken feed. Using the company's instant feed is normally a condition in the contract Charoen Pokphand Group sets with the subcontract farms.

In looking on the provincial distribution of the farms using each type of feed, we can observe that only in Chachoengsao that there are more farms apply mixing feed to their mature layers than instant feed (Totally 40 out of 48 farms). For other provinces, including Chon-Buri, instant feed is more popular. The experience of the farms may also play a role in this feature. But the most important factor affecting the decision on type of feed should be on the scale the farms operate. From the first part of Table 6.48b, only in small-scaled category that there are more farms using instant feed than mixing feed with their mature layers. 62.5 percent of the sample medium-scaled farms and 86.96 percent of the sample large-scaled farms implement mixing feed with mature layers.

For the farms choosing mixing feed, 80.70 percent say that the main reason to choose this type of feed is on the cost efficiency reason. 15.79 percent concerns more on the feed quality than the cost, and 3.51 percent say that the availability reason is the most important one (Table 6.48b). For the 9 farms concern most on the feed quality, 8 of them are in Chachoengsao and 1 of them is in Sara-Buri. No farm in other provinces say that feed quality is the most important reason to choose mixing feed.

For the sources of raw materials for the mixing feed, the two main sources are 'shops in the nearby location' and 'the specific source for each material'. Only 15.79 percent of the farms implementing mixing feed use the services of 'companies' drive-in salesmen' (Table 6.48c). The largest proportion of the small-scaled farms using mixing feed (58.82 percent) buy raw materials from the nearby shops, while the largest proportion of large-scaled farms using mixing feed (55 percent) shop each material from its specific location.

The main reason that the small-scaled (57.89 percent of categorical responses) and medium-scaled farms (44.83 percent of categorical responses) choose their specified sources of raw materials is its convenience to buy. The reasons on the quality and price are less important for them. In contrary, price is the main concern in choosing sources of raw materials for large-scaled farms (37.5 percent of categorical responses). However, convenience and quality reasons gain almost the same importance to the price (Table 6.48d).

In case of the farms using instant feed, the highest number of farms (31 farms) buy the feed from Charoen Pokphand Group. The second largest group (19 of them) buys the feed from the local suppliers. Feed from Betagro and Laemthong group, which are other big agricultural conglomerates in Thailand, is less popular (Table 6.48e). Charoen Pokphand gets the highest number of responses because it can capture the small-scaled and medium-scaled farms, which are the biggest group of the instant-feed users.

For the responses on the question of changes in the feed brand or feed formula (Table 6.48f), most small-scaled farms do not change it. The small-scaled farms that have ever changed their feed brand or formula are at the proportion of 24.39 percent. The proportion of the farms that have ever changed their brand or formula increases (to 40.62 percent) in the medium-scaled farms. And for the large-scaled farms, most of them (56.52 percent) have ever changed the brand or formula of the feed.

The main concern for the change of the formula or the brand of the feed goes to the quality reason. That is the 'bad results of the old brand' and the 'betterment of other materials' are the two reasons gain the highest hits (30.56 percent and 27.78 percent respectively). The price reason is less important for farms to change the brand or formula (Table 6.48g). However, when the production scale of the farm is bigger, price reason becomes more important.

For the responses on the question of feed shortage (Table 6.48h), only 14.58 percent of the total sample farms say that they have exposed it. Most of the farms ever faced with the shortage problem are large-scaled (57.14 percent). Also, most of the farms ever faced with the problem locate in Chachoengsao (71.43 percent). The above two conclusions are confirmed even when comparing the proportion between categories, e.g. 20.83 percent of farms in Chachoengsao ever faced with feed shortage problem, while not more than 20 percent of farms in other provinces ever faced the problem.

Most of the farms ever exposed feed shortage problem solve it by 'buying or borrowing the feed from colleges (42.86 percent)' and 'temporarily changing feeding materials (35.71 percent)'. Only 21.43 percent of them can find other substitutable sources of feed (Table 6.48i). Smaller-scaled farms mostly choose to buy or borrow the feed from their colleges, but for large-scaled farms they may be forced to temporarily change the materials, since other choices may be limited to them.

Turning to the layer market (Table 6.48j), the main supplier in this market is also Charoen Pokphand Group. The company can access 52 percent of the total sample farms. This access rate exceed the double of the access rate owned by the runner-up company as Betagro, which has only 25 percent for the rate. Main suppliers in this market are composed of Charoen Pokphand Group, Betagro, Leamthong, and GFPT. They mainly sell one-day-old chicks to farms. Other small companies can access totally 22.92 percent of the total farms. Mostly, supply from these small companies is in the form of mature layer.

Fifty-six farms corresponding to buying chicks from the suppliers respond to the question about the chicks shortage problem (Table 6.48k). Forty-five percent of the responses say that they have ever exposed to the problem. This proportion is quite high, but feasible, since the number of suppliers in this market in Thailand is quite limited. Medium-sized farms have ever exposed to the chick exhausted problem most frequently. 52.63 percent of the farms in the category says that they have exposed it. The proportions of small-scaled farms and large-scaled farms ever exposed to this problem are quite close (40 percent and 40.91 percent respectively). However, such high figures make this problem serious in Thailand.

Most of the farms ever faced with chick shortage problem (81.48 percent) deal with it by leaving part of their farms empty. This solution is chosen independent of scales of production and provinces factors (Table 6.48l). This means that in some time the farms are forced to operate on undesired scales. The problem also pervade its effects further to the egg market.

6.3.4. Efficiency of Feed Utilization

The efficiency of layer farms are reflected by the number of eggs per bird in one year of the farms, as shown in Table 6.49a. According to the table, most of the sample farms (37.50 percent) possess the layers yielding in average 250-275 eggs per one year. Other 36.46 percent of the sample farms say that their layers yield less than 250 eggs each in one year. There are 17.71 percent of them having layers laying 275-300 eggs each in one year, while the rest 8.33 percent say that their layers yield more than 300 eggs each per one year. Medium-scaled farms are most efficient in this aspect, since as many as 34.38 percent of them say that their layers lay more than 275 eggs each per one year. This proportion is quite high comparing to those small-scaled and large-scaled farms (21.95 percent and 21.74 percent, respectively).

Peculiarly, in considering only on farms with Evap. houses, only 2 of these farms possess layers with more than 300 eggs each. Most of the farms (50 percent) are still saying that their layers lay only 250-275 eggs each in one year (Table 6.49b). In contrast, as many as 6 farms with open houses report that their layers yield more than 300 eggs each for one year. They are farms from Chachoengsao and Nahkon Ratchasima. Peculiarly, they are small-scaled and medium-scaled farms, not the large-scaled farms (Table 6.49c).

6.3.5. Disease and Drug Use

Since diseases or epidemics can cause huge loses to farms, drugs become an important factor of production for layer farms. In the case of vaccines (Table 6.50a), 96.88 percent of total sample farms says that they apply vaccines to their layers. There are various types of vaccines, but most of them are implemented with chicks. Only Newcastle vaccine is for mature layers. For the 3 farms not saying that they use vaccines, all of them buy mature layers from outer sources. All the farms grow layers from chicks apply vaccines to their layers. Also, all of the large-scaled farms apply vaccines to their layers.

Disinfectants are less popular than vaccines (Table 6.50a). Only 79.17 percent of the total sample farms says that they use disinfectants in their farms. Subcontracting farms tend to use more disinfectants, since 5 of 6 subcontractees (83.33 percent) say that they use disinfectants in their farms. The larger-scaled farms tend to use more disinfectants also. 86.96 percent of large-scaled farms use disinfectants, while only 80.49 percent of small-scaled farms and 71.88 percent of medium-scaled farms use disinfectants in their farms.

Parasiticides are also popular in layer farms (Table 6.50b). Ninety-three percent of the sample farms apply parasiticides to their layers. Only 7 out of 96 sample farms say that they do not use parasiticides. Peculiarly, the highest proportion of farms do not use parasiticides fall into large-scaled category (8.70 percent). The parasiticides can be applied in two ways, mixing with the feed and apply directly. The most popular method used by Thai layer farms is mixing with the feed. Eighty-one percent of the farms saying that they apply parasiticides use this method, while only 19.10 percent apply the drugs directly to their layers.

Antibiotics are also a type of drugs popular among layers farms (Table 6.50c). There are two methods of applications, the designed program injection and the case-by-case injection. The case-by-case injection is more popular than the program injection. 66.67 percent of the total sample farms say that they use only the case-by-case method, while 10.42 percent use only program injection and 17.71 percent apply both methods. There are 5 farms (5.21 percent) say that they do not apply antibiotics with their layers. All the farms do not apply antibiotics are independent small-scaled and medium-scaled farms. Also, these farms locate in Chachoengsao and Chon-Buri only.

In concerning to the death rate of mature layers in the sample farms (Table 6.50d), peculiarly more than half of the large-scaled farms (56.52 percent) expose the problem with high death rate (more than 10 percent), even the previous observations show that these farms intensively implement various drugs with their layers. Only 48.78 percent of the sample small-scaled farms and 31.25 percent of the sample medium-scaled farms face the same problem. This implies that drugs may not be the best solution to control the death toll of the birds in Thailand.

Table 6.50e tells us the main causes of hen death in layer farms. 'Diseases' can be considered to be the most important cause, since 38.54 percent of the total sample farms report that it is their main cause of hen death. The second important cause is 'attacks from other layers in the same cage'. Thirty-three percent of the farms say that it is the main cause to kill their layers. Eighteen percent say that 'change in weather' is the main cause and the rest talk about other causes. Large-scaled farms have bigger problem with diseases; even they intensively use drugs to control them. Small-scaled and medium-scaled farms see 'attacks among layers in the same cage' to be a big problem, while the large-scaled farms think that it is as important as the 'change in weather'.

6.3.6. Output and the Market

There are four main channels for layer farms to distribute their outputs (Table 6.51), contractors, intermediaries, consumers in the nearby village, and consumers at an agricultural market. The most frequently used channel for the sample farms is the commercial intermediaries. Seventy-seven percent of the total sample farms use this channel as their main channel. Contractors and consumers at various markets are less popular. This implies that layer farms do not want to expose themselves to risks in the selling process, shifting this process to the intermediaries.

Large-scaled farms also are not interested in committing their sales with contractors. All of the farms commit with selling contracts are small-scaled and medium-scaled farms. Also the main group who sell through contracts is the subcontractees. However, if we look in the opposite direction, these observations imply that larger-scaled farms have less channels to distribute their outputs. Committing to a contract or selling eggs to consumers directly are quite costly to them; hence, they tend to call for the intermediaries services.

6.3.7. Environment and Government Subsidy

Layer farms have comparatively small problem with manure management. First, look at Table 6.52a, 58.33 percent of the total sample farms can sell 100 percent of their layers' manure with positive price. Especially for the large-scaled farms, manure management become very small problem. 91.30 percent of the large-scaled farms can sell out all their layers' manure. For the 2 farms left, one can sell it up to 95 percent of its manure, and one does not sell it at all. Manure management becomes a bigger problem for small-scaled farms, since 56.10 percent of them cannot sell it at all. The amount of the manure in these farms creates this problem. Too small amount of manure keep the eyes of potential customers to overlook the farms' manure. However, 43.90 percent of the small-scaled farms say that they can sell the manure from 50 percent - 100 percent of the amount they possess. The manure sold will be used either in the plant farms or gardens or the fish ponds of the buyers or the customers in the next stage (Table 6.52b).

For the manure that cannot be sold, farms will bring it to use in other ways. Table 6.52c says that mostly the manure left from sale will be brought into the farms' fish ponds (57.45 percent). The second most popular function is to use it in the farms' areas (34.04 percent). The rest (8.51 percent) say that they will bring the manure to their relatives. These observations imply that layers' manure can be considered as economic 'good', in contrary to the 'bad', for the farms. Hence, this can stress the previous claim that manure management is not a problem for layer farms.

Now we turn to consider the ways the farms manage with the ill hen carcasses, which should be a more serious problem for layer farms (Table 6.52d). From 73 responses, 45.21 percent say that they will burn or demolish these carcasses with their equipment. Other 16.44 percent say that they will bury or discard them. However, as high as 38.36 percent say that they will sell them in cheap prices. This is a quite awful fact, since these carcasses have a lot of potential to become human food in the next stage. Also, the figure of 38.36 percent may be the under-responded, since this question makes many of the farms hesitate to answer and some farms may commit lies.

Government services are quite limited for layer farms (Table 6.52e). Only 4 of the sample farms (4.17 percent) say that they receive the vaccination services from the government. Only 5 of them (5.21 percent) say that they receive disease identification services from the government. The services spread throughout all farm scales. Very low responses come from the lack of information about the governmental services. Another main problem is the idea that government services are inferior to ones provided by feed companies or other private services.

6.3.8. Animal Welfare

In dealing with the aspect of animal welfare in layer farms, we calculate the housing area (in unit of square meter), as shown in Table 6.53. The more appropriate measure for layers should be the cage area per one bird, but calculation of such figure composes of various problems, such as varying cage sizes in one farm, misspecification of unit of measurement, misunderstanding the definition of cage, etc. Hence, the second best concept of housing area is taken to replace the cage. There are only 2 out of 93 responding sample farms say that their layers have more than 1 square meter each. More than half of them (61.29 percent) report that they let less than 0.20 square meter for one layer. Larger-scaled farms tend to allow less housing area for each layer, since profit may become more important for their businesses.

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