Chicken breeding under shelling

One-day-old chicks before distribution. ©FAO/Viktoriia Mykhalchuk


“Come in, come in. I’ll show you our chickens,” invites Tetiana with shining eyes. “I made a saddle for them here, a drinking place. And they usually sleep in this coop.” She lives one kilometer from the “contact line” in the east of Ukraine. She bred chickens before the conflict, growing broilers for sale, and now she is engaged in livestock activities again, but under daily shelling. There is also a small garden near the house where a variety of vegetables and fruits are grown.

Tetiana’s family is one of 3 130 vulnerable families in the 5-km zone along the contact line who received FAO agricultural support. As part of United Nations emergency support, FAO has delivered 330 tons of livestock feed and 27 900 of one-day-old dual-purpose chickens, which can be raised either for meat or eggs.

The five-year conflict has had a severe impact on the economic situation in eastern Ukraine. More than a million people in the region are malnourished and have limited access to quality food. Due to loss of income and lack of livelihood opportunities, the vulnerable population is increasingly forced to buy food on credit. The primary source of food for rural families is what they can produce themselves or what they receive from international organizations, as their access to agricultural land is limited due to mine contamination.

Tetiana’s son died a week before the conflict started. Thus two pensioners were left alone with their daughter-in-law and grandchildren, and Tetiana’s elderly mother moved to their house as well. They couldn’t afford to leave the area.

Tetiana received 30 chickens and breeds them with a high sense of responsibly: she arranged a place in the barn, provided warmth, and added vitamins to the feed. A place in the yard was equipped with hardware mesh that will keep out predators, such as large birds and cats.

Tetiana cares for her chickens (left). The chickens search for feed and water (right). ©FAO/ Viktoriia Mykhalchuk.

“It’s important to breed chicks when it’s warm and their paws are dry,” Tetiana said. “Then they will grow healthy. In the beginning, we gave them warm water with honey and water with dripping iodine for disinfection. We feed them crushed wheat, corn, and barley with herbs, cucumbers, beets, and pumpkins. It is quite important that the feed is clean, and that any infection does not spread.”

In a few months, the chickens are already grown and the hens can be separated from the roosters. Tetiana plans to leave only one rooster for every 7–10 hens, the rest of roosters will go to meat. She also hopes that hens will start laying in February.

“If it is warm, they will be laying. Hopefully, there will be less shooting, because when shelling starts, the hens are scared and stop producing eggs,” she added.

The family will collect eggs for themselves and sell the extras. They even have customers to buy the meat.

Galyna feeding her chickens. ©FAO/Viktoriia Mykhalchuk

Nadiia’s family comes from a nearby village and also received chickens under the FAO project. Her daughter Galyna helps with chicken breeding and is already waiting to bring home a chicken sitter to raise her own chicks.

“We can even start our own business, the laying hen today costs UAH 120 [approx. USD 5]. Also, we can breed and sell chickens,” Galyna said. “We will cook soup and aspic jelly from the rooster’s meat. And the hens will lay eggs. This is a good breed, bearing 350 eggs per year, so we can collect eggs for ourselves and sell the rest. [Earning] UAH 25 or 30 [approx. USD 1] per ten eggs will not be excessive during winter.”

The distributed animals can cover the families’ access to protein at least for six months. Such support also ensures economic sustainability in hard-to-reach areas and is an important step in building a world without hunger.

Learn more

1. No poverty, 16. Peace justice and strong institutions