Livestock was always part of the plan – in March, the chickens, sheep and cows finally arrived on site.
Update April 1st 2020:
As long as the situation in The Gambia still allows it (Corona pandemic), we will continue to produce and work in the gardens – following strict rules for hygiene and the safety of the students.
Here a short update on the chickens, sheep and cows, that arrived in the camp beginning of march.
The stall for the chickens was already finished and equipped with all the necessary heating lamps, feeding throughs, litter and forage stock, when the breeder told us he would not be able to deliver the chicks on time. The new delivery date was set for March.
Meanwhile we we were able to buy the much needed sheep, since the price was good at that time. The first dozen were kept in a temporary enclosure until the stalls for them could be finished. We also bought more cattle. Thanks to the good negotiation skills of Momodou (CEO of the Rural Development Organization – RDO) we got hold of 11 cows, most of them already pregnant, one bull and one calf.
Hamid, Alassan and Sulayman immediately took responsibility for the herd. They supply them with food and water. To ensure that they’re able to graze enough, one of them leads them to a new floodplain every morning. Another one takes care of the sheep.
With the sheep starting to steal from our vegetables, we realized that we need additional space for all the animals to roam, further shelters and storage units. So we had to rent an additional space next to the gardens. Now we need to add fencing and add a water pipeline.
On March 3rd we finally received the almost 3.000 chicks we ordered. To ensure their proper housing, the Lufthansa trainees built portable dividing walls which can be adjusted to the needs of the chickens. We also started constructed a second building, because the chickens are growing fast and we will soon need further space for them to lay eggs.
An investment for the long term
It’s a big investment. We will have to shelter and feed the animals for quite a while, before the chickens will lay their first eggs. And also the cattle and sheep ‘only’ provide us with manure for now, that we can use as fertilizer for our gardens.
But that alone is a huge benefit. The combination of livestock and crop production is part of the holistic permaculture concept that we follow. By using manure as fertilizer, we create more fertile soils and increase our sustainability.
And then we hope to generate a first income from the sale of the eggs this summer. Therefore we already got in contact with potential buyers. And as soon as the cattle have calves, we will be able to generate an additional income by selling their milk. The sale of new born bulls could contribute to even higher revenues in future.
The goal is to generate enough income each month, so that the RDO can finance it’s activities and continue the project independently. This approach of self sustaining, also functions as a role model for the students and hopefully inspires them to work hard and achieve their own financial independence as soon as possible.