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New technologies and models facilitate farmers towards prosperity in Taishun
Date:2022-04-13 16:01:43 Source:Wenzhou·China Fonts:[ Large Medium Small ]

The “two chickens” in Taishun, a mountainous county of Wenzhou, are now contributing to rural income growth and common prosperity with their “golden eggs”, attracting overwhelming demand in the market. One of them is known as “worm fed chicken” which feeds on black soldier flies and grains, the other as “running chicken” which is not sold until the smart band tied to its feet, also a pedometer, reads 1 million. Thanks to new technologies and new models, farmers in Taishun are enjoying an ever-broader way towards prosperity. A prime example is their unique ways of breeding the “two chickens”.

The “worm fed chicken” feeds on black soldier flies for 300 whole days

In Dongyangdi Village, Sankui Township of Taishun County, there is a 150-acre “worm fed chicken” eco-friendly breeding demonstration base, with over 20,000 “worm fed chickens” and total investment amounting to over 5 million yuan.

“These chickens eat black soldier flies every day,” said Wang Xiaoxin, a technician of the base. Repeated practices have seen 30% decrease of chicken feed consumption and significant improvement on chickens’ appetite, activity, disease-resistance and nutritional value of the meat, when black soldier fly accounts for 20% to 30% of the feed. The black soldier fly, or Hermetia illucens, is a member of the Stratiomyidae family. During the first week of its lifespan, the larvae mainly feed on kitchen waste and animal manure, 60% of which will be converted into high-quality insect protein, 40% into organic fertilizer. After 7 or 8 days since its birth, the larvae will grow into imagoes, the feed for “worm fed chickens”, with their manure also the biofertilizer after fermentation. “A ton of kitchen waste can be eaten by 300 kilograms of black soldier flies, the good recyclers of perishable food waste,” Wang added.

“The ‘worm fed chickens’ eat black soldier flies for 300 whole days before hitting the market, making their meat particularly delicious. Despite the retail price of 45 yuan per catty, more than doubling the prices of the traditionally fed chickens, ‘worm fed chickens’ are preferred by many and sold to Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and other cities. So far, the breeding base has been the long-term supplier of over 150 supermarkets, grocers, chain restaurants in several cities of China, thus achieving a seamless docking of production and selling,” said Xu Weichou, chairman of Wenzhou Gugeng Agricultural Development Co., Ltd. and the base operator. Xu said that their “worm fed chicken” industrial chain makes full use of the breeding ground among mountains and forests of Taishun by adopting the production chain of “kitchen waste treatment and poultry manure pretreatment – insect feed – black soldier fly raising – ‘worm fed chicken’ breeding – crop production”. Such a farming model engages farmers in the eco-friendly “worm fed chicken” industrial chain and increases their income, leading to economic and environmental win-win.

Xu Yuchou, a local farmer, is now breeding over 6000 “worm fed chickens” after joining the eco-friendly breeding project. “The chickens are sold at high prices and in demand. We now have steady income and bright future,” said Xu with a confident tone. Xu is one of the over 100 farmers who are now raising “worm fed chickens” with a “base + smallholder farmer” model. The orders, coordinated by the main base, will be assigned to the secondary bases and smallholder farmers. When the chickens grow into adulthood, they will be butchered and bought back by the main base after being granted the certification of the tests on antibiotics, hormones and other substances. Such “contract breeding” model guarantees steady farming income and calms farmers’ worries. Now the sales order totals over 20 million yuan, resulting in an increment in annual per capita income of 4,300 yuan and annual per secondary base income of 40,000 yuan.

“Running chicken” has 1 million steps to go before entering the market

In the chicken houses in Waiyang Village, Pengxi Township of Taishun County, a smart white band is tied to each chicken, enabling the access to all the information of the chicken since its birth by simply scanning its QR code. These chickens must run 1 million steps before reaching the market, hence the name – “running chicken”.

The idea came from Tang Pingdong, chairman of Zhejiang Yinuo Agricultural Technology Co., Ltd. Before that, Tang, after some field trips, discovered that customers were unable to tell if the chickens were free-range ones and the farmers also had troubles proving they were. Were there any solutions? It was Tang’s friend who counts walked steps every day that inspired him to apply the step-counting technology to chicken farms. “Caged chickens” are thus turning into “running chickens” which, after running 1 million steps, are expected to grow more muscles and produce more delicious meat.

No sooner said than done! After several attempts, Tang and his team finally developed a smart chicken leg band which records the data of chicken’s living conditions and growth, enabling the breeders to better manage the breeding process. To put it concretely, the footstep recorded by the band will be transmitted to the IoT big data platform where the breeders can monitor chicken life cycle and establish chickens’ health records. The farms are thus able to carry out smart management and improve the quality of the chickens they raise. “With blockchain and IoT technology, digital breeding empowers chicken farming to be such a hi-tech industry,” said Tang Pingdong.

“You can walk fast if walking alone, but you can walk farther when walking together.” To help other farmers, Tang Pingdong explored and initiated a new breeding cooperation model of “the company signing breeding contracts with farmers, supplying farmers with free chicks and smart bands and buying adult chickens back for sale” based on the local conditions. “We encourage farmers to invest their land and labor force into the company and work as the breeders,” said Tang. His company has been contracting chicken houses to several farmers, providing the farmers who own chicken coops with chicks and smart bands, free of charge, and organizing training courses on the use of husbandry technologies. The chickens with required quality can all be sold out in the end.

The popularity of “running chickens” has brought in good economic benefits. On the e-commerce platform, a chicken of this kind is sold at 198 yuan, its eggs 50 to 70 yuan per kilogram, and is delivered to the cities as far away as Inner Mongolia in North China and Hainan, a south China’s island province. “Now I can earn money without engaging in sales, which is something I have never ever thought of,” said Tang Zongliang, a local farmer. He now enjoys steady income after being part of the “running chicken” project which has increased the income of more than 1,500 farmers over the past 3 years. In 2021, the chicken farms produced about 180,000 high-quality “running chickens” with the income of the smallholder farmers ranging from 20,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan.

Zhejiang Dongchi Holdings Co., Ltd. also sees “running chicken” farming a promising industry. Listed as Top 100 catering enterprises in 2020, the company, with 600 chain restaurants, sold 54 million boxed meals annually. With the help of Taiwan Affairs Office of Wenzhou Municipal People’s Government, Dongchi and Yinuo have signed a strategic cooperation agreement. Tang Pingdong from Yinuo expected that in the first phase of the cooperation the demand on chicken legs from Dongchi alone would drive Yinuo to recruit another 800 “running chicken” farmers, adding to the 307 farmers who had already signed contracts with the company in 2021. Thus the farmers here are working their ways towards common prosperity.

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