Farmer fails to pin chick deaths on ‘poor feed’


10-April-2013

Chief justice Francis Egonda-Ntende said there was no scientific evidence to prove the feed was of substandard quality as no laboratory tests were carried out neither was a post mortem done on the dead birds.

In his case against the Seychelles Farmers Marketing Cooperative, the farmer through his lawyer Basil Hoareau had sued for R966,189.35 together with interest and costs saying on July 7, 2011 he bought 15,000 young chicks from the cooperative and later bought feed from the defendant “which turned out to be of such poor quality and or unfit for feeding chicks leading to the death of 10,000 chicks, and causing the plaintiff financial loss of R481,000.00.

The farmer also claimed an additional R485,189.35 for chicken he said he supplied to the defendant in August and October 2011 for which the defendant – represented by lawyer Danny Lucas – had not paid.

“The defendant admits the fact of purchase of both the chicks and feeds except they were on credit terms and denies the rest of the averments with regard to poor quality or being unfit for feeding chicks,” said Mr Egonda-Ntende in a judgment posted on the Supreme Court’s new website.

The court had heard that at some point the chicks started dying when the farmer was abroad at the time and had been notified by his manager.

“When he came back he found the chicks dying every day. They were pecking the backside of each other and pulling out the stomachs. That is why they were dying. 10,000 chicks died. The cause of death was the feed which lacked soya. It was just maize and some fish meal,” quoted the chief judge.

“The chicken would have sold at R28.30 per kilogramme and would weigh on average 1.7 kilos. The plaintiff further testified that he should have been able to sell about 14,000 chickens as there are bound to be some losses but the loss could not have been 10,000 chicks.

The farmer admitted he was new to the business of rearing chicks, having taken over the business from someone else.
The manager told the court the chicks started eating each other and not eating the feed “and it was obvious there was a problem with the feed”.

The manager also admitted he had no previous experience with poultry farming prior to being hired for the job in 2011 and neither the dying or dead chicks nor the feed were ever examined or analysed by experts.

A livestock officer trained in Japan, Israel and Egypt in poultry production after doing two years at the Seychelles Polytechnic said she visited the plaintiff’s farm and found that it was well managed.

“There was a problem as the chicks had their intestines out. The chicks were pecking each other. She examined the drink and the food. After feeling the food she concluded that it was lacking some essential nutrients. It contained rice and a little maize. There was no fishmeal or soya. She concluded that the feed was deficient and the cause of the problem.

But in cross examination, the officer admitted that she had no expertise in analysis of food products. She was not authorised to carry out laboratory tests which could only be done by the Seychelles Bureau of Standards.

“Essentially all that you are telling us is that when you felt the feed it appeared to you as if there was only rice and maize?” she was asked, to which she said, “Yes”, and admitted she had no expertise whatsoever in the analysis of food products in order to determine the various components of that product and admitted a laboratory test regarding food was a necessity but it could not be carried out by extension officers.

Mr Egonda-Ntende noted there was even no record of how many chicks there were originally and the plaintiff just said his 10,000 chicks had died.
He dismissed the claim but awarded him the money he was claiming for chicken supplied to the cooperative.

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