Hu Jinyan, 58, used her smartphone to watch real-time videos of chickens’ living conditions and their surroundings through a visualization system installed in her chicken breeding base.
As the general manager of the base in Tianjin, Hu has made good use of high-tech devices to expand her chicken-raising business.
With the product tracking system, her customers can log into WeChat, the largest social networking platform in China, to get full information about the chickens and eggs, according to Hu. In addition, she can also use these “eyes” to better raise the chickens, she added.
Now, more than 50,000 chickens with white bellies, black tails and red cockscombs live on the 200 hectares of the base, nesting in about 30 chicken sheds built on mountaintops in the area.
“Our chickens run freely on the mountain,” Hu said. “They eat worms, potherbs and wild fruits during the day, and we feed them mixed corn and bran without any additives at night.”
Hu, who retired as a teacher from a local middle school, believes that food safety is crucial for children’s health. Since chickens and eggs are closely linked with people’s daily lives, Hu decided to raise chickens on the mountain to provide healthy food for the local children.
She looked up various resources online and visited many chicken breeding bases in different regions. In 2011, Hu introduced a special breed of 5,000 baby chicks from Zhejiang province.
“These lively chickens are better at running and flying than others and have a greater resistance to diseases. More importantly, the mountain land is a wonderful place to raise them,” she said.
In the beginning, the base’s lack of infrastructure created many problems for Hu.
“When it rained, the wheels of egg-carrying carts got stuck into the mud. It was hard to transport the eggs,” Hu said.
With the support of the local government, roads were built along the mountainside, and the problems involving water and electricity supply were fixed.
Hu also has close contacts with agricultural experts to get more professional advice. Zang Sumin, a professor at Hebei Agriculture University, is among them.
“Hu did not see things as professional at first; she always chose big chickens with beautiful feathers. She didn’t know that some small chickens tend to have better egg laying ability,” said Zang, who provided many of suggestions about breeding, epidemic prevention, environmental monitoring and management for Hu’s base.
In addition, Hu put electronic bracelets on the feet of each chicken to monitor their laying rate and death rate. With the scientific approach to breeding, the laying rate of her chickens rose from 30 percent to 60 percent.