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The Ukraine Report: Russia robs one of the world’s top 20 poultry farms

Ukraine’s harvest is making progress, but war is still ongoing within the country. We are getting an inside look at Europe’s largest poultry farm for egg production, located in Ukraine and taken over by Russia during the war.

Latifundist Media has partnered with us to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage:

Chornobaivka is a small village in the south of Ukraine, in the Kherson region.
As President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated, Chornobaivka has become a symbol of the ineptness of the Russian army. Why? The fact is that the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed Russian military convoys located in this settlement more than 20 times.

Europe’s largest poultry farm for the production of eggs is located in this village. In peacetime, it produced one and a half billion eggs annually or 6 million eggs per day. In terms of the number of laying hens, the poultry farm is among the world’s top 20.

The area was in occupation until early November, and after the de-occupation, the poultry farm is nothing but empty poultry houses and ruins.

We lost 4.4 million hens. Most of the birds died of starvation. We tried to deliver mixed feed, but the Russian military would not allow it and there was nothing to feed the hens. To buy some time and solve the nutrition situation, we resorted to a technological method — induced molting. But there was nowhere to get fed and they died.

Feed shortages were not the sole problem. The substation was shelled. And we had no power. There was two days’ fuel in the generators. I got fuel from local farmers, but it wasn’t enough. After a while, the ventilation went out and so did the hens.

The manager of the poultry farm recalls how the Russian army invaded the place.

Once in the office, the robbery begins. My jacket and trousers were there, he empties the pockets. I ask him what he is doing. And he answers that it all belongs to him.

“Even my workwear was taken. I take the pills I can’t do without, and they took them away too. Good thing I had a backup.”

Chornobaivka poultry farm covered more than 40 percent of the holding’s output. It was modern, automated, and export-oriented as it is close to ports. Volodymyr Rudenko, Chief Operating Officer of Avangard agro holding, speaks of the financial losses.

“Preliminary estimates of the loss of the equipment alone reach $150 million. The infrastructure of water drainage, electricity, and gas supply was destroyed, and all sources of alternative power were stolen.”

Everything in poultry houses was stolen, and even lighting cables were ripped out.

In fact, the farm is incapacitated. So even having enough funding, it will not be possible to restore it quickly.

4.4 million birds are worth $20 million. The lost income from unlaid eggs amounted to about $168 million. Total losses made US$ 330 million.

The egg sorting workshop is located here. It looks like nothing was destroyed, but in fact computers and equipment were stolen, and what was left was broken and out of order.

The workshop employed 230 people who worked in 3 shifts. This is the heart of the enterprise. Unfortunately, the occupation destroyed it all. The memory of it is all we have. I hope we rebuild everything.

The following day after we visited the poultry farm, Kherson was heavily shelled and the director Andriy Chirkov was wounded. Fortunately, his injury is not very serious. But such is the routine of war.

That report was powered by Latifundist Media, with USAID support provided through Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities (AGRO) Activity implemented in Ukraine by Chemonics International. For more information, visit their website or follow them on social media.

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