Sumy region is located in the eastern part of Ukraine. It borders Russia to the north and was immediately occupied by the Russian army on February 24, with heavy fighting for individual towns. The territory was liberated from the occupiers on April 4.
During the occupation, the Russian army killed more than 100 people and several dozen others disappeared. In addition to the human losses, the company also suffered losses. Businesses were bombed, looted, office and production equipment was taken away.
One of the enterprises that fell under the Russian occupation was one of the poultry farms of the Ptahoprodukt enterprise group. The company includes 2 poultry farms (6 and 10 hectares) and a compound feed factory. The poultry farm in Vilshana village was attacked and eventually occupied. Owner Oleksandr Strilets comments on this unprecedented situation: “You are trying to run the business as best you can, but no management decision will work against a tank. »
Strilets comments: “Our biggest challenge was the Russian army’s direct attack on the farm. More than 100 vehicles with military equipment entered the territory of the plant – it was a shock to everyone. Russian forces invaded after the end of the working day. The gate was demolished with a tank and their equipment was placed everywhere. The occupants camped there for the night. The factory guard was locked in a room and his phone confiscated.
At that time, the farm housed 30,000 day-old chicks as well as laying hens. Russian soldiers occupying the poultry farm vandalized cage equipment, tampered with feeding and ventilation systems, and slept on sacks of compound feed. In addition, the chickens were thrown out of the cages, and the temperature in the poultry houses fell below the critical threshold, significantly increasing mortality.
According to the owner of Ptakhoprodukt, working under the occupation involves regularly making difficult decisions within tight deadlines. In such conditions, the most important thing is that the management of the company is highly motivated and determined to work. Then, employees don’t give up and practical solutions are found to situations that no one can foresee.
On March 5, in full occupation, 50,000 new chicks should have been delivered. “As the amount of feed is limited, before accepting 50,000 new chicks, we decided to modify the feeding of adult livestock, limiting both the volumes and the level of nutrition. Yet any change causes a chain reaction – changes to food recipes, adjustments to logistics, redistribution of resources, etc. When we realized the on-farm feed problem was critical, we accepted the most tactical decision at the time to let the existing herd “molt”. They had been eating badly for a few days anyway, then as soon as we got the food we started to deal with the moult. According to farm workers, this is a violation of proper animal husbandry. Yet, thanks to this, we managed to save the herd.
After 6 weeks of occupation, the Russians were driven out of the Sumy region by Ukrainian forces, but this did not mean the end of the struggles. One of the most immediate problems is tripwires left behind by Russian troops. Because of them, none of the employees could enter the territory. Everyone was afraid of the possibility of blowing them up.
The poultry farm manager, Mykhailo Bespalyi, was the one who took control of the situation. He inspected the tripwire-covered area, mapped out a safe route, and the employees followed him.
Strilets: “The first thing they did was grab chickens and put them back in cages. Then they defrosted the radiators to warm up the premises and started other production processes. They managed to save quite a few hens and chicks. Still, about 10-15% of the 30,000 chickens died. »
Although production efficiency decreases somewhat, the feed mill and poultry farms continue to operate. “We managed to restore sales markets in Sumy, Kharkiv and Kyiv region. Also, the other day, a new batch of 50,000 chickens was delivered, marking a new start,” concludes Strilets.