YERU EBUEN -
For some reason, when one hears ‘poultry farm,” it automatically depicts a smelly, litter-ridden cave that barely sees sunlight. But recent poultry farm operations have evolved and so are the ways the chickens are cared for.
Barka is still a developing town. The myriads of constructions popping in many of its corners are testament to its slow yet steady move towards progress. There’s still acres of lands that are unused, waiting for the perfect opportunity and project to help catapult this town to its full economic potential.
Despite its current appearance, Barka, just as most towns in Oman, doesn’t fail to surprise. And one of its best kept secrets is the poultry farm — which frankly, might be unheard of for some people while others may have just seen the Barka company name stuck on labels of egg containers from grocery shops.
Barka Poultry Farm Co (SAOC) is located somewhere around Nakhal Road — a good 30 minutes’ drive from Muscat (or could be shorter). The façade of the company can easily be mistaken for a resort. From the dusty surrounding, this one space sticks out like a sore thumb.
From the main entrance to the office where they take in guests, the well-manicured lawn that stays green even during the summer are dotted with hundreds of healthy looking date palms.
The main production area of the farm is off limits. Understandably so, they have to protect the operations as well as their guests. It’s crazy to imagine what’s going on inside the big hallways of the poultry production area. From afar, it’s hard to even hear the clucking noise of chickens.
It was an unplanned visit on a Monday.
“We’re hoping to purchase double-yolk eggs,” my companion said to the guy manning the farm’s main office. He and his wife were planning to make the egg-based leche flan or caramel custard for their new year’s celebration.
“We don’t have much today,” the office guy said. “We have plenty of the regular eggs but double yolk normally slows down in the winter,” he added.
I grew up with chickens but coming from a tropical country, egg production is pretty much the same for the whole year.
My companion, who has been a frequent visitor of the place, explained that cold weather affects egg production.
“We want our eggs fresh. You can’t be fresher than getting it from the farm directly,” he said.
My apparent lack of knowledge about egg production started a long conversation about science and reproduction. If they were discussed by my teachers back in the days, they would be embarrassed to have me as a student for forgetting.
In summary, chickens lay eggs to reproduce. As winter is not an ideal time for chicks to be born, they shut down their endocrine system resulting to non-production of eggs.
Which led to lesser number of double yolk eggs.
“The operation in this farm doesn’t stop just because its winter. We’ve come a long way with our technology so eggs should be available in the market the whole year whether it’s winter or not. What you’re looking for just happens to be in lesser production during this time of the year,” the office guy explained.
When I go shopping for food, I just pick eggs from the shelf not minding whether I’m selecting organic, double yolk or salted. To check freshness, I dip the eggs in water and if they sink at the bottom, it means they’re really fresh. If the egg tilts or float, it means it’s bad.
We managed to haul a tray of double yolk eggs and three trays of regular ones. I was told it’s a bit cheaper too if purchased right off the farm.
It seemed too much of an effort to get your eggs in Barka. But in case you find yourself lost along Nakhal Road, might as well head out to the poultry farm and see even just the outside of the farm for yourself.