Poultry farming is one of the most profitable businesses in Kenya due to the demand for chicken by big restaurants and hotels. This makes poultry farming an important business in the agriculture industry because it creates employment to those Kenyans who are in search of employment opportunity, it builds a business platform for entrepreneurs, it makes income to the person involved in this type of farming, and finally, this is a type of business which drys up in case it is well managed. Poultry farming profits may only be realized by the individual who engages in poultry.
For one to start poultry farming, he/she requires to know the types of chicken to be kept in Kenya. Fundamentally, there are three types of chicken in Kenya;
- The Cockerel is the other type of chicken reared in Kenya. They grow slower and are ready for the market after about six months. They are more reliable than other types of chicken because they may withstand the harsh environments, and absorbs all kinds of shocks.
- The Layers, this is reared for egg production but are more stressing to the rear as compared to other types of chicken.
- The broiler chicken is reared for meat production. These chickens grow faster and are usually ready for the market after approximately three months.
This kind of farming needs a lot of dedication from the farmer. You only need a little amount of money and small-scale farming is further preferable before venturing to large-scale farming. You require to sit down and make the calculation of the whole business. Once you have the capital to big with, find a piece of land for setting up the poultry house.
The other step is to build a chicken cage. You should make sure it is spacious and well ventilated to avoid suffocation of chicken. Buy an external source of heat for the chicks. Once you have the cage, go and buy a one-day-old chick from some recognized hatchery. When you have purchased the chicks, you require to keep checking them at least five times a day for the first couple of days.
The other routine management you need to remember includes:
- Proper protection of chicks from pets, predators, or children from home.
- Ensure that you seek advice from experts on the types of feeds to be given as they are growing because they need to change according to the ages.
- The feds should always be kept clean to avoid infections.
- Keep the chicks warm at all times. And light must be on throughout the day (24 hours).
- The chicken cage should be kept clean every day.
Things for every poultry farmer should consider
Know your customers and reach them directly
Take time to know the customers and build a long-lasting relationship. This is severing that relationship with power brokers or cartels, whose interests are buying birds cheaply and selling to restaurants, fast-food managers at high prices.
Record keeping is a good tool to assess your performance and shed light on areas that need improvement. Record the feed consumption, weights, losses, temperatures, visitors, profit margins, water intakes, and gains in weights. Compare the performance of each crop against previous.
Invest in animal welfare
Maintain your chickens healthy and happy always, avoid the use of unnecessary prescription medication, give them plenty of water and space for growing, playing, and sleeping. Keep litter dry and permits birds to exercise and exhibit their natural feelings in a conducive environment.
Don’t buy cheap feed
The feed is the component of the cost of any chicken production, be it meat or egg production. It accounts for seventy percent of all the other components. The main component of feed is maize and soya and those two are not cheap. Buy feed that consistently gives you the target kilo of meat per feed fed and the target amount of eggs per kilogram of feed at a lower cost and not at a cheaper cost. The two are different.
Measure the feed you give your chicken daily
A small number of farmers give feed adlib to their birds. This must not be consistent if you want to make a profit. You have to measure to a gram per bird of all the feed allocations daily as per the established standards of your breed. In some farms I have gone to, ten percent of the feed is wasted on the floor or the litter and go unaccounted for. Cultivate the habit of calculating how much feed is being converted to kilograms of meat or eggs. As a rule of thumb, 1 kg of layer feed should give you at least 5-6 eggs during production and 1.6-7 kg of broiler Crumble feed must give you 1 kg of live weight, this is the feed conversion ratio.
Weigh a sample of the chicken regularly
Make a habit of weighing five percent of your birds from date of placement to week of slaughter or point of lay if they are pullets. This practice though laborious, informs you when things are going wrong early in advance for you to make corrective actions.
Spend often time in the flock unit
Set some time to walk in your flock unit. The best time to visit the flock is very early in the morning during feeding time and late in the evening just before the lights go out. We refer to this as ‘walking the birds’. It’s during this period when you physically appraise your flocks on feeding habits, watering, flock density, and general health. It as well reduces incidences of flip over or heart attack.
Invest in a footbath at every entrance to a poultry unit.
Footbaths are the best and the first line of defense for the birds in case of a disease outbreak. Make sure you always keep it clean and regularly replaced with potent disinfectant.
Restrict visitors into the poultry site
Biosecurity is all about processes that you must put in place to prevent the introduction of disease-causing organisms or agents from infecting your precious flocks. Refrain from unnecessary visitors into the precincts of your birds, as history has it which people are the main conveyors of poultry disease agents.
Vaccinate the birds as per health plan
Always ensure your car against unknown accidents, likewise, you vaccinate your birds against airborne diseases whose spread cant be prevented through physical barriers. Do not skip vaccinations as this exercise is the single most important activity that boosts the immune system of birds against some of the worst notifiable diseases like Newcastle and fowl typhoid.
Importance of Chicken Farming in Kenya
- It creates a business opportunity for Entrepreneurs
- Chicken farming provides employment for job-seeking citizens
- This is the kind of business that can never dry up
- A Chicken farming business brings in a lot of income; Poultry farming is very profitable
A good poultry farming business in Kenya earns above Kshs. 5 million per annum depending on how big the farm. All these benefits are open to you when you start your own poultry farm today. There are basically three types of chicken to consider chicken farming in Kenya as discussed above.
Poultry farming in Kenya requires having the right knowledge to be able to do the right things to get the right result. It requires hard work and prompt attention to detail. Poultry Farming is a little capital intensive but if you are starting on a micro-scale (Home back yard) where you have a small space in your back yard, it is not.
Starting small is the best way to enter and learn the business. Before you venture into chicken farming in Kenya, you require to sit back and do proper planning; make sure you have an idea of all the costs involved. Currently, there seem to be no high ventures in poultry farming in Kenya like the ones in Europe, the USA, and other counties. Any investor who has the needed capital to venture into it will have reasons to smile within a short period of time.
Requirements to Start Poultry Farming in Kenya
If you are ready to get started in poultry farming, these are the basic requirements you need to set up your farm.
This is the second most important part of your chicken farming set up and it is not as expensive as buying or acquiring land. There are many ways you build the birds’ house but make sure that the sizes of the building are spacious enough for the chicken to run around. The house should be constructed in a way that you be able to control the ventilation and air movement.
When planning out the chicken house, always remember that space is very important. Don’t compromise on this to avoid frequent loss of the birds through suffocation and contamination.
Day Old Chicks
This is where the chicken farming business starts. Buy chicks from a chicken hatchery that mainly deals with the supplying of different species of day-old chickens. It’s better to buy from the hatchery, Chicken hatcheries normally produce good quality of day-old chicks through the use of incubators. Raising hens from baby chicks need you to check on them often during the first few weeks.
In chicken farming, a chick does not have the ability to maintain its own body temperature without an external source of heat. Below are the outlines of taking care of chicks after you have gotten your chick, once those baby balls of fluff arrive home, you will want to have everything ready for them to settle into their brooder and stay warm and happy.
This is the number one thing you require to get right in poultry farming island. A plot of land of 120 x 60 square meters is good for setting up a medium scale poultry farm, at least for a start. Once you have land that is big enough for your farm set up, almost half of your requirements have been taken care of. The land is the hardest and the most expensive part of the poultry business.
Look for land in a rural area or on farms. There you get lands cheaper, stays out of trouble, and do the production there, while your products are transported to the urban area for sale. It is good if you can get your own poultry farmland and build a permanent farm rather than to rent. When you rent, the owner may decide to send you packing, and relocating always comes with a huge cost.
Caring for the Growing Chickens
After the baby chick stage passes, you’ll have the young pullets and cockerels and, once they turn one year old, hens and roosters. Some primary daily chores in this stage of poultry farming involve keeping their food and water fresh and collecting eggs is the basis of ongoing chicken care, but you’ll require to make sure they’re protected from predators and stay healthy as well.
NOTE: Most layers in chicken farming start laying eggs the moment they are 18 weeks old but some wait till they are about 22 weeks old. Whatever the way, layers in poultry farming is considered the most lucrative of all poultry farming ventures because two things are achieved from layers, they lay eggs which fetch good money in the market, and are equally sold for the meat.