Cecilia Wangui,60, keeps some 5,000 chickens in Nyeri County under the battery cage system. Her layers and Kienyeji birds offer her some 2,800 eggs in a day and she also makes her own poultry feeds.

Irene Mugo spoke to her on what makes her business tick

Q1. Why the cage system?

Cecilia: The system makes chicken rearing easier, from feeding to collecting eggs, which remain clean.

Though some have said it ignores the rights of the birds, we try as much as possible to make them comfortable.

I keep three birds in each cube of the 1,000 cages. The birds easily access feeds and water, which trickles down to a dish beneath the water pipe connected to a water tank outside the coop.

Vaccination or treatment is also faster because one mixes the drug with water and puts in the water tank and it flows through the system to the birds.

The setting alleviates stress for the birds, unlike when many are confined together.

Q2. For how long have you been keeping these birds?

Cecilia: My interest in poultry started one day in 2018 when I attended a farmers’ field day at Wambugu Farm in Nyeri.

I loved what I saw and the knowledge I received there. I joined forces with my brother and other family members, then raised enough capital to start the venture.

I was left to run it. I began with layers but have since diversified to Kienyeji chickens, of which we keep 1,000 under the deep litter system.

I also have 1,000 chicks and I keep the birds alongside six goats, seven cows, five rabbits and two pigs. I have so far invested Sh6 million in the business.

READ ALSO:   Understanding Value Addition In Poultry Farming

Q3. You collect 2,800 trays of eggs in a day. How is the market?

Cecilia: I sell all of them locally at a wholesale price of Sh270 a tray, which makes them move faster. I am able to sell at the price because the production cost is low because I make my own feeds.

Q4. You hatch your own chicks?

Cecilia: I buy the layers from a supplier but I also run a hatchery where I hatch the Kienyeji eggs and sell day-olds at Sh100 each.

The layers start laying eggs after four-and-a-half months. They lay for about one-and-a-half years and once production starts decreasing, I sell them for meat.

Q5. What does it take to run a successful poultry farm?

Cecilia: Record-keeping is key as it helps monitor the egg-laying pattern and one knows if they are breaking even.

The chicken coop should be about a metre from the ground for proper aeration and for their comfort. It should also be clean as chicken poop contains high concentration of ammonia, which affects their production and quality of eggs.

You also need to network to increase knowledge of what works and to keep abreast with the market.

Then, one needs a reliable market because if you don’t sell the eggs, you may have cash-flow problems.  It is also advisable for your business to have a name. I call my farm Arebos.

Q6. What is your experience when it comes to making your own feeds?

Cecilia: I started making my own feeds after struggling with low-quality products that resulted in stunted growth and reduced production.

But instead of lumping the business into one, I made the feeds business a separate entity. I called it Prim Animal Feed.

READ ALSO:   Strange Disease Killing Livestock In Tharaka-Nithi

We make plant-based animal feeds, a venture I started six months ago. The main ingredients in the animal feeds are maize, sunflower, soya and cotton seed cake as well as wheat by-products.

Some of the items come from Uganda. We also add multivitamins and premixes.  My plan is to introduce black soldier fly soon as one of the ingredients due to its high protein content, which is significant in production for dairy cows and goats.

Currently, besides chicken feeds, I also make dairy, pig, rabbit and dog feeds. At full capacity, we will produce at least 30 tonnes of animal feeds weekly.

Q7. What licences does one need to make feeds?

Cecilia: The county business operating licence, Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) certification, weights certification, fire hazard certification and public health certification.

Q8. Feeds make or break a farm. Is that assertion correct?

John Mavuno, a veterinarian in Nyeri: Certainly, when feeds are compromised, they are likely to affect production of livestock.

One of the effects is that they can cause stunted growth and even kill. Some animal feeds do not meet the standards set by Kebs because some manufacturers cut costs by avoiding to include minerals, vitamins and premixes.

Use of aflatoxin-contaminated ingredients also affects the animals and human. Yes, one can make their own feeds if they have the knowledge to guarantee quality.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

READ ALSO:   Understanding Artificial Insemination in Goats

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!