Poultry farming huge losses that made me wiser and richer after all
In one of the pens, the chickens squawk loudly as they seek our attention. Juliana is holding a yellow bucket in her left hand and a white plastic bowl in her right.
It is feeding time, the chickens know from the two containers they have gotten used to. With over 1,500 birds, Juliana is a big chicken farmer in the area.
“I turned to commercial chicken rearing about a year ago, but I had been keeping indigenous chickens albeit on a small-scale for the past 20 years.”
Juliana gets close to 500 eggs in a day. “I bought 600 chicks from a hatchery when I started, but over 100 died after about six weeks. I remained with the ones that are currently laying eggs,” Juliana tells.
“Then, I was transiting from free range chicken to layers. I did not have any experience in keeping chicks. The birds died due to crowding at one corner of the pen,” she explains.
Besides, the pen’s floor had a wire mesh, which did not keep the birds warm, leading to the crowding in a corner.
Once bitten, the farmer became wiser and improved the structure of her chicken pens.
She keeps her birds in storeyed houses with a tray to collect droppings. The rich manure finds its way to her garden where she grows different vegetables.
The floors are more than six-foot high thus allowing free movement of the people working inside, while at the same time ensuring that the rooms are well-aerated.
The pens have four cubicles each holding 125 birds and are equipped with feeds and water troughs fashioned out of plastic materials. Then there are laying boxes that slant outwards to allow the eggs to roll to an outer compartment where they are easily collected from outside the house.
The 500 layers produce between 420 and 450 eggs daily that are bought by local business people, bakers and institutions.
With an egg selling at Sh10, Juliana earns an average of Sh4,200 daily. Half of this goes to the feeds.
“Feeds are expensive. They consume a lot of money. I am yet to start making my feeds but it is an option I am working on.”
She further keeps at least 600 broilers.
“Broilers eat a lot and grow very fast. They are ready for slaughtering at eight weeks and if the market is good, one is always assured of quick returns on their investment,” she says.
With the help of her daughter and an employee, Juliana slaughters the broilers at her farm for customers who buy at between Sh400 and Sh500.
“Chicken houses must be clean. Hygiene is important, if you do not keep the pens clean, the chickens will die. No visitor should enter the chicken pen before their feet are disinfected,” she advises.
The enterprising woman keeps a further 200 indigenous chicken, whose products, she says, are popular in the market.
“I sell the kienyeji eggs and chickens at local markets,” says the farmer, who credits her success to her first loss.
The mother of five grown up children says she will keep increasing her flock. Proceeds from the business have helped her pay fees for her children currently attending college.