Poultry farming is the rearing of domesticated birds such as chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese for meat or egg production. You can rear poultry birds both in small houses and in large housing complexes.
There are three main categories namely: layer farming; broiler farming and dual purpose farming. Each of these is unique in terms of management practices and targets different market segments.
It is a very lucrative business especially in Kenya with a great demand for both chicken eggs and chicken meat (the price of one egg ranges from Kshs 5 to Kshs 15 whereas 1kg of chicken goes at Kshs 200).
With that in mind, starting a poultry keeping can a profitable venture in Kenya.
- HOW TO START POULTRY FARM
- CHOOSING THE RIGHT BREED TO KEEP
- MANAGING YOUR FARM AND THE BIRDS
- HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR FARM
- HOW TO INCREASE PROFITABILITY
Location of your poultry farming project
When you are starting your poultry farming business the location of the farm is crucial. The size of the land will determine how many birds you will be able to keep and how successful your poultry farming business will be.
The land should be close enough to the market in order to reduce transportation costs and make it easy for buyers to access your birds when they need them. It should also have a good source of water which will ensure that all the birds drink clean water at all times. The source of water can either be borehole or running water from a river or dam. Ensure that power supply is available so as to keep feezers and incubators working correctly, if you have them, or plan on getting them in future.
Selection of the farming system to use in the poultry project
The chicken farming industry in Kenya can be divided into 3 different systems:
- Free range system
- Semi intensive system
- Intensive system
Each of the 3 types have their own pros and cons, making it difficult to decide which type is best for your farm.
Do a market survey of your products
- What to sell:
- I am sure you are aware of the market for chicken and eggs. But it is always a good idea to do a survey of your local area to find out what is in demand locally. You need to know, who your potential customers are, what products they are buying, why they are buying them and where they buy them.
- Don’t be aggressive about this. Be casual when you talk with people and ask your questions as if you were just curious about the topic. Some people like to talk and will go into great detail about this kind of thing. Others will not want to chat with you so much – that’s ok too!
- Doing this survey is important because it will help you understand how much money there is in the industry that you want to join as a beginning farmer. If there isn’t any or it isn’t easy for farmers like yourself, then maybe it isn’t worth getting into poultry farming at all.
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Select the bird to raise.
Once you have considered the factors mentioned above and decided to start a poultry farm, it is important that you choose the right bird for your target market. Different birds have different characteristics such as growth rate, feed conversion ratio and mortality rate. Some are also adapted to certain environments more than others.
For example, broilers are bred to grow quickly and reach a high market weight in a relatively short period of time. However, they require special feed rations that can be costly.
On the other hand, layers grow slowly but tend to be hardy birds with a low mortality rate which makes them popular for small-scale farmers in Kenya.
Housing and equipment should be bought depending on the number of birds to be kept.
Your choice of housing will have a great bearing on the cost of production. To reduce the cost of production, consider using locally available materials such as local timber or bamboo to construct the house.
For optimum yields, your housing should meet the following key requirements:
- Ensure that you keep your birds in a shelter that can protect them from adverse weather conditions such as extreme heat and cold.
- The housing system should be easy to clean and disinfect. This is important for maintaining a healthy flock.
- Proper ventilation is essential for keeping your birds comfortable and healthy. Inadequate ventilation may lead to high mortality rates due to suffocation and respiratory diseases like Newcastle disease.
Get a working capital
It is important to note that commercial poultry farming in Kenya requires a lot of capital. The capital required depends on the scale of the project. However, here is a guide on the amount of capital that is required for poultry farming in Kenya.
The first thing that you will need to get before starting your poultry egg farming business in Kenya is capital. You will require capital to be able to buy the necessary equipment and housing. Working capital will also be required to buy the first batch of birds, feeds and purchase of vaccines.
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Obtain high quality birds and quality feeds.
- Obtain high quality birds and quality feeds.
- Buy from reliable sources. This will ensure you get good quality birds which have been bred in a controlled environment and fed well.
- Top class feed will ensure the chicken have a healthy diet, grow fast and give high yields in the form of eggs or meat.
- Quality birds will fetch good prices if you decide to sell them later on, while quality feed means that you can get more eggs or meat from your chickens.
- Obtain top class drugs and vaccines for your birds. This includes antibiotics for treating diseases, disinfectants for cleaning the coops and any other medications that may be needed by your chickens such as vitamins.
Vaccinate the birds and continue with the vaccination schedule that you were given by the vet.
Vaccine your birds after a week when they are used to the new environment and feed. Vaccinate them against Gumboro, Newcastle and fowl pox diseases. You can also vaccinate the birds against other diseases that are common in your area. The vaccination schedule will be given to you by the vet when you buy the vaccine.
Additionally, working capital is also required to pay for day to day running of the farm such as electricity, water, labour and transport costs.
Ensure that you vaccinate all your chickens at once whether they are 10 or 1000. If you miss a day on the vaccination schedule as advice by your vet, continue with what is left of the schedule until it is completed then start again from day one this time round following the exact days as advised by the vet for example if you were to give 14 days of injection then miss one day, continue with 13 more days then start again from day 1 with another 14 days.
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Poultry farming in Kenya is a lucrative business but one must be ready to invest capital, time and effort for one to succeed.
Poultry farming in Kenya is one of the most lucrative business ventures you can get into due to high demand for poultry products. It involves raising domesticated birds such as chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys for meat and eggs production. Poultry farming has evolved from the traditional backyard rearing to commercial production. This is because the demand for poultry products has grown tremendously over time both locally and internationally.
Poultry farm owners have also used various innovative ways of marketing their products such as packaging and branding them in order to increase sales. Poultry farmers are now venturing into value addition through making of sausages, chicken nuggets, burgers etc to increase sales revenue.
Poultry farming business is however not all rosy as it involves quite a number of risks which are hard to predict at times that may make the business unprofitable with heavy losses incurred if one is not cautious enough or if they make mistakes along the way.
Some factors that can affect profitability include; disease outbreaks, inadequate storage facilities resulting in reduced shelf life, poor quality feeds resulted from mixing toxic substances thus causing bird poisoning ,change in consumer tastes/preferences e.t.c