Small size: Ksh. 3, 000-20,000
Large size: Ksh. 20,001 and above
Poultry farming is one the most profitable agribusiness ventures in Kenya. Poultry farming involves rearing chicken, turkey, ducks, etc. for meat or eggs. The most common bird raised in Kenya is chicken, either as broilers and layers. Turkey and duck farming are less exploited in Kenya, and this presents lots of opportunities. To be profitable in poultry farming, you need to have the right knowledge and commitment.
Starting a poultry farming business requires little capital, especially when space is limited. However, there is no upper investment limit in this business. Some farmers inject hundreds of thousands into the business periodically, due to the returns they get from poultry farming. An example is a famous poultry producer called Muguku, who has grown his business empire from poultry farming.
Basic requirements when starting poultry farming
For a small-scale poultry farmer, you can start with a very limited area then expand as your poultry business grows. For urban and peri-urban areas, farmers prefer buying chicken cages which occupy a small area and can keep many birds at the same time. However, in the countryside where there are large tracks of land, farmers prefer keeping chicken on the free range system where birds are allowed to move freely.
If you are planning to start poultry farming in large scale, it is recommended find a piece of land in rural areas where you can build a permanent chicken house. You do not want to be evicted on a rented piece of land when you are just starting out in poultry farming.
Poultry should be provided with suitable housing that is safe and safeguards them from harsh weather conditions. A suitable house also provides protection to your poultry from predators and thieves. The housing should prevent the chicken from cold weather, too much sunshine and rain.
In most rural areas, a chicken house is built with wood offcuts, mesh wire or corrugated iron sheets. These materials are cheap and easy to maintain, especially if you are just starting out as a farmer. For many birds, partition the structure into several units. Ensure the structure is well ventilated to allow proper air circulation.
The roofing material should be solid to prevent the poultry from being rained on. One side of the walls should be constructed using mesh wire whereas the other hand should be built using off-cuts or iron sheets. You may opt to cement the floor or leave it as it is, but it is recommended to pour sawdust. Sawdust absorbs moisture and ensures the floor is not too cold for the poultry.
Lately, most farmers are preferring ready-made chicken cages rather than constructing the wooden structures. The cages are made of metal and come in different sizes and structures. You can also have a custom cage done for you from a seller. The ready-made cages have a space for laying eggs, feeding, resting, brooding, etc. The cages are more expensive than the tradition poultry housing.
There is some equipment that is needed when venturing into poultry farming. These equipment include feeders, crates, special lighting, drinkers, etc. The equipment should be well maintained and cleaned every day to prevent disease occurrence. However, in the case of modern chicken cages, these items are sometimes pre-installed, and there is no need to buy them separately.
Poultry feeds represent a substantial percentage of the chicken budget. Chicken needs a particular type of premium feeds that have nutrients, salts, minerals and other ingredients mixed in proper proportion. If you do not have enough cash to buy chicken feeds, you can get the required raw materials and research on the appropriate mixing ratios. Alternatively, you can seek the services of a Veterinary doctor on the feed mixing ratios.
When feeding your birds, ensure you provide them with adequate and clean water all through. Pour any remaining water each day to prevent the birds from contacting diseases. You can add soluble antibiotics to the water as a way of protecting the birds from common diseases.
Choosing the best poultry varieties
There are a variety of chicken breeds in Kenya, and it is wise to conduct thorough research before settling on a particular type. You may consult you Extension Officer, Vet, an experience poultry farmer or browse the web for information.
If you are planning to rear birds for meat, research on the existing broiler varieties, feeds, process and time to maturity. Similarly, if you want to venture into egg production, research on the various layers breeds that do well. Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and Kenchic are the right places to get the latest bird varieties.
Purchase the day old to one-month chicks for a start. These pullets need proper care during the first seven weeks. You may be required to provide an external heat source since chicks do not have the ability to maintain their body temperatures. Also, keep their feeders and drinkers clean all the time. At different stages of their growth, the chicks will need different feeds to help them grow.
Marketing your poultry business
The motive behind venturing into poultry farming is to make an income. A good market for your produce assures you of sustainable earnings in the future. There is a ready market in Kenya for meat, eggs and day old chicks.
The potential buyers of your products are restaurants, young farmers, shops, supermarkets, military barracks, schools, etc. You can apply for tenders to supply eggs and chicken meat to schools and barracks and get lump sum payments for each delivery.
The internet also offers a good market for your produce. You can sell your products through OLX, Whatsapp, Facebook, Print media, etc.
Before investing all your cash in poultry farming, do thorough research on the best breeds, feeds, housing, markets, etc. Attend livestock shows and farm visits and learn how to succeed in this business. Also, always maintain hygiene in your poultry house. An outbreak can wipe out all your birds due to a simple mistake.