Where Do You Go Wrong as a Kienyeji Chicken Farmer?

I have just chanced upon this post on the African Farmers Club Facebook Group where a farmer from Bomet is claiming that he sees zero profits in poultry farming. As a poultry farmer myself, I know that poultry farming is a low margin business and you can only make significant revenues and profits if you do the economies of scale, that is, raise thousands of chickens and do your utmost to maximize on the productivity of your chicken, be they commercial layers, commercial broilers, Rainbow Roosters, Kuroilers or the KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken.

Poultry Farming Costing
Poultry Farming Costing
Kienyeji Feeding

It is true that there are many factors that make poultry farming a pain for many farmers such as the cost of feeding, diseases and high rates of mortality, labor costs and low egg prices. These will eventually lead to massive losses for many poultry farmers. However, many of these are factors that can be mitigated in order to maximize on your profitability.

There are certain poultry farming costs that are “constants”.  These include costs such as vaccination, cost of chicks, cost of equipment and even feed costs. The prices don’t fluctuate wildly.

As a farmer, you have to factor in these costs and plan ahead. Don’t just run with these costs and cry foul. Ask yourself how you can cut down on these costs and maximize on your poultry farming profitability.

You can reduce the cost of poultry production in multiple ways:-

  • Economies of Scale: To begin seeing tangible monetary benefits from your poultry farming venture, start raising more chickens. We suggest raising 300 chickens and above to be profitable.
  • Look for ways to cut down on costs of production: There are multiple ways in which you can cut down on cost of production without impacting the health and productivity of your birds. For example, you can improvise on poultry equipment and make your own with timber instead of purchasing new ones; you don’t have to hire costly labor if you or your partner can do the job. When it comes to poultry feeds, look for areas where you can make some savings. A few hundred shillings in savings can mean a lot when you stretched over several months or several bags. Where else do you see yourself cutting down on the cost of production? Generally, if you have less than 100 birds, it is possible to manage the labor by yourself.
  • Make your own poultry feeds: While you can cut down on costs in multiple ways, the biggest target should be in the poultry feeds. Poultry feeds make up close to 70% of the production cost so cutting down your cost of feeding will make a huge difference in your overall cost-cutting plans in your poultry farming enterprise. You don’t cut down on the cost of feeding by underfeeding your birds. The best way to go about this is by formulating your own poultry feeds. Contrary to popular perception, formulating your own poultry feeds isn’t too difficult. For Kienyeji feed formulation, check out our manual on poultry feed formulation for a step-by-step guide on how to make your own poultry feeds.
  • Avoid certain costly practices: There are certain chicken husbandry practices that cost money and which may not be necessary. These include debeaking your chickens and using too much antibiotics as well as vitamins. When it comes to medication, consult a vet and use only the right amount when necessary. Before utilizing any of these, always consult a professional in order to cut down on costs.
  • Have some patience: If you are moving into poultry farming to make quick money, you are most likely going to be disappointed because you are not going to make quick cash from poultry farming. You will realize that poultry farming, be it commercial or kienyeji chicken farming, requires greater patience. Poultry farming is typically a long term investment and you will not get profits the very first time you get into the enterprise. Depending on the scale of the project, it might actually take you years to break even in your poultry enterprise. Generally, the longer you stay in the poultry farming enterprise, the higher the likelihood that you are going to make significantly more profits.
  • Manage Diseases: Poultry diseases and mortality are the leading causes of loss in productivity and yields yet only a few farmers take proactive steps to effectively manage poultry diseases and cut down on losses. Start practicing proper biosecurity and you will cut down on your cost of production significantly.
  • Good marketing: With good poultry marketing, you can cut out the middlemen or brokers and increase your margins significantly. By investing in proper poultry marketing, you are going to run a more successful poultry farming enterprise.
  • Acquire more knowledge: Knowledge is power, more so when it comes to a delicate enterprise such as poultry farming. Don’t rely on Google and hearsay alone; take time to master practical experience in poultry raising before you venture into the business. Read manuals, attend training and visit farms to learn more about the best practices before you venture into the practice.
  • Be Realistic: The biggest mistake many first-time farmers make is venturing into poultry farming with unrealistic expectations on what the venture can earn them. For example, a KARI Kienyeji or Kuroiler will not give you more eggs than hybrid commercial layers and don’t expect to be an instant poultry millionaire.
  • Avoid Me Too Syndrome: Don’t just venture into poultry farming because a friend is doing it or because you read it somewhere. Take time to evaluate what it takes and whether you have the time and resources to commit into the project. The fact that it works for a friend does not automatically mean it will work for you.
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Kienyeji Chicken House: Guidelines on Constructing an Ideal Poultry House

In most of our articles, we have placed an emphasis on the importance of good stockmanship in poultry raising. Success in poultry farming requires a great deal of expertise, knowledge of poultry and the poultry farming enterprise as well as great commitment in order to realize success in the venture.

Kienyeji Chicken House
Kienyeji Chicken House

While good flock stockmanship will help you realize success, a lot is also anchored on the quality of the infrastructure that you have put in place. You have to build the correct poultry housing and use the right sets of equipment that will help you maximize on your production. In poultry farming, good housing is generally the foundation of future success in the farming venture.

There are various aspects that you must get right when it comes to constructing poultry housing. These include the spacing, ventilation, lighting, security, orientation, design and the level of comfort provided in the poultry house.

Here is a look at some of the key considerations that you should keep in mind when constructing kienyeji chicken house or any other poultry house for your flock:-

 

  • The kienyeji chicken house should provide your birds with a strong structure and comfortable environment that helps protect them from predation and temperature and weather extremes.
  • The poultry house must have adequate space suited for the stocking density of the birds. The ideal stocking density for a chicken house is one square foot per bird for broilers and two square feet per bird for layers.
  • The chicken house must be open-sided in order to allow for proper ventilation of the chicken house. For optimal natural ventilation, the kienyeji chicken house should be constructed in an East-West orientation. This will help minimize the amount of sunshine that is directly entering the poultry house.
  • The kienyeji chicken house should be constructed in a rectangular shape and the wall should not be higher than 3 feet on its longer side.
  • Use locally available materials to make the wall and cut down on the cost of poultry house construction. Some of the local materials that you can use include timber offsets, iron sheets, bricks, mud stones and iron sheets.
  • The rest of the sides of the poultry house wall should be made with a chicken wire mesh. The chicken wire mesh on the sides of the poultry house should be of small gauge so as to prevent rodents and wild birds from getting into the poultry house.
  • The roof of the poultry house ought to have a reflecting surface for better ventilation. For better ventilation, it should also be pitched with overlaps.
  • For flooring, use cement and then add wood shavings on top. Cement flooring is very easy to clean.
  • Include a foot bath at the entrance of the poultry house where visitors can dip and disinfect their feet before they enter the chicken run and poultry coop.
  • All the vegetation around the poultry house should be cleared to reduce the risk of rodents and other crawlies gaining entrance into the poultry house. Clear all vegetation within a radius of 3 to 5m of the poultry house.
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Where Can One Get Funding to Establish a Poultry Business in Kenya?

Everyone trying to venture into a poultry farming enterprise in Kenya generally decries the general lack of funding to set up the business.

You have to realize that you don’t have to start big. You can start with as little as 40 chicks and that costs only Ksh.4000 to Ksh.6000. Surely, if you are dreaming about venturing into a poultry farming enterprise, you must be able to raise this amount of money to start you off on your poultry farm.

You don’t have to start with a mega poultry house. You can always improvise and partition a little space in your existing home or shed where you can house your chickens.

Yet, there are people who might still need extra funding  running into hundreds of thousands of shillings or even millions with which they can scale up their operations pr start a poultry farming enterprise from scratch. For that, you can tap into various sources of funding for your poultry farming enterprise which can be both formal and informal. Let us look at some of the options when it comes to funding access for your poultry farming ventures in Kenya:-

Agricultural Finance Corporation

If you are already doing something slightly big such as a poultry farm with thousands of chickens, a poultry feed processing plant or a poultry hatchery business, you can explore the funding opportunity offered by the Agricultural Finance Corporation. For more information on their financing activities, you can check out the Agricultural Finance Corporation website.

Youth Enterprise Development Fund

Many young Kenyans have used the Youth Enterprise Development Fund to access crucial funding for their agribusiness projects. However, there are certain mandatory requirements that you may need to fulfill before you access the funding. For more information on this funding opportunity, send an email to info@youthfund.go.ke.

Commercial Bank Loan

This is the least favourite option for many Kenyans due to high interest rates but if you are looking for urgent financing for your poultry project, you can discuss the loan options with your bank. There are commercial banks that have set special loan packages for agricultural enterprises that may carry lower interest rates. A couple of years ago, Equity Bank Kenya Ltd had such a package. You could get financing through this option at fairly flexible terms.

Crowdsourcing

There are various crowdsourcing websites now available that Kenyans can use to raise money for their agricultural enterprises. One of the most popular is Zidisha crowdfunding platform which is an online microledning community that connects lenders directly to borrowers. However, you will have to start small and work your way up before you are able to borrow large sums of money on the platform. You can also use a mobile fundraising platform such as M-Changa to raise money for your poultry farming initiatives. You can check out the website here http://changa.co.ke.

There are various other organizations that support poultry farmers in Kenya that you may approach for assistance. Examples of such organizations include TechnoServe and Farm Africa.

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Kienyeji Chicken Feed Formulation

Poultry feed formulation is both an art and science; a science in the sense that you have get the empirical side right and an art because you need to understand your poultry feed ingredients and use what is locally available. You have to use the right ingredients and mix them in the right proportion.

Formulating Poultry Feeds
Formulating Poultry Feeds

That requires understanding the nutritional needs of the chickens at every growing stage and then formulating a poultry feed that will meet their growth needs.

The feed formulation should both be accurate and economical so as to help the poultry flock hit their genetic potential of productivity without necessarily stretching your budget.

You need to understand each of the feed ingredients that you will in the feed formulation in terms of their nutritional composition, the nutritional constraints, ease of processing as well as the availability of these poultry feed ingredients in your locality. Poultry feeds account for 70% of the production costs so the economical side of poultry feed formulation must be looked at very closely.

In some cases where a certain raw material is not readily available at an affordable pricing, you will have to substitute it with another. You have to ensure that the raw material that you will be using as a substitute must nutritionally complement the one that you are replacing, otherwise you are going to meet the nutritional needs of your kienyeji chickens or commercial chicken breeds.

Poultry feed formulation is generally a very delicate process. Any slight mistake is going to have a serious impact on the feed utilization and long term productivity of your flock. This can be a serious issue where you have a large flock numbering in their thousands and their yields are going down considerably due to poor quality feeds, while the cost of feeding is remaining largely constant.

In commercial production systems, this will be characterized by decreased egg laying performance along with poor growth and underweight birds.

We have written widely on poultry feed formulation over the years. Please refer to the numerous articles, tips and guides that we have covered in this area:-

Kienyeji Chicken Feed Formulation Guide

Learn Kienyeji Chicken Feed Formulation

Kienyeji Chicken Feed Formulation

Kienyeji Chicken Feed Formulation Manual and Training

Kienyeji Feeds: Supplementing the Diet for Your Kienyeji Feeds

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Kienyeji Chicken Vaccination Schedule

 

The kienyeji chicken might be hardy but they still get sick and get infected by the common  poultry diseases in Kenya. The best shield against potentially deadly poultry diseases is timely vaccination. Follow the schedule below to vaccinate your kienyeji chickens in time and offer them maximum protection from critical diseases that could potentially wipe off your stock:-

Kienyeji Chicken Vaccination Schedule
Kienyeji Chicken Vaccination Schedule

Some of these vaccinations must be done at the hatchery so you must buy your day old chicks from a reputable hatchery that will not leave anything to chance to ensure the optimal health of its chicks.

 

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