Category Archives: Kienyeji Chicken Farming

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.

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


Are Your Kienyeji Chicken Going to Blind?

There are many reasons why your kienyeji chicken may go blind. For example, they may have suffered an eye trauma following a fight or scratching by other chickens or they may get blind due to diseases such as sinusitis.

Ammonia is One of the Major Causes of Blindness in Chickens
Ammonia burns is One of the Major Causes of Blindness in Chickens

A common reason, though, why your chickens may suffer full or partial blindness is due to the effect of ammonia burns caused by poor ventilation.

If the poultry housing is not well ventilated, there will be an accumulation of ammonia gas in the poultry shed. Ammonia is a highly irritating gas and can lead to ammonia burns on the eyes that causes full or partial blindness.

The ammonia burns on the eyes of your chickens will begin with watery eyes and then progress to an accumulation of solidified pus-like substance in the eyes. This will eventually lead to a condition called keratoconjuctivitis.

There are various steps that you can undertake in order to reduce the accumulation of ammonia gas in your poultry house. These include the following:-

  • Avoid fully covering the poultry house at night. There are harmful gases and substances emitted by the poultry waste that must be taken out via the ventilation system in the poultry house. These are ammonia gas, carbon-dioxide and even dust. Fresh air from outside also needs to get into the poultry house.
  • Make sure that litter in the poultry house is not wet. If the litter is accumulated, remove it after every four weeks and add fresh litter in the poultry house. Water spillage can cause a lot of sanitation problems in the poultry house so these must be removed as quickly as possible.
  • The bird should be spaced out well in the poultry house so as to avoid overcrowding. When constructing a poultry house, you must also take into account the number of chickens that you are planning to raise. The size of the poultry house must support the desired stocking density.

Treatment for Blind Chickens

There are certain blindness in chicken that still be reversed while others such as those caused by trauma are irreversible.

For birds affected by ammonia burns, you can use eye ointments such as Probeta or even a tetracycline eye ointment. Make sure that you apply the eye ointment twice a day for three .days and check if you see any improvement. You can also contact your nearest vet.


Poultry Layers in Kenya: Why Do Chickens Stop Laying?

With proper management, the mortality rate for your poultry layers should be very low. At rearing, the mortality rate generally does not exceed 5%. At lay, the mortality rate shouldn’t exceed 8% with proper rearing techniques. The age of lay in your chickens should start at between 18 to 20 weeks for the commercial layers.

However, one issue that some farmers may grapple with is where the chicken starts to lay eggs and then stops along the way. There are several reasons why your chickens can stop laying eggs. Typically, a high performing hen should lay over 24 eggs per month. Chickens lay 2 eggs every 3 days in their peak performance as the egg formation process takes anywhere from 25 to 26 hours.

But egg production may reduce below this level or stop entirely for a number of reasons. These include the following:-

  • The hen has been laying for more than 12 months.
  • Change in the weather condition that leads to stress. Chickens react badly to stress and this can severely affect their productivity resulting in fewer eggs or the hen stopping to lay altogether.
  • Stresses caused by transportation, vaccination or debeaking. As stated above, chickens are creatures of habit and have very poor coping mechanisms. If you will be taking your laying or point of lay hens through a stressful experience such as transportation, make sure that you take precautions to reduce the stress as much as possible.
  • Disturbances in their surroundings such as litter removals, noises or even predators.
  • Feed Rationing: Are you rationing the feeds to cut down on costs? That will just result in a sudden drop in egg production.
  • Poor quality feeds: Take care where you source your layer mash. If the feed is poorly formulated, it is most likely going to impact the layer performance.
  • Lack of sufficient clean drinking water: Your chickens need lots of fresh and clean drinking it water. An insufficient amount of it or poor quality drinking water is going to impact egg laying performance.
  • Lack of sufficient lighting.
  • Internal and external parasites in your poultry such as dust mites can impact egg production.

As a farmer, you can always make an intervention in order to address many of these factors and restore your egg production to the previous levels.


Eggs for Kenya: How to Get the Best Layer Performance in Kenya

It is possible to get very good laying performance with the current chicken breeds in Kenya, particularly the commercial layers. Even the improved kienyeji chicken breeds delivers a fairly good laying performance.

Egg production in Kenya
Egg production in Kenya

However, to get the best out of your layers, it is important to understand the laying capabilities of your chickens. You must also learn how to properly budget for your layer feeds from when they are day old to the time they hit the point of lay; know when to expect the first eggs, when to expect peak production in your layers, the duration of lay of your chickens as well as how to differentiate your laying chickens from the non-layers. All this information will guide you on how best to optimize your production for the best performance.

If you are raising chickens to lay eggs, you must not be “farm blind”. Make sure that you fully grasp all the factors that will impact the production of eggs.

The number of eggs that your chickens will lay will depend on a number of factors. These variables include the breed of the chickens, the management of the pullets before they begin laying eggs, the management of lighting in the poultry production system, management of poultry nutrition as well as the management of the space that is available for raising your layers.

The Chicken Breed

As a farmer, you have to decide on the best layer chicken breeds that you are going to rear. Consult widely in order to choose the best breeds that will give you the desired performance. After choosing your preferred breed, look for quality breeders or hatcheries that supply this breed that will guarantee you of optimal egg production.

However, the breed alone will not guarantee you optimal egg production from your layers. Ultimately, the quality of your flock management will determine whether your layers hit their genetic potential and produce the desired number of eggs.

The Pullet Management

The pullets must be managed well for them to produce a good number of eggs later on. The management must focus on the nutrition, lighting and the control of diseases.

When they are at the point of lay, the pullets will weigh about 1.5kg. A  bird should not lay eggs before it has attained the right size otherwise it is likely to suffer from the prolapses of the cloaca.


The layers should be dewormed after every 8 weeks and debeaked when they are between eight weeks and twelve weeks.

Debeaking is a delicate task and you must call in a qualified poultry expert to do the debeaking. The lower beak of the hen should generally be longer as this will allow the hen to scoop the food.  The pullet management is a critical stage so it must be managed properly as it will impact the overall success or failure of your poultry farming enterprise.

Light Management

Lighting is one of the most important factors in layer performance. Light plays an important role in the poultry growth, reproduction and behavior. As a farmer, you must manage the lighting efficiently and maintain it an optimal level that will support efficient production.

Reproduction-wise, lighting will impact the sexual maturity of your chickens. The layers will need 24 hour of lighting during their first four weeks. Increasing the day length will increase the rate of sexual maturity of the birds and they are likely to begin laying eggs early.

However, if your pullets are stimulated to begin laying eggs earlier than usual, such as before 17 or 18 weeks, the chickens will likely not hit their lifetime genetic laying potential. To hit maximum egg production, you must provide the chickens with up to 16 hours of lighting during their peak lay.

The lighting duration should never be reduced when the chickens are in lay. However, watch out not to provide the hens with too much lighting. Too much lighting is likely to bring out various abnormal behaviors in your poultry such as aggression, egg eating and cannibalism.

Layer Nutrition

In order to sustain optimal egg production over the laying period, the layer chickens must be fed a balanced diet. The layer chickens will require proteins, energy, vitamins, minerals and fats. However poultry feeding is costly, particularly for layer chickens. Generally, poultry feeding costs alone generally account for 70% of the entire production costs. This can drive some farmers into seeking shortcuts such as the adulteration of poultry feeds that will most certainly distort the poultry feed formulation for the layer chickens and the layer performance.

Between day old and 8 weeks old, a single layer chicken will consume 2kg of chick mash. A single pullet will consume 7kg of the growers mash between the ages of 9 weeks and 20 weeks. Cumulatively, a layer chicken will consume 50kg of the poultry mash throughout their entire optimal laying life that lasts 12 months. You can multiply this by the number of layers in your flock to estimate the total feeding costs for your layers.

In case you find your hens eating more, there is likely some spillage or poor feed conversion. For example, spillage can occur when your chickens eat more when it is cold.


Water is also very critical to the survival and performance of your birds. As we have stated repeatedly, your chickens will never forgive you if you fail to provide them with fresh and adequate amounts of water. It is likely to affect their performance and productivity over the long haul.

During normal temperatures, your chickens will consume more two times more water than feeds. In high temperatures, the water consumption may even triple or quadruple their feed consumption. Always ensure that the birds are sufficiently supplied with fresh and adequate amounts of water so as to ensure good egg production.

Floor Space

The floor space also factors into the performance of your layers. Give each of your layers at least two square feet of space. You can also add some perches where some of the birds can roost at night.

The perches will also concentrate manure at single points that makes cleaning the poultry houses a lot easier. Perches also fill an instinctual need. Chickens have a natural desire to perch so providing this allows them to express their natural behavior which is good for their welfare.

The floor should be covered with wood shavings that will cushion the birds and absorb the moisture. Make sure that you also provide enough nesting areas for the laying birds. The nesting areas should be situated in corners away from the feeders and the waterers.