In Kenya, the story of the poultry industry is one that is full of many successes. There is a billionaire poultry farmer in Kenya who has built up an entire value chain around the poultry industry including factories for manufacturing feeds, processing poultry, incubation facilities, eggs and poultry supermarkets and which employees thousands of Kenyans. There are also many poultry millionaires and “thousandnaires” in Kenya who have been able to build good cash flows and revenue streams from poultry farming. First, here is a brief overview of some of the most successful poultry companies in Kenya:-
Brade Gate Poultry Industries
Started by Dr. Thuo Mathenge, these are a group of companies that are active in the entire poultry value chain in Kenya. The company was established in 2011 to help transform the poultry industry in Kenya and also take it to the next level. Today, the group runs a series of companies including a breeding farm, a plant for hatching chicks, a chicken processing plant as well as a feed mill where quality commercial poultry feeds are manufactured. Brade Gate Poultry Industry also runs a supermarket where farmers can purchase all their poultry related materials such as the equipment, poultry feeds as well as information on poultry farming. Through its Chicken Republic brand, the company supplies quality poultry products locally, regionally and internationally to diverse clientele. This is a company that is generating billions of shillings through poultry farming. The company even has a hotel where it serves some of the finest chicken tastes from the Brade Gate Poultry Industries.
This is one of the largest if not the largest poultry farm in Western Kenya. The company is situated in Trans Nzoia County, some 20km from Kitale town and is mainly involved in the breeding of the indigenous Kienyeji chicken in order to come up with better chicken breeds. The proprietor, Dr. Mwangale, has spent many years in poultry consultancy and established his indigenous poultry breeding farm after seven years of breeding research.
Today the company is one of the largest suppliers of fertilized eggs to hatcheries and chicks to farmers in the Western and the Nyanza region. The company also trains farmers in the Nyanza and Western region in improved poultry farming techniques that will lead to an improvement in the yields.
Based in Eldoret, Kukuchic is the leading producer of the breeder as well as supplier of the Rainbow Rooster birds and the Fast White Rainbow chicks in East Africa. The company has a hatchery and three breeder farms in Eldoret. It has more than 20,000 parent stock of the Rainbow Rooster. The company has a massive hatchery with a capacity of 240,000 chicks per month. KukuChic has also ventured cross-border in Uganda where it has established a hatchery and a breeder farm. Its latest investment are the poultry feed mills which it is now constructing and which it hopes will help farmers lower their cost of production through high quality but lower costs poultry feeds.
Caleb Karuga’s story has been widely publicized in both the local and international media. He quit his media career and ventured into poultry farming, particularly of the kienyeji breed. After a few years of hard work, he now runs a multi-million shilling poultry farm in Kiambu, Wendy Farms, where he rears kienyeji chicken but also does large scale hatching of chicks.
But that is just one part of the poultry farming in Kenya. The other successes are in the thousands of Kenyans who start with as little as Ksh.5000 and go on to build successful poultry farming that earns them incomes of as much as Ksh.100,000 per month in just a few years.
Many Kenyans from all over the country have seen the great potential of poultry farming in Kenya. They are no longer raising chickens just for Christmas and Easter. People have began thinking critically on how they can commercialize this lucrative industry and make lots of money while meeting the poultry consumption demands of Kenyans. There are many factors which work in Kenyans’ favor and which can enable them to quickly establish a poultry farming business in Kenya. These include the following:-
- The low cost of the day old chicks
- A large network of farmers and vets from which you can draw support
- A large and ready market for poultry products
- Solid research into the industry guided by KARI
- Good investment in poultry farming by non-governmental organizations such as Technoserve
Poultry Farming Techniques in Kenya
As discussed in our poultry farming manuals, there are numerous farming systems which you can adopt as a poultry farmer. These include the small scale confined farming system, the improved semi-free range poultry farming system in Kenya and the intensive commercial poultry farming system. The free range system is not productive enough nor is it suitable for a commercial scale where you would wish to make some good money from your poultry investments.
Commercial poultry farming in Kenya means that you have to invest in better housing, better feeding, better health management and better feeding in order to improve the yield of your poultry. There is a technique that you need to use in order to build an ideal poultry house that will lead to higher survival rates for your poultry. These simple models are covered in our poultry farming guidebook and manuals.
Exotic Versus Kienyeji Breeds
The Poultry products which are currently commanding the Kenyan market are the broilers. These can be produced in very efficient conditions within a very short time. They typically mature very fast but they also consume vast amounts of feeds. In the recent years, there have been concerns that some Kenyan farmers are injecting these broilers with growth hormones in order to accelerate their growth. This has led many Kenyans to embrace more organic poultry products in the form of the Kienyeji chicken breeds.
Since the old kienyeji chicken is not as productive, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute carried out an extensive research over 10 years and came up with an IMPROVED version of the traditional kienyeji chickens which has higher yields both in terms of meat and eggs and which matures relatively faster.
As a Kenyan kienyeji farmer, there are many other kienyeji-like breeds that you can also opt for. These include the following:-
- The Rainbow Rooster hens
- KARI Improved Kienyeji Chicken
The advantage with all of these birds is that they can easily do well in the hardy conditions in which many Kenyans rear their kienyeji chickens. They are also cheap to source with the one day old chicks costing only Ksh.100 each. The hard part would be in the brooding of the chicks. If you do not take adequate preparations during the brooding management and fail to regulate temperature adequately, you are likely to see a very high mortality rate in your chicks.
What Chicken Breeds Should You Choose
If you are going to invest in the commercial production of both meat and eggs, then you can go for the broiler and layers respectively which mature faster and also lay very many eggs. You can source these from the hatcheries.
However, as mentioned above, one of the new trends in Kenya is kienyeji chicken farming because many Kenyans now want ORGANIC chicken meat which is free of chemicals or growth hormones. They want chicken which have grown naturally and matured at the right age without any boosters, chemicals or hormones because these are not only healthy, they are also very sweet chicken. In Kienyeji chicken farming business, one of the requirements that you need to incorporate is a chicken run where you provide the hens some pasture land or grazing area where they can scavenge, eat some grass, termites and get exposed to sunshine. This is one of the main factors that contributes to a very good quality and nutritious meat and eggs.
If you want to buy the KARI Improved Kienyeji chicken, you can place an order at the KARI Naivasha and wait three weeks for these to be delivered to you. Alternatively, you can use any of the local hatcheries which are available and which have a reputation for good quality.
We have written extensively on this blog and on our manuals about the kind of housing that you should build for your birds. It should have the right density as too much congestion will contribute to a poor living environment which in turn impacts the yield of your farm. It should have the right ventilation. You can choose to go with the deep litter system based on the ground or with the raised floor system which can accommodate a larger number of birds.
Housing can be as expensive as you wish it to be or as cheap as you wish it to be. There are certain materials which when used, will significantly lower the costs of building a house. For example, when constructing housing for one of our clients, we used the timber offsets or planks of wood with lengths of up to 12 or 24 feet and each of these cost us only Ksh.80. We purchased 200 timber offsets which were sufficient to build a 30 feet by 15 feet chicken house capable of accommodating up to 500 birds.
In some places in Kenya, the timber offsets are likely more expensive and thus the costs are likely higher than this. Two rolls of chicken wire was sufficient for us for the Kienyeji Chicken house. Some people use bricks and concrete and some even iron sheets or clay in order to build the outer structure. As long as you have the right density and the right ventilation for the chicken house, you shouldn’t really be limited with the kinds of materials that you will use for the chicken house.
The other issue with chicken house is that you will have to construct a chicken run where the hens can graze and feed during the day and get exposed. Here, you can use barbed wire and the chain link wire on top of it. Make sure the chicken run fence is at least six feet in height.
If you will be building multiple chicken houses in rows for a truly large scale commercial chicken farming, make sure they are spaced out at least 40 feet apart if you have sufficient space to work with. Ensure the litter is removed on a daily basis and the houses replenished with clean food and water.
We have plenty of details on chicken feeding covered on our feed formulation manual. This includes what you should feed and at what age. With the kienyeji breeds, you can supplement the commercial feeds with feeds such as grains, fishmeal etc in order to lower the cost of production. Getting the hens to also graze outside is also a way of lowering the cost of your production and management.
Cleanliness and good feeding is very key to the success of your poultry farming venture. Know the vaccinate schedule for the chicken and make sure you do it on time. Whenever you notice anything unusual such as the sudden or mysterious deaths of the chicks, ensure you call the vets as soon as possible. Good housing and good fencing will also help keep out many predators, both animals and humans.
Do not just rear your poultry in a vacuum. Good record keeping will help you keep tabs on various aspects of your poultry production including mortality rates, vaccination, amount of feeding, feeding costs and many others.
Once you have reared your birds to maturity, this should really be the easier part. There are numerous places where you can sell your poultry produce such as restaurants, hotels, schools, events, Facebook, local markets and many more. You can also sign up on our Kienyeji Marketing Network for Ksh.500 and let us market your poultry produce for you.