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What it took to set up mega poultry business

By Nathan Ochunge
Sanfay Farm General Manager Erick Nanjalale explaining how a charcoal jiko works in providing heat in a brooder. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

It’s around 10am and the Smart Harvest team is at Sanfay Farm, a vast poultry farm in Muyayi village, Bungoma County. The owner, Evans Kakai, a former director at the Kenya Revenue Authority, is vaccinating two-week old improved Kienyeji chicks against Newcastle disease. His five-acre farm is surrounded by green houses and poultry houses erected above fish ponds. The water from the fish pond has an outlet that flows into another plot adjacent to the fish farm where Sukuma wiki, night shade and spinach grow. Inside the green houses, tomatoes have been planted.

Almost gave up

“This is integrated system of farming. Here waste from the chickens, is given to the fish. The water in fish ponds provides warm moisture to the chicken at night and is a cost saving measure. The fish also feeds on the chicken mash,” explains Mr Kakai.

His journey into farming started in 2013, when he was remaining with five years to the end of his contract. As he was exploring his next course of action, he settled on rearing chicken. To set the ball rolling, he bought 200 month old indigenous chicks from one of the villagers. But there was a problem... Even after feeding them, they took too long to start laying eggs. They were also heavy feeders.

Almost gave up

“Having been in the corporate world for long, I was almost giving up because of this setback. But before I threw in the towel, a friend took me to the Nairobi ASK Show where I met experts who enlightened me on rearing improved Kienyeji chicken,” recalls Kakai.

In 2014, he took a leap of faith and with the help of his Farm Manager, Eric Njalale, who holds a degree in Agriculture, sold off the local breed and used the money to construct 10 poultry houses.

“We bought 5,000 one-day old chicks — Kenbrow breed, at a cost of Sh100 each. We followed the requisite feeding and vaccination regime and after five months, they started laying eggs. Finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel,” says Kakai.

From that day, things have never been the same again. Now, on a good day, he collects between 4,000-4,500 eggs per day and sell a crate at Sh320. The farm’s manager, Mr Njalale says they have a ready market in Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Kakamega and Nakuru counties. They also have a contract to supply 2,000 chickens every week to Village Market in Nairobi.

To make work easier, they bought a lorry (carrier with freezer) for taking chicken and fish meat to the market. From chicken business, they have constructed 38 fish ponds and stocked them with 1,000 fingerlings per pond. Sanfay Farm now has over 15,000 Kienyeji improved chicken.

The challenge

Though they have broken even, their main challenge is when brooding day old chicks.

“This is the stage where most poultry farmers go wrong, leading to losses.”

Njalale says they use a light a jiko which is placed inside the brooder.

 “The room should be well ventilated so that the chicks don’t die as a result of breathing carbon monoxide.”

He says a poultry farmer should ensure that when the chicks are one-day old, they are vaccinated against Newcastle disease and after a week, a farmer should administer gumboro vaccine. After two weeks, Newcastle vaccine should be administered again.

After 21 days, they should be vaccinated against infectious bronchitis disease which is also mixed in water and after 4 weeks, a farmer should repeat also administer the Newcastle vaccine.

“To ensure the vaccine is administered well, give the chicks food but starve them of water. Mix 1,000 vowels of the vaccine in 20 litres of water and put on drinking troughs. Vaccination improves their immunity and protects them against paralysis,” says Njalale.

Mr Eliud Wafula, an animal expert says the chicks should only feed on chick mash up to three months and upgraded to growers mash.

“A 14 day chick and below should feed on 30 grams of chick mash a day and temperatures should be between 28 -30 degrees,” says Wafula.

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