Poultry farming is gaining momentum in Kirinyaga County, thanks to an expanding market and quick returns associated with the business.
Among the growing list of prominent farmers is David Mwaniki and his wife Tabitha Wangui with a capacity to supply orders of over 10,000 day-old-chicks. Their farm manufactures its own feed and also makes incubators for sale.
Their farm is located at Kathiga village, two kilometres from Kutus town towards Kagio town, started poultry farming back in 2010 after he quit farming of tomatoes and French beans.
Mwaniki said he realized much of the money from horticulture farming ended up with the brokers.
The start was however challenging. The farmer said he went for the first incubator from Nairobi but was faulty in that first batch of eggs failed to hatch.
On the second attempt, he said, out of 360 eggs in the incubator, only six hatched which made him stop the business for a time.
He realized he had been conned of his Sh40,000 he had used in the purchase of the incubator which was faulty.
“Having fallen victim in the first time, I decided to source for a second incubator from around and luckily managed to get a technician who had the expertise to make one.”
But he used the opportunity to learn how to make the incubators himself so that in case of breakdown, he is able to repair. Little did he know he would learn the whole craft.
“Since then, I have made and sold over fifty incubators to the local farmers who are in the poultry business. We have saved farmers the agony of sourcing the incubators from Nairobi.”
The farmer rears Rainbow roster types of poultry which grows fast and can start laying eggs in just four months.
Mwaniki said he prefers traders who come and buy his chicken in bulk in order to make a better profit.
“We are also in the business of making our own feed which we started after our birds were affected by the feeds we bought from the shop. I bought a mill and a mixing machine which we use to make the feeds. We sell some of the feeds to our colleagues.
” Mwaniki said they get the raw material from a company in Kagio town which includes maize germ, cotton seeds, sunflower, and other ingredients and later use a certain formula to come up with the quality feed.
Wangui, Mwanikis wife says they also trade in one-day chicks which they hatch in their two incubators. Tabitha’s work is to tend to the chicks and keeping their environment clean.
She said she has developed a checklist for farmers to consider, especially when buying one-day-old chicks for commercial purposes.
She said they advise farmers to purchase chicks from hatcheries certified by agricultural stakeholders like KARLO.
“The hatchery must also be in a position to display its valid license and receipt must be offered after the sale.”