With the increased demand of broiler chicken meat back in 2011, Peter Ndeche and two friends tried their luck at poultry farming.
Ndeche has a degree in agricultural engineering. His friends, Humphrey Otuko has a background in human resource management while Villear Omolo is an agricultural extension expert. The three were employees of Mumias Sugar Company.
“We had been given houses by the management within the company quarters that had extra bedrooms. We converted them to poultry houses and stocked 200 broiler chicks which we had bought from an agrovet in Kakamega town at Sh60 each,” said Mr Ndeche.
According to Ndeche, the chicks fed on starter crumbs for two weeks and then they changed the feeds to broiler finisher for four weeks, saying at six weeks, the birds were ready for meat.
Ndeche said they only administered vaccination four times: Newcastle vaccine at day 3, day 21 and week 4, and gumboro at day 7 and at day 18.
Mumias Sugar employees were their biggest market, followed by leading hotels in Kakamega County. They sold each broiler at Sh450, making a profit of Sh250 per bird.
Getting into trouble
“We became a household name since we offered the after service of slaughtering and packaging the birds for our customers. We started making good money and then we run into trouble with the management forcing us to move out of the houses they gave us,” said Ndeche.
“We were told it was illegal to rear birds in staff quarters as they would make the compound dirty and a breeding ground for diseases.”
He said they used the profits from the business to secure an acre of land within Mumias town at Sh300,000 and then expanded their business to 1,500 broilers which they would sell after every 6 weeks.
“We made a lot of money between 2012 and 2013. Buyers would book them in advance but after the elections, the market dwindled and we winded up the business,” said Ndeche.
His friends majored in dairy farming and he was left in the cold thereafter.
Ndeche said in early 2014 when Mumias Sugar started making losses, they would go for many months without being paid salaries, making him spend all his saved money taking care of his family.
His wife, Christine Namaemba, now became the bread winner of the family since he had exhausted all his savings, saying with no salary and no business at hand, he had been reduced to a pauper.
New lease in life
In 2017, when Sukari Sacco took them for a training on rearing of livestock and Kienyeji improved birds at Egerton University and at Githongo Dairy Farm in Juja, he was encouraged to try out poultry farming again.
Sukari Sacco allowed him to take all the Sh150,000 he had saved at the Sacco. He told his wife he wanted to start poultry farming again.
“My wife has a background in agriculture and when I shared the idea with her, she promised to help me out. We talked to our landlord and rented his premises and stocked 1,500 chicks which we bought at Sh65 each in February 2017,” said Ndeche.
After two weeks, he sold 500 chicks at Sh150 each totaling Sh75,000 and recovered the money he spent on buying them from a poultry farmer in Busia town. He bought another 1,000 day-old chicks.
With no sales for three months, the birds became big and a new challenge emerged. As a result of congestion, they started dying.
“My initial plan was to sell only day-old chicks, but here I was with three-month old birds. I started selling them for meat to poultry brokers who conned me and for the second time. I incurred losses. I almost gave up but my wife told me to remain in the business,” said Ndeche.
In late 2017, his breakthrough came after making contact with upcoming poultry farmers he had trained with.
“I am now earning a living by selling chicks, eggs and the birds for meat. Despite the fact that I haven’t received any salary from Mumias Sugar for the last three years, I am now comfortable. Proceeds from the birds have made me accomplish many projects,” said Ndeche who last year sold more than 13,000 chicks. This year, he has already sold 7,000 chicks.
His wife, Namaemba, said they are planning to have more than 10,000 layers by the end of this year and that they have saved enough money to buy incubators. Every month, they will be hatching 5,000 chicks.
On feeding, Ms Namaemba says chicks should feed on chick mash until they are two months old. A farmer should then change to grower’s mash until they start seeing the first eggs at which point they change to layers’ mash.
They currently hatch their eggs at Armstrong Rapudo’s farm, a poultry farmer who has incubators with a capacity of over 5,000 eggs.