Chickens gave me job I yearned for
But after four years of unsuccessful job hunting, Magdalene ventured into agribusiness, choosing poultry farming for income generation. She keeps 1,000 Kuroiler chickens on her farm in Busia for eggs and meat.
“I source my day-old chicks from Kampala in Uganda. I prefer the Kuroiler F1 type, which goes for Sh100 while the F2 and F3 varieties sell at Sh80 and Sh60 respectively.”
According to her, the F1 variety hens take five months to start laying eggs and their survival rate is high. On the other hand, the F2 takes eight months and F3 up to a year.
On arrival, she sets up the brooder guard and heaters, spreads out the litter and ensures drinkers and feeders are working to curb cannibalisation.
“The vaccination schedule is important and one must adhere to it to ensure the chickens survive. Missing Newcastle, gumboro and mareks vaccines, among others, can be disastrous.”
She notes that poultry farming is good for starters because it requires little investment compared to rearing of dairy cows. It also gives good returns in a short time.
“I started the business three years ago with Sh500,000 in capital. The money went to making chicken houses, buying the birds and feeds. I have since opened another farm in Makadara, Athi River, where I rear 500 Kuroilers.”
“With chicken rearing, you sell everything, from droppings, which are used as manure or cow feeds, feathers that are used for making pillows and artworks, eggs and meat.”
For the feathers, she has four clients, three women self-help groups that buy, dry them up an then sell them to (sofa set) carpenters There is also a youth art group that buys a kilo at Sh50.
As for the droppings, she collects about 250kg every month and sells them at Sh250 per 50kg bag. Magdalene collects 87 eggs per every 100 birds and sells each at Sh20 to farmers for hatching She says the current glut has not affected her, thanks to her business model.
“I sell a mature chicken at between Sh700 and Sh1,000 depending on size and weight. However, for hotel orders, I offer a discount of Sh50 to Sh100,” says the farmer, who picked plenty of lessons from her father, who is a vet.
But the ride has not been easy. Her main challenge is diseases. “Feeds are expensive since a 70kg bag goes for about Sh2,500, which my birds consume in two days. I have learnt how to make my own feeds from maize germ, soya meal, sunflower and cotton cakes, fish meal and calcium,” she says, adding that fluctuation of poultry products’ prices affects her income.
Christian Odinga, a veterinary officer based in Busia, says with agribusiness, one can start small and grow the venture since food will always be in high demand.