Diary of a poultry farmer: Weight matters in poultry production

The worker informed me that each weighed 2kg after dressing. Because I sell a kilo of dressed chicken meat at Sh700 each, the cost for the two was Sh2,800.

To be cock sure, I questioned the worker which scale he’d used to weigh the chicken. He revealed that he’d used the manual one that he normally uses to weigh feedstuffs (when a scale is graded to a minimum of 500g, it’s difficult to estimate the exact weight if it falls between one and 499g).

I then asked him to weigh the chicken again using the digital scale that we use for feed additives and the difference was astounding.

After adding transport costs and grinding the cake, I realised that I was buying a kilo of sunflower at Sh69. I then started buying from Thika town where, although a kilo retailed at Sh38, I was assured of the correct weight.

Later, I learnt that weight-cheating is not limited to animal feedstuffs and feed mashes. It happens every day at fuel pumps, in supermarkets and butcheries.

The problem with this practice that many farmers and customers ignore, or are totally oblivious of, is that it increases operational costs and reduces profits.

Weight cheating is also punishable by law. The Weight and Measures Regulations Act states that traders who flout the law on weights should face Sh500,000 fine or a jail term not exceeding one year.

In most cases, buyers of cereals are not aware that a ‘gorogoro’ (a tin used as a standard measure for weight) is not equivalent to 2kg.

The reason is simply that volume is not equivalent to weight (read ‘mass’). Get it from me; a gorogoro of maize does not weigh the same as a gorogoro of millet, or that of sunflower cake, even if they occupy the same space in the tin.

I figured out a way to reduce weight–cheating long ago. These days, I tag along two weighing scales in my car always: a digital scale for measuring minerals in grams and a normal scale for bulky things like maize germ.

The reason is that when a chicken is slaughtered and dressed, the weight reduces by about half a kilo. The weight for a live chicken could also range between 1 and 3kg and if the cost remains constant, the customer gets a raw deal.

Therefore, they averaged 3.1kg (Sh2,170). Because he’d paid Sh2,800, I’d to refund him Sh630. If you think about it, Peter would’ve paid for an extra kilo of meat he didn’t carry home, which is not fair.

I wondered how many consumers end up like him and sellers don’t recompense them. I cautioned the worker against using the scale for feedstuffs to weigh chicken meat.

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