By Lillian Kiarie
Kenya: Dawn finds Mr Edward Kamau on the busy Thika Highway transporting ducks to his customers. Business has been good since he started marketing his products on social media and e-commerce sites.
Mr Kamau sells a drake (male duck), which weighs an average six kilogrammes, at Sh1,500.
“A female duck costs around Sh1,300 since it is lighter in weight. I sell eggs at between Sh30 and Sh50, depending on the size,” he says.
He also sells ducklings at between Sh100 and Sh600, depending on their age.
Benefits of duck
He runs his farm from Nairobi’s Kahawa West and charges Sh300 to make deliveries around the county’s environs.
So why duck over more traditional poultry like chicken?
“Duck farming is a safer venture because the birds rarely contract poultry diseases, so their chances of survival are higher than for chicken, and they also require less attention,” he says.
Kamau adds that when brooding, a duck is also more likely to hatch all her eggs.
The venture is yet to be fully embraced in the Kenyan market following assumptions by some Kenyans that ducks are dirty and mostly found in sewers.
However, they make for very flavourful meat, and duck eggs are particularly delicious when used for baking.
Ms Sandra Kando, the owner of Sandy Pastries in Langata, Nairobi, says that duck eggs are not only larger than chicken eggs, but also more nutritious, with high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, and mineral content and alkaline properties that are good for cancer patients.
“Their albumen makes cakes and other pastries fluffier and richer in taste. However, since they have a higher cholesterol level than chicken eggs, you should not use too many when baking,” she says.
From scrambling to frying and boiling, you can cook a duck egg just as you would a chicken egg.
A duck egg, however, has a tougher shell that can be a bit difficult to crack, but this gives it a longer shelf life.
If you plan on buying duck eggs for incubation, Kamau says you should avoid handling them with your bare hands as female ducks can smell that the eggs have been touched and will keep off brooding.
Duck meat, on the other hand, is a good source of several nutrients, including protein, phosphorus, riboflavin, iron, zinc and magnesium.
However, its skin is high in fat and cholesterol, so discard it if you are health conscious, have high cholesterol levels or heart problems.
Duck feathers are used to fill pillows and duvets to make them soft and fluffy, and you can also use them for tying flies for fly fishing.
Mr Daniel Nyambu is another entrepreneur who has cashed in on duck farming. The Voi resident buys ducks from his neighbours and sells them at higher prices.
“I buy a duck at Sh1,000 and sell it at Sh2,500. I act as a middle man and because the demand for the birds has been growing, especially in restaurants, I have been able to make good returns,” he says.
Mr Nyambu reveals that he is not very keen on selling fertilised duck eggs, but if he comes across them, he sells each at Sh70.
As with a lot of other poultry, you can feed ducks with what you would feed chicken.
“I feed my ducks chicken mash, but they also eat small worms, weeds, seeds, grains, nuts and fruit,” Kamau says.
The feed should be set out in wide containers that cannot be tipped over. This allows several ducks to feed at a time.
Also, since ducks enjoy muddy environments, stable feeding containers will prevent them making a mess or wasting your resources by toppling over feed or water.
Normally, a mature duck will eat four to six jots of feed a day, depending on the season — they eat more when it is cold.
Also, consider building the ducks a small, makeshift pool. Kamau used an old 3,000-litre water tank to construct a pond for his ducks to play around in and cool off. Exposure to too much sun is bad for ducks and they could easily die.
If you do not have a lot of water, it could prove expensive to keep the birds. They consume a lot of water and their droppings smell particularly foul, which means you need to clean out their cages regularly.
For contacts or information on the companies profiled, email [email protected]