[Caleb Kingwara, Standard]

Modern poultry farming probably began after the First World War, starting as a cottage farming practice providing kitchen table needs. For many years it became the only cheap source of nutrition for poor families back in the days, providing both eggs and meat. Today, poultry farming is a huge business that involves other operations like hatcheries, feed mills, processing plants, broiler and layer farms for meat and egg production respectively. In nearly all setups, poultry farming is highly profitable, but only if it is run under strict and specific operational principles. Here are some of the basic acceptable rules for a profitable venture.

  1. Employ a good poultry attendant.

You need a trained or skilled attendant with basic knowledge of good poultry husbandry practices and to equip them with better skills in stockmanship, healthcare, and management through training and exposure. A good poultry attendant doesn’t necessarily need to have a high level of education but needs skills that are learnt after a period and experience from several cycles of different flocks in different seasons. A good stockman must master the art of carefully listening and be extremely observant of abnormal sights and sounds inside the unit and link them to possible danger. 

  1. Choose the right breed and type of poultry for your market.

Poultry are birds specifically raised for commercial or domestic purposes, they include popular breeds like chickens, Turkeys, Ducks, and Geese. Others include ornamental birds, Guinea fowls, Ostriches, and Quails. Please choose the right bird for your commercial venture. For chickens, there are hybrid broiler and layer strains, slow-growing-colored birds (improved ‘Kienyeji’) and indigenous heritage breeds. Hybrid broiler breeds are more preferred in urban cities while indigenous breeds are profitable in low-income populations. Go for a breed with predictable performance characteristics avoiding second-generation progeny produced through repeated inbreeding.

  1. Focus on good housing, health, and livability.

The natural choice for consistent poultry performance will be determined by the level of housing protection the units will provide for your birds from the juvenile stage to the end of production. A good housing system is pivotal to good performance. An ideal unit should provide comfortable ventilation, proper temperature regulation, lighting, good litter quality, good stocking densities and freedom to access feed and water. The birds should be adequately immunized and be provided with a good biosecurity program to guard them against wild birds, predators, rodents, and other parasites.

  1. For any poultry producer feed is the biggest single cost. Manage it.

Choose diets that are appropriate to the breed and species of bird and the stage of growth or production. As a farmer, strive to drive a least-cost solution. This essentially means that you go for a feed that can meet a specific nutrient specification within set raw material constraints. Aim for a ‘Least’ cost as opposed to a ‘Low’ cost feed. We measure feed utilization by feed conversion efficiencies. Feeds low in energy, protein, essential amino acids and or minerals will only lead to growth and production problems, wet litter and dirty eggs, skeletal disorders, poor growth, eggshell defects, low egg production and in extreme cases deaths due to mycotoxins. Ensure you provide clean, fresh potable water all the time. Provide one bell drinker to 50 chicks and ensure the drinker height is at the same level as the back of the chick, adjust as the birds grow. The water level should be maintained at thumbnail depth all the time. To ensure water quality is maintained, always treat with chlorine tablets, and remember to flush your water lines once per month using hydrogen peroxide to remove any biofilms.

  1. Marketing

To make it successful, you will need more than ever to build resources and tools to help you explore, penetrate, and deliver your product into this dynamic and volatile market. Your overall goal is to gain a competitive advantage by understanding the needs and wants of your customers wherever they are. Things like digital platforms, WhatsApp, Facebook, twitter, and posters will help you access hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, fast food eateries in marketing your products.

[For more information contact through watsonmesso@yahoo.com]