When Smart Harvest visits this farm, casuals in green aprons and gloves are busy sorting out chicken droppings.
We are at Irungu Gatune’s farm in Kiamunyi, outskirts of Nakuru, where the farmer makes cash from smelly chicken droppings.
Here, the droppings are not considered waste, but are used to make animal feeds for sale and manure for crops.
The 47-year-old farmer who resigned from his teaching profession two years ago rears 5,000 layers.
“Nothing on my chicken farm goes to waste. This is highly valuable raw material for making animal feeds and manure,” says Gatune.
The preparation of the droppings into animal feeds and manure, is a meticulous process. First, the droppings are collected from the chicken house, then they are neatly spread inside a greenhouse adjacent to the chicken production area where it is dried for between three to five days depending on the weather, Gatune tells us.
He says the greenhouse is preferred to keep off bacteria and impurities from the droppings during value addition and maintain moisture content.
“The greenhouse is hot and this accelerates the drying process of the waste,” he explains.
After drying, the droppings are moved to a sieving room in another greenhouse where it is kept for at least two days to further monitor its dryness.
When that is done, it is placed on a sieve and crushed manually by the labourers. Impurities from the sieving room is collected as manure and sold to crop farmers.
The refined droppings are then collected and packed in sacks of 90 kilos each ready for the market. Gatune produces half a tonne of chicken waste daily. A 90-kilo bag of the waste is sold at Sh500 within Nakuru town and its environs. And it is on high demand.
Githinji Njau, is one of the dairy farmers from Kiamunyi estate who has been buying the waste for the past two years for his cows. The farmer says he mixes the waste with high quality starter and hay.
“I buy the waste to supplement my feeds that I give to my cows,” he says.
Njau prefers Gatunes’s animal feeds as opposed to what is sold in the market because it is adulterated and expensive.
Drying is critical
“Feeds are very expensive. This is why I prefer to buy chicken waste to supplement my own animal meals,” says Njau.
But where did Gatune learn this unique trick?
“I got this knowledge on value addition on chicken dropping from successful dairy farmers and various feed making training I have attended. I also research a lot online.”
Before he ventured into value addition of chicken droppings, Gatune used to give it freely to neighbours, who would use it for crop production. With time, they noticed its value, and kept coming back for more.
“I never knew chicken waste could earn me good cash, I used to give it freely, but now I know better,” he says.
He says he mixes the finer crashed waste with dairy meals that contain high nutritional value for his dairy cows, goats and sheep.
Dairy cows on the farm are fed on chicken waste twice a day, failure to which, they record a drop of milk by two litres. It also helps in digestion.
“Chicken waste increases quantity of milk and improves the animals’ skin.”
Although he has broken even, there is more that needs to be done to address the issue of commercial animal feeds.
For quality feeds in the market, he says the Government should step in and regulate sale of feeds and sample those sold in the market.