Dear Dr Messo
My name is Ali Hamid from Mombasa. I have been doing research on how to expand and grow my small scale kienyeji chicken farm into a commercial enterprise. Kindly guide me on how to go about it.
Ali Hamid Omar
Thank you for bringing this up. Kienyeji chicken farming can be a well-paying venture if done right as almost every one is now looking into clean eating.
Majority of Kienyeji poultry farmers practice what is called free range system, where there is absolutely minimal interventions in terms of farm house, human resource, equipment, vaccination, treatments etc. However, the free-range system has one major constraint; you cannot keep large number of birds to mature to market size, and they will often die of disease, starvation, prey to cats, dogs and wildlife, and even lose them to theft.
To commercialise this form of business, these are the five most important things to do.
1. Business planning
This is the most critical aspect of farming that you need to go through again if you have not done so. It must be crystal clear from the beginning what kind of product you want to sell. Most people rear traditional chicken which takes eight to 10 months to mature to 1.6kg live weight. This prolonged period will impact negatively on your turn-around period to constantly supply your customers. Scout for improved breeds in the market, such as Kenbro, Kuroiler and Kari, ask seek expert advice on the best breed, which is tastier, hardy and has relatively better growth rates.
Is your existing house structure able to accommodate 50-100 birds? Do you have enough equipment for rearing your birds to points of production? Do you have enough capital to venture into this business of your choice? The moment you decide to rear your birds in enclosure, in restricted quarters, the immediate challenge that comes with this decision is the ability to buy and sustain steady supply of feeds and clean portable water. This is the time to visit poultry experts on one to one discussion on the derived benefits of choosing a good breed, good chick quality, good vaccination programme, good animal husbandry practices and most ideal equipment.
3. Good poultry husbandry practices
When it comes to commercial farming, there are no shortcuts, every detail counts, and level of commitment must be commensurate to the expected benefits. This starts with sound Bio-security practices, selection of improved kienyeji breed suitable to your market, trusted chick supplier, good brooding principles, adequate feeding and water provision, prudent vaccination schedule and all the necessary processes that you must follow to ensure the following are achieved, low mortality, rapid weight gain, sweet and tasty meat or eggs, efficient feed utilisation and acceptable bird welfare. Keep records of your expenses and sales and learn basic profit and loss accounts to truck your financial performance.
Marketing is the driving force of any business. Start with your friends, friends to your friends, neighbours and others, advertise your products by word of mouth, leaflets, posters, local radio stations, fliers etc. Visit eateries, clubs, joints, hotels, schools, wedding parties and sell your products. Strive to know your customers by name, location and telephone numbers.
5. Value addition
Try to add value to your products. If it is meat, have it inspected by registered meat inspectors, keep it halal, do cut-ups (breasts, thighs, legs, wings, necks, backs etc) and pack them hygienically before you present to the consumers.