After scoring an A-plain in Agriculture at Lubinu Boys High School seven years ago, Hesbon Andika, now 25, wanted to pursue agriculture to fulfill his dream of becoming a renown agriculturalist.
His parents and teachers, pressured him to take a teaching course at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Mmust). According to his parents, securing a job after attaining a degree in agriculture would be an uphill task.
“I joined the university and in 2016, I graduated as a teacher of Kiswahili and Religion and was employed at several local secondary schools thereafter. On average, I earned Sh8,000, sometimes I got nothing,” says Andika. In June 2017, he was employed as a teacher at Esokone Secondary School and was being paid by the County Government of Kakamega Sh10,000 a month.
For 10 months, he saved Sh80,000. In that period, he underwent a two-day mentorship programme on better poultry farming practices at his friend’s farm before trying his luck in the venture.
He used the money to buy birds from his friend who mentored him into the venture and 94 iron sheets for erecting a poultry house.
“In April last year, I bought 27 improved Kienyeji chicken that were three months old at a cost of Sh550 each totaling Sh14,850.” But two months later only 15 were left after his parents slaughtered most for visitors with some dying. That was when he decided to change strategy.
“I bought 500 day-old improved Kienyeji chicks from Kampala, Uganda at Sh100 each. When the chicks were seven days old, I administered the Newcastle vaccine and after a week Gumboro vaccine. After 14 days, I re-administered the Newcastle vaccine and at three weeks, I vaccinated them against bronchitis,” said Mr Andika.
All this time, he was feeding the birds with chick mash until they were 8 weeks old when he changed to growers for another 12 months until the hens hatched their first eggs, when he started feeding them on layers mash.
“By November last year, I was collecting between 400 and 450 already fertilised eggs and selling each egg at Sh20. By the end of last year, I had saved at least Sh250,000 from eggs only,” said Andika.
Demand for indigenous breed
By January this year, he had restocked 1,500 birds with around 400 of them being indigenous breeds. He stocked indigenous breeds after his customers demanded for them. “Demand for Kienyeji meat is high and I get orders from all over Western region and leading hotels. I am now hatching my own chicks and selling them when they are a day old and one month old at Sh100 and Sh250 respectively,” said Mr Andika.
“During the Christmas festivities, we made good money from poultry business. During Easter holidays, we sold birds to a tune of Sh180,000.”
At 6.30am, Andika feeds his birds on Kienyeji mash. At 9.00am, he gives them ugali, at 11.00am they eat Amaranth or Sukuma wiki. At 2.00pm they eat whole grains like maize and at 5.00pm, he gives the birds pumpkin leaves and seeds or ripe paw paw.
Sometimes, he allows the birds to move around the fenced compound to get more nutrients since he is practising a semi-intensive system of farming.
Pumpkin seeds and ripe paw paw are rich in vitamins and moreso, paw paw is a remedy for coccidiosis (loss of appetite) among the birds.
Andika says he sees no need to waste time in the teaching profession anymore. His focus is on poultry farming.
“I don’t want to go back into employment again or to class. Imagine, in four months, I have made a profit of Sh600,000 but as a teacher, I will have made much less.”