Obstacles that almost sank a poultry dream

Harun Owuor, a poultry farmer in Got Agulu village, Siaya County. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard].

After seeing the success of other agriprenuers, one may assume that farming is a walk in the park. But farming has a lot of sweat, blood and tears and one Harun Owuor, a poultry farmer from Got Agulu village, Siaya County, knows this too well.

But before a farmer starts reaping the benefits, they go through numerous challenges Owuor says.

“I started rearing poultry in 2019 after visiting a friend’s farm. I got interested and started with a lot of excitement, but the journey has been sobering,” says Owuor.

Calm before storm

To start off, he bought 500 day-old chicks. He used Sh500,000 as startup capital. It was all smooth then the storm set in. After 14 weeks into the venture, he was hit by poultry diseases, poor feeds in the market and death of the birds. He lost more than 100 birds in a month due to stampede in what he blamed on the open-range system. At some point he was so discouraged, he almost quit.

“I wanted to sell the remaining birds due to the challenges that I was facing. At one time, the laying dropped from 50 per cent to 30 per cent as a result of poor quality feeds,” he explains.

Never say die

But he hung on and is now reaping sweet rewards. Now he has more 1,000 layers and gets 10 crates in a day that he sells at Sh300 each. Clucking sounds welcome Smart Harvest team into Owuor’s farm. For Owuor, a disease epidemiologist, the start-up challenges were a wake-up call for him. He sought the services of veterinarians who advised him to try cage system.

“Since I changed to cage system, I have not experienced any cases of deaths related to stampede in my farm,” he explains.

Eric Sumba, a poultry expert says delaying to feed the birds might cause a stampede.

“If there are not enough feeders and drinkers, birds will scramble for the feeds and water. Some weak ones might be stepped on and die like in the case of Owuor’s farm,” explains Sumba.

He adds that invasion by predators such as rats, mongoose or birds of prey can also cause stampede in the poultry house.

Noise also affects the birds behaviour and lead to low productivity, the expert says.

“Having a mechanical industry close to a poultry farm is not a good idea because whenever the machines are off and then the operator switches it on again, the first sound of the machine will trigger a stampede in the poultry house and may lead to a drop in egg production or an injury,” he warns.

Sumba advises farmers to always ensure they expand their poultry house to accommodate the growing numbers.

 “Stampede causes stunted growth, higher blood pressure, drop in egg, and injury in poultry,” he warns.

Hard work and consistency

Thanks to hard work and consistency, Owuor has increased his numbers to the level of attracting richer markets and bigger orders.

 “At first, my customers were my village mates and extended family but as word went round, the market widened to the point that I started selling outside my village,” says Owuor.

Going forward, he says there is need to have strong cooperatives to help curb the problems of middlemen as well as providing loans to farmers. Running your project from the ground as opposed to telephone farming is also a great strategy for success.

“Poultry keeping require close management so that you can monitor is the birds are getting enough clean water and food. You can also pick signs of disease early enough,” he says.

For those interested in poultry business, Owuor advises them to first conduct thorough market research.

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