Diary of a Poultry Farmer: How to draft workable operational plan

Friday February 10 2017

Joseph Ndung'u with is poultry in his farm in Site, Nyandarua.

Joseph Ndung'u with is poultry in his farm in Site, Nyandarua. He sells his chicken in Ol-Kalou. If you have problems developing a business plan, form a group with like-minded people to help generate better ideas and synergy. PHOTO | JOHN GITHINJI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SUBIRI OBWOGO
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In this second instalment on writing a poultry business plan, I will discuss how I went about developing an operational plan.

Here, I mean the day-to-day running of a poultry business including what gets done, how it’s done, who does it and when from a purely business perspective.

Last week, the things I discussed were ticked in the business plan outline, including housing, disease control and vaccination and bio-security measures that need to go into your strategy.

An operational plan outlines things like means of production, marketing strategy, financial skills, human resources capacity and management acumen.

To kick off, I will go back to readers’ feedback. I often get this question, “Advise on how much it would cost to rear 100 chickens.” My standard answer is always, “It depends on the scale — small, medium or large — and type of production (free-range, semi-intensive or intensive system).”

Now, the scale of production ranges from small (less than 1,000 birds), medium (1,000–5,000) and large-scale (above 5,000 birds).

If I am reading your business plan, I need to know the scale and type of production to determine the level of capital investment needed. Another thing is profitability — the more birds I rear, the more likely I am to make profit because of economies of scale (Seeds of Gold, October 15, 2016).

As an investor, I would be interested in your understanding of the target market.

TARGET MARKET

In my case, my target market is what determined the choice of chicken breed I keep because I learnt much earlier that customers prefer poultry products with certain attributes like tasty meat and yellow-yolk eggs that are only found in dual-purpose indigenous breeds (Seeds of Gold, December 25, 2016) raised under semi-intensive or free-range systems.

Of course, if you are targeting fast food joints and bakeries, then go for exotic birds.

To be fair, marketing is such a wide and complex subject. I have struggled to come up with a viable marketing strategy and I can’t even say I am done yet.

I have also read books and talked to the experts in the field. What I have come to learn is that ‘sales’ is about getting rid of your product like I did over Christmas festivities while ‘marketing’ is about ‘making the customer happy and satisfied”.

The bottom line is during Christmas I was preoccupied persuading customers to buy my eggs and chicken meat.

Instead, what one marketing guru told me to my face was this, “What you should be selling is the solution to a problem you think your customers are facing, not the product.”

He added that if I did that, the product would sell itself.

I dismissed his idea as academic for arm-chair marketers living in ivory towers but after much reflection and talking to consumers, I have come to learn that because the local poultry industry is poorly regulated, consumers are concerned about the quality of the poultry products in the market.

Now, if you are a small-scale farmer like me, who relies on one worker to run the enterprise, then your human resources plan is very simple.

WORK WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE

But as I plan to grow, I am looking at skills and experience of new hires because I can’t continue relying on on-job training.

I am also looking at titles, salaries and benefits for workers, including contracts for part-time hires.

My management plan is also work in progress. Of course, it highlights my years of experience in rearing poultry and the external experts like vet surgeons and agronomists that often come in handy.

I can’t say for sure that I have adequate internal expertise to manage a large-scale poultry enterprise for now.

If you find the bit about financial plans confusing, rest assure you are not alone.

I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around balance sheets and cash flow projections for my poultry business.

My guess is this is one area I will need the help of a professional.

For now, one thing is clear in my mind. I want to grow my business from a micro “survivalist” venture into a small or medium-sized enterprise and I can’t do that without a well thought out business plan.

Another thing is if you are having problem developing a business plan, form a group and you will be surprised how working with other like-minded people can generate better ideas and synergy.

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Your Questions Answered

Barnabas Wang’ang’a: I really appreciate what you are doing to the agriculture sector. Please share a soft copy of the poultry business plan outline.

Thank you and send me an email for a soft copy.

Njoroge Kamau, Kwale County: I would like to know how many grams of feeds should I give my Kienyeji chickens per day.

A chick requires a minimum of 60g per day.

Young chickens or pullets, which are about to start laying should be fed 60g for 2.5 months and then put on layers mash (140g per day).

Broiler chicks require 67g per day while brolier finishers require 67g of feed per day to the day of slaughter.

Hamuel Kiarii: I am looking for a machine to use to make pellets from broiler starter and finisher mash.

Please advertise in Seeds of Gold.

Andrew Gakiria: I am an avid reader of your column. When is the next class on poultry feed formulation?

Saturday, February 25 and March 4, 2017. Please send me an email to book.

George Onyango, Siaya: Please share a handout on feeding, vaccination schedule and housing plans.

Please send me an email for a free copy.

Charles Muchira: I have gained a lot of knowledge from your articles.

Thank you and keep reading.