Diary of a poultry farmer: A guide to hatch eggs repeatedly using hen

Friday March 30 2018
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Farmer George Kimani feeds some of his 1000 kienyenji chickens at Site Estate in Ol Kalou, Nyandarua County. For housing layers and kienyeji chickens, aim for two square foot per bird; 30x30cm or 90 square cm per bird floor area. PHOTO | CORRESPONDENT


This week, I tackle your pertinent questions on gaps in field extension services, hatching eggs, rearing turkeys and measurements for a chicken pen.

If you’ve been struggling to get money to buy an incubator for hatching eggs, there’s a table below on how to develop a serial programme for hatching eggs the natural way. Keep reading and asking all those pressing questions.

Lucas Mwagesha, Kwale County:

How can I develop a serial programme for hatching eggs using broody hens?

Identify five hens or ducks that start laying eggs within a span of one month or so and follow the steps highlighted in the table below.

Dan Njenga, Limuru:


As a para-vet with a degree in Animal Sciences from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, I find your insights useful. I want to set up a consultancy firm to offer services to small-scale poultry farmers. What gaps do you see in poultry field extension services?

A good consultancy in any field should focus on solving a problem that the beneficiaries really care about and are willing to pay for the answers.

Although technical aspects of animal husbandry practices like disease control and vaccination, feeding, book keeping or developing business plans are important, they are not the game changer.

From a business perspective, it’s the other external enablers of production such as competition, high cost of inputs, weak networks, ill-defined market outlets, unfavourable government policies, unproductive workforce, lifelong learning and unrelenting fortitude that will help to turn a business idea into profits.

As the Chinese say, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I always advocate for ‘structured networking’ as one strategy to address these external factors that enable smallholder farmers to move their ventures from survivalist entities to thriving small-and-medium-sized-enterprises.

Amos Mutembei:

I’m a Masters student at JKUAT. As part of my thesis, I’ve read a number of articles on challenges facing poultry farmers but none comes close to the one you wrote on My blueprint to reap from poultry in 2018 (Seeds of Gold, January 7). I am planning to start poultry farming. Do you offer training and mentorship?

I offer two types of courses. One on basic concepts for poultry beginners (disease control and vaccination, feeding, care of chicks to maturity and developing business plans, among others) and the other one on poultry feed formulation.

In future, the plan is to set up a learning and mentorship centre that is focused on empowering underemployed and unemployed youth and adults by offering entrepreneurial development and skills training. Kindly send me an email for details.

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Programme for hatching eggs using broody hens. TABLE | COURTESY


I’m interested in measurements of a chicken pen for 100 improved Kienyeji birds. Second, is there any risk of spreading diseases when guard dogs are kept close to chickens? Last, does mixing aloe vera in drinking water increase egg production and quality of chicken meat?

First, for layers and Kienyeji chickens, aim for two square foot per bird (30x30cm or 90 square cm per bird floor area).

A coop measuring 90x90cm, thus, houses a maximum of nine chickens.  For broiler chickens, aim for one square foot per bird.

Second, the only risk I’ve encountered with dogs is fleas if you don’t clean the dogs every week. Last, I don’t have much experience with Aloe vera but claims about benefits of any herbal remedies need to be tested and verified using scientific methods.

James Obiero, Mombasa County:

I want to rear turkeys. Advise on sourcing chicks, vaccination, feeding regimen, marketing and climatic requirements. 
I shared this information in two articles titled Queries on feeds, diseases answered (Seeds of Gold, March 3, 2018) and What I’ve learnt on keeping turkeys (Seeds of Gold, February 20, 2016) both available online.

Anthony Kariuki: I am researching on the differences between improved Kienyeji breeds such as Kari Improved Kienyeji, Kurolier and Kenbro. Please shed some light on their egg production, growth rate and weight gain.

Please refer to my article on Telling apart the five ‘Kienyeji’ chickens available on line.