Dressed in a dark blue overcoat, beige trouser and gumboots, Peter Kunyonya walks from one poultry house to another inspecting his ornamental birds.
The farmer based in Utawala, Nairobi, has put several poultry houses, which he has further portioned into cubicles to house various birds, both domestic and wild that include crested cranes, parrots and peacocks.
“Unlike chicken farming where you need to have hundreds of them to break even, with ornamental birds, things are different.
Two or three are enough to give you return on investment,” he offers.
According to him, the wild ornamental birds do not need regular vaccination and consume the same feeds chickens do, making them more profitable.
Besides, the birds do not require a huge space for rearing. The farmer owns 30m by 60m plot, which doubles as his home and farm.
He has subdivided the plot using wooden rails to create room for storeyed poultry cages, dairy goat pens and a tiny kiosk, annexed from a room from his house, where he retails goat milk.
“I have 160 birds in total. Besides the cranes, parrots and peacocks, I also keep Egyptian geese, royal pan turkey, white turkey, fantail pigeon, Sinnamon-tail pigeon, silkish bantam chicken, Americana hens, budgies and spa fowl.”
He sells a parrot at Sh6,000 for a pair and a mature crested crane goes at Sh60,000.
Turkey, on the other hand, goes for Sh6,000 each, four-month old crane birds at Sh45,000 and a duck at Sh1,500.
NEEDS A PERMIT
“The parrots feed on sunflower seeds while the remaining birds on the usual poultry feeds that include the mashes and chicken waste.”
To keep the birds, one needs a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), which costs Sh1,500 and is renewed annually.
“During the payment, you have to indicate whether you still have the bird or it died or sold to whom. And when selling, you need a copy of a licence of the buyer,” explains Kunyonya.
Before he switched to the business in 2012, Kunyonya had a life as a Kienyeji chicken farmer, keeping 300 birds.
“I reared Kienyeji birds from 2010 to 2012, but found productivity low yet they consumed a lot of feeds. One day I visited a friend in Ngong and realised that ducks and turkeys fetch more money.
A turkey’s egg cost Sh150 and a day old turkey chick at Sh500, which is incomparable to the Sh20 for a chicken egg and Sh100 for a chick.”
The father of two also rears 26 dairy goats, 10 of which are lactating and offer him 30 litres of milk a day.
“Ornamental birds are quite expensive, so you cannot sell them every day. I, therefore, chose to incorporate goats on my farm so that I can get some milk to keep me a float when there is no market for the birds and to supplement my income. I consume the milk and also sell it for Sh100 a litre,” says Kunyonya.
ACQUIRED FROM CREDIBLE SOURCES
Dominic Kimani, a research fellow and ornithologist from the Zoology Department at the National Museums of Kenya, says that the wild birds to be domesticated must be acquired from credible sources especially from approved farmers who have KWS licence.
Farmers interested in rearing wild birds such as guinea fowl, cranes and peacocks should send application to the KWS through respective area warden. The application should be supported by a management or a business plan.
“There are instances where KWS allows collection from wild sources. This should be done with their approval.
The criteria for selecting species for farming include ease of capture, adaptability to domestic conditions, and ability to produce marketable meat and/or other desired products within reasonable time.”