The brick house, measuring 30m by 10m catches every visitors’ attention when they step into Wycliffe Mwangale’s farm in Trans Nzoia County.
If the building was the farmer’s house, perhaps it would be a four-bedroom bungalow.
But this is his chicken house, where he keeps more than 4,500 Kienyeji chickens at various stages of growth. Some 1,500 are currently laying eggs while the rest are for slaughter.
Seeds of Gold team finds Mwangale, a former veterinary officer, busy working on the computer trying to balance ingredients he uses to make poultry feeds.
“You must get it right lest you end up with unbalanced feeds that would not support your production needs,” says Mwangale, who uses a software to do the work.
The farmer has established a thriving chicken enterprise on his eight acres, having started small.
“I started with only 40 chicken in 2001 that I actually bought from the market,” says the 45-year-old father of six.
“It was a small beginning but I had a dream to turn it into a huge investment. The 40 chickens multiplied as we kept on brooding them and soon, I had 400 birds and I have grown the business since then.”
Inside the brick house, Mwangale has divided the structure into sections, where the birds are kept according to their stages of growth or purpose they are kept.
The categories include broilers, layers 16 weeks, 12 weeks, nine weeks and one week.
The farmer discloses that he commercialised the business by shifting to improved Kari Kienyeji chicken and bought two incubators with a capacity to hatch 18,000 eggs, 9,000 each.
He keeps the birds for eggs and meat that he sells in the local market, making him one of the leading suppliers of poultry products in western and Nyanza.
VACCINATE THE BIRDS
The farm supplies eggs to stand alone hatcheries, chicks to starter farmers, meat to the market, feeds and eggs.
“Poultry business has some risks but with proper management and foresight, all goes well,” says the former vet consultant, who quit to become a farmer, adding that he vaccinates the birds against diseases like Newcastle, Infectious bursal disease (gumboro) and fowl pox.
He sells the chickens for meat at 16 weeks at Sh700, having spent between Sh480-Sh550 to raise them. He further sells fertilised eggs at Sh30 each and chicks at Sh110.
Many people are getting into chicken farming, keeping Kienyeji birds in particular, but fail to adhere to expected practices thus finding the going rough, according to him.
“These birds consume plenty of feeds and take time before reaching the market weight unlike broilers. This translates into more expenses, which makes people give up,” he says.
Quality feeds, according to him, has made his business succeed. He uses an American software to mix the feeds. “The software gives you an analysis of how to mix the feed ingredients and in what quantities,” he offers.
Using it, he formulates feed for all his birds and for sale at all stages, from chicks to finisher.
“We give broilers very high proteins to put on weight so that they can reach the market-weight faster. For those laying, we give them feeds with less energy, protein content of 15-16 per cent for their maintenance and because they are producing eggs, we normally give them calcium of about 3.7 per cent because to produce good eggs, the birds need the mineral,” explains Mwangale, who trades under the name Breedtech Limited Farm.
TO MINIMISE MORTALITY RATES
Some of the ingredients he uses are whole maize, soya bean, bone meal and wheat pollard. He makes the feeds for his chickens and sales to other farmers.
Mwangale, who sells the poultry feeds he makes from Sh2,200 to Sh2,400 per 50kg bag, has 17 employees who help him run the farm.
But he says the number will rise as he works on expanding the venture.
Mwangale, who says Ugandan imports have not disrupted his market, offers that returns from Kienyeji chicken farming are high if one does everything right.
“Demand for day-old chicks is high that initially I was struggling to meet. But people are now moving away from day-old chicks because of their huge demands, especially the supplemental heat with raises expenses.”
He advises the government and any other organisation that intends to empower communities through chicken rearing projects to give groups chicks that are at least two weeks old to minimise mortality rates and teach them proper record-keeping and proper feeding, which is costly.
“These groups should also be trained on management of diseases to help in sustaining the project.”
Trans Nzoia county director of livestock production Harrison Were says when setting up a poultry unit, one should position it in the east-west direction so that the structure does not directly face the sun.
“The basic things one should do is maintain high standards of hygiene, the structure should have good ventilation and minimise stress to the birds. Routine vaccination is also important to maintain good health of the birds,” he offers.
Don’ts in poultry agribusiness
- Don’t try to overstock, maintain the stock that you can manage.
- Lack of vaccination programme may lead to losses.
- Don’t keep changing from one type of feed to another as this will affect productivity.
- Don’t allow everybody to enter into the poultry unit since a person may carry germs that can infect the chicken with diseases.
- Good starting point in poultry is with chicks, taking them through the vaccination process as they pass through the various stages of growth.