The Kiambu County Government last week organized a two-day expo that looked at the benefits, challenges and business solutions for poultry farmers.
The event which took place at the Ndumberi Stadium saw farmers receiving advice from various experts on how to embrace poultry as a business opportunity to supplement their income and boost their economic livelihood.
David Wamwea, Kiambu County Executive Director of Trade, Industrialization, Tourism, Investment and Cooperative Development, said poultry already provides more than 1,500 employment opportunities to Kiambu residents, although this is not enough considering that a large percentage of the youth are unemployed and without income.
“I want to encourage the youth to take up poultry farming as a hobby because it can earn them decent money as it is considered as one of the most promising agri-food sectors that promotes sustainable growth and contributes to poverty reduction,” he added.
Wamwea noted that Kiambu is ranked eighth (8) in terms of egg supply in the country and the position can further improve if the Kiambu Farmers Co-operative continues to assist especially the youth to venture into business and ensure that the upward trend egg and meat production.
The company provides loans at a low interest rate of 7 percent, enabling more people to get into poultry farming. “A farmer raising 1,500 chickens can earn about Sh3,000 per day and Sh50,000 per month as net wages,” the CEC said.
In addition to egg and meat production, poultry products have other benefits and are also helpful in the preparation of vaccines, provide organic fertilizers to farmers, make feather pillows, cushions and mattresses. As a result, the business has little or no waste and is therefore economical.
Despite the profit margin and job creation that can come in the industry, experts warn that poultry farming is also riddled with several problems, including high feed costs, maintenance and disease.
Chicken nose mash and grower mash are quite expensive and affect the overall cost of poultry farming. Currently, a bag of grower mash goes for Sh1,800 and a bag of mash layers goes for Sh1,950.
Wamwea advised farmers to venture into the production of their own poultry feed, saying it would reduce production costs and thereby maximize profits.
“Poultry feed can be made from whole corn meal, corn bran and soybeans. Making fodder is easy and all you have to do is mix the ingredients with a shovel or stick,” he said, adding that the government has given local fodder manufacturers a tax break in an effort to reduce the price and also help farmers.
Overall, Wamwea said farmers should start giving their birds the necessary treatment as well as giving them vitamins to get good products ready for the market. Poultry farming, if done right, will help farmers cushion the growing economy and is therefore worth getting into.
Dr Fred Otieno of Atlantis life science, which is involved in the manufacture and distribution of veterinary products, urged farmers to have access to a wide range of medicines including vaccines and antibiotics that can protect their poultry from diseases.
“Some of the medicines available in Kiambu are Biosec, solvita, vigorex, vitacom, vigoboost layer and Vigoboost broilers,” he said giving the example of some medicines like Biosec which contain an ingredient known as selenium which is responsible for the immunity of the chicken body.
He further said that Atlantic life science has come up with two antibacterial substances, Abidoxyl and Doxycycline, which work against bacteria that cause respiratory infections and diarrhea in birds, for example.
Otieno noted that the overall maintenance of chickens, which is one of the major problems affecting farmers, should be easily addressed by cleaning and disinfecting the cages once a week to promote a healthy environment and thereby minimize the risk of disease.
Maryanne Mwende, one of the poultry farmers who attended the exhibition, told KNA that she really learned a lot from the exhibition and called on the county government to introduce and conduct more such exhibitions so that farmers can participate and learn.
“I have learned a lot and will ensure that I make the necessary changes in chicken farming so that I can get quality products and make more money,” she said.
In terms of poultry population, Kikuyu Division in Kiambu County leads in both total poultry population and laying hen production.
The current poultry raised in Kenya is not enough to sustain the ever increasing demand for poultry products in Kenya. Poultry has also become a lucrative business in Kenya.