Poultry keeping hatches wealth for Kisumu farmer

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Farmer Nicholas Omondi tends to mature birds at his Dunga Beach poultry farm.

Nicholas Omondi is among the few farmers in Kisumu county who have discovered the hidden treasure in farming.

The farmer is practicing poultry keeping on the shores of Lake Victoria, a venture which has resulted in in positive changes in his lifestyle. 

Recently, Agribiz visited his Victoria Eco Farm located at Dunga, about 8km from Kisumu CBD. He narrated how he has weathered the storm to become a successful poultry farmer in Nyanza region.

“My journey goes back nine years when I began rearing a few local birds before going into commercialised farming,”  he says. 

To start off, Omondi  bought 10 of the improved kienyeji chickens for domestic purposes, earning some good returns.

He also picked some basic skills from attending several trainings organised by different non-governmental organisations such as USAid and Plan International. 

Upon testing the viability of the venture  and realising that it was promising, Omondi went into commercial farming in 2010. 

With Sh18,000 as the seed capital, he bought a 60-egg capacity incubator worth Sh15,000 and used the balance to acquire a few Kuroiler birds. 

Despite a few challenges, he never lost focus, but toiled to ensure the agribusiness stayed afloat.

The farmer explains a point at the farm near Kisumu town. 

“The business picked up well and this convinced me my dreams were valid,” he says.

Months later, he expanded the hatchery, which saw the birds multiply. The farmer also diversified to keeping quails, which, after successive sales ended up earning him profits in the range of Sh400,000. 

Using these proceeds in addition to the money realised from the sales of other poultry products, he imported three large automated incubators with a 5,000-egg capacity at Sh150,000 each.

The equipment boosted the poultry business to another level as he was able to set up another poultry farm in Seme constituency.

Today, Omondi is on the verge of joining the league of prosperous poultry farmers in Western Kenya.

His farm hatches and sells chicks at different stages ranging from day-old to one-month-old ones.

“We sell the chicks at prices ranging between Sh90 for a day-old chick and Sh250 for a month old,” says the farmer.

He keeps what he calls improved Kienyeji, Rainbow Rooster and Kuroiler breeds, with a stock of about 2,700 mature birds in the two farms.

The layers supply him with eggs, which he loads into the incubators while broilers are mainly for meat.

 At the farms, a mature hen goes for Sh800 and a cockerel Sh1,500. But I retain all breeding hens,” he says.

To ensure his farm does not run out of fertilised eggs to hatch and that the incubation cycle keeps going, he occasionally purchases eggs from his neighbours. 

He gets orders from outside catering services, local hotels, funeral events, weddings and individuals.

He also commands a wide market niche for his products within the Western Kenya region.

“Business is lucrative since we get many buyers at the farm’s gate seeking to buy chicks, fertilised eggs or even mature birds,” says Omondi.

Besides chicken and quails, Omondi, 37,  also rears other birds such as guinea fowls, geese and turkeys. A mature goose for Sh5,000, guinea fowl at Sh3,000 and turkey at Sh4,500.

Ornamental birds 

In addition, the farmer keeps ornamental birds French Frizzled, Japanese Bantams, Italian Silky and Fantel pigeon.

These rare birds fetch him good cash, with mature bantam and Italian silky chickens selling at as high as Sh13,000 each.

On average, he earns Sh350,000 monthly before paying expenses depending on the season.

He is also contracted by some county governments to train farmers’ groups on poultry keeping, supply them with chicks or fertilised eggs.

Fertilised eggs go for Sh20 each. Once the chickens are mature, he buys them back.

Omondi has employed five assistants in his two farms, whom he supervises.He plans to expand the venture, targeting markets for poultry products in neighbouring counties.

“A wise farmer must be present to routinely check for himself what is going on and to give direction on complex activities,” he advises.

He urges local farmers to embrace modern technology in bid to scale-up production.

Further, he advises poultry farmers to pay close attention to matters of hygiene by ensuring regular vaccination of the birds to avoid rapid disease breakouts.

Data from the county’s Agriculture department shows that commercial poultry farming has a huge potential, with about 5,000 farmers engaged in serious poultry business while remaining households rear indigenous birds for subsistence. 

Most of the commercial farmers in the county keep between 50 to 100 birds. The county produces 1,000 tonnes of poultry meat annually, musch lower than demand.

County Director of Livestock Production, John Likoko, says there is need to maximise commercial poultry ventures.

“The county supplies 30 per cent of the poultry products out of its total requirement against the high demand occasioned by rise in population,” he says.

He cites high mortalities from poultry diseases, fluctuating feed quality, poor credit access and inability to access quality chicks by farmers as main challenges. There are also inadequate extension officers and predators for chicken. 

The government has been promoting commercialised poultry keeping,  capacity building for farmers on modern poultry husbandry practices and lobbying for better market access.

“We are trying to improve the market access by encouraging farmers to form groups and also sensitising them on how to reduce costs,” he says.

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