Cutting down production cost for poultry farmers

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Poultry farming is a lucrative investment anyone could venture into. A good number of people have tried poultry as a business and it has worked. A relatively good number of people have also tried and failed in this business. Their failure has often been attributed to lack of proper planning and lack of experience.

Poultry farming can bring about huge profits if well executed; the venture can as well bring partial or total losses if badly executed. In Kenya, farmers, from time to time have complained of losses arising from overpriced commercial feeds. Poultry farmers claim to be making good profits from their businesses which are in turn chewed by commercial feed companies through overpricing.

The cost of layers mash in Kenya for instance is Ksh2450 for a 50kg bag. One bag of layers mash can feed 200 chickens for just a day. A farmer will therefore need at least Ksh2600 daily in order to feed 200 chicken. This is too expensive for any young farmer to manage. Now with the overpriced commercial feeds, does it mean young farmers should avoid venturing into poultry farming?

Well, I am a young farmer currently doing three hundred (300) improved kienyeji chicken in my small farm (Getembe Poultry). All the 300 chicken are three months old and they haven’t started laying. This means all their feeding depends on my pocket, bearing in mind that I am just a student, unemployed and with no source of constant monthly income. So how have I managed to bring up my birds up to three months without complaining about the overpriced commercial feeds and not giving up on them?

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Before I ventured into poultry business, I carried out some research and noticed that a plan was very essential. I wrote my plan indicating what I had and what I wanted. I clearly stated the basic requirements giving priority to what I thought I wanted the most. That is how I ended up buying my 528 eggs incubator, a poultry feeds grinding machine and eggs for incubation. I didn’t have problems with a poultry house since I had constructed one previously which I had used to rear chicken that ended up giving me disappointments rather than profit. My investment priorities have since served me right. My flock of 300 chicks has fully depended on income from the incubator and supplements prepared by the feed grinding machine.

Alternatives and supplements for commercial poultry feeds.

I am one of the farmers who strongly believe that the prices for commercial feeds in Kenya have been inflated and that the farmer is he who will suffer if they do not find alternatives or supplements that can cut down the expenses. Bringing up the 300 three months chicken has helped me learn a lot on alternatives and supplements for the poultry feeds. Some of the supplements I have successfully used include;

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Hydroponics/hydroponic fodder

Hydroponics is simply the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in the soil (Oxford, 1937). I have grown wheat (hydroponic fodder) several times at the farm using just the seeds and water. The wheat grows and is ready for consumption by chicken after 4-5 days.

How do you prepare/grow the hydroponic fodder/procedure

Get your wheat seeds and soak them in water for two hours.

Remove the seeds from water and place them in a bucket.

Leave them to germinate in the bucket for one to two days.

Spread the seeds in you crates.

Water them daily for four days, until they are ready for consumption.

Note that your crates must have drainage holes so that water does not stagnate during watering which may lead to the seeds going bad.I have been using wheat for hydroponic fodder and a protein supplement for my chicken and it has served me really well.

Feed grinding and mixing

With my small feed grinding machine, I have been able to buy some raw materials like whole maize, lime, wheat bran and many other basic ingredients which I mix on my own to supplement my commercial feeds. This has proven to be effective.

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If a farmer has the ability to acquire all the basic feed ingredients, then he/she should run as fast as possible to produce their own feeds which could be quite cheaper compared to commercial feeds.

Free ranging

Apart from the 300 chicken flock, I have a separate 30 chicken that I free range. The secret to this is that you just feed the chicken with your feeds in the morning then let them look for food on their own in the afternoon.Free ranging can save a farmer the commercial feeds burden.

If we improvise alternatives and supplements for commercial feeds successfully, poultry farming will be the most profitable business in Kenya. Farmers and anyone willing to venture into poultry farming should think through alternatives as they dig deep into the venture.