Tue. Sep 22nd, 2020

Supporting Farmers

Ideal temperature for rearing chicken

6 min read

One needs to study the reasons for seasonal variations in market prices of raw materials especially maize to better understand the economies of scale, when venturing into own feed production.

One needs to study the reasons for seasonal variations in market prices of raw materials especially maize to better understand the economies of scale, when venturing into own feed production. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NMG

In Summary

  • When it gets too cold, the chickens tend to eat more to meet their maintenance energy needs.
  • Hybrid strains such as the Hyline contain the Leghorn blood and can be obtained from the Kenbrid Ltd, Naivasha.
  • Starting any agribusiness such as poultry keeping is a journey, not a sprint and if your goal is to make money quickly, you’re sure to burn-out in a few weeks or months.
  • Besides rearing chicken for meat and eggs, consider the following investments areas: hatching chicks for sale, selling feeds, skills transfer, selling poultry equipment, among others.
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By SUBIRI OBWOGO
This week, I answer your most burning questions. First, Florence has five more years in formal employment before she retires and has bought four acres on which she plans to rear poultry. Where does she start?
Morris is sitting on three acres of prime land but he thinks it’s too cold to rear chickens. Anthony wants to know what it takes to produce and sell animal feeds.
Philip is keen on commercial egg production and fostering entrepreneurial skills.
My family and I are sitting on three acres in Lari that we feel is underutilised. We plan to rear Kienyeji chickens but my main concern is that it gets very cold here.
Morris Kuri
The ideal temperature for chickens reared for egg production is between 21 to 25°C. I’m not sure how low or high temperatures fall or rise in Lari but if the room temperature rises above 25°C for long, it affects growth rate, number of eggs laid, egg weight and egg shell quality.
When it gets too cold, the chickens tend to eat more to meet their maintenance energy needs.
Whatever the case, a good house design should provide the birds with a comfortable environment and protect them from weather extremities like cold, rain, wind or sunshine.
You may supplement heat when it gets very cold especially between June and September. In a nutshell, go for it.
***
I’m keen on commercial egg production to support some needy children with school fees and to teach them some basic entrepreneurial skills as written in the book of Proverbs 22:6.
I read in one of your articles that the Leghorn breed of chicken is good for egg laying over a period of a year. Is this the case? Where can I buy the chicks?
Philip Ouma Polo, Africa Nazarene University
The Leghorn breed is a prolific egg layer that rarely goes broody and reaches maturity early. As such, it is commonly used in the development of hybrid birds (commercial strains).
The hatcheries in Kenya obtain the parent stock of the commercial strains from international breeding companies to produce day-old chicks for supply to farmers.
Hybrid strains such as the Hyline contain the Leghorn blood and can be obtained from the Kenbrid Ltd, Naivasha. You may also consider the Issa Brown breed from Kenchic Ltd.
***
Have you ever considered making chicken feeds on a commercial basis for sell to other farmers? Second, what advice would you give anyone intending to manufacture feeds?
Anthony Aura
First, you need to understand the science and art of making animal feeds (Seeds of Gold, January 27, February 10, 17, 24, and March 13).
Second, you need to study the reasons for seasonal variations in market prices of raw materials especially maize to better understand the economies of scale.
Third, most feedstuffs of plant and animal origin such as soya bean meal, maize germ, wheat bran, sunflower cake and fishmeal first undergo processing before they’re used in feeds.
These feedstuffs are mostly associated with milling, edible oil and meat industry. As such, it adds value to create strong networks with these sectors either by buying directly from farmers or millers, or importing yourself.
Fourth, animal feeds are bulky and most retailers may be reluctant to stock a new product unless they’re sure it will move fast. As such, you might consider selling directly to farmers in the beginning.
Last, you need an internal quality control system to ensure the feeds are of optimum quality. In the last three years, I’ve been studying these parameters and in the near future you’ll see my feeds on the shelves.
***
I’ve four acres, which I’d like to use for poultry business to boost my superannuation fund post-retirement in five-years’ time.  I plan to rear Kienyeji chickens and guinea fowls. Currently, I’ve four guinea fowls and about 50 Kienyeji chickens. 
Florence Irako, Solai, Nakuru County
Starting any agribusiness such as poultry keeping is a journey, not a sprint and if your goal is to make money quickly, you’re sure to burn-out in a few weeks or months.
Second, your timing is right since you have five years to your retirement and land. Besides capital and basic knowledge in poultry husbandry, to succeed in any agribusiness venture, you also need a business mind-set and entrepreneurial knowledge and skills.
My experience in the last three years is that many people get into farming with unrealistic expectations and end up disappointed.
Another lesson is that entrepreneurship is a way of life and, as such, don’t start a business if it entails doing something you don’t enjoy.
Besides rearing chicken for meat and eggs, consider the following investments areas: hatching chicks for sale, selling feeds, skills transfer, selling poultry equipment, among others.
Please refer to my article titled 11 things starters in poultry business ought to know available online.

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