Mr Kiragu at his hatchery.

In an area best known for flower farming, this state-of-the-art chicken hatchery comes as a pleasant surprise. Located on a seven-acre farm in the Karati area is a multimillion-shilling poultry investment by veterinarian Tony Kiragu. Nature Kuku Farm specialises in hatching Kalro Kienyenji chicks. The articulate and amiable farmer returned from the United States to set up the hatchery.
He had worked on a poultry farm in America for seven years, having won a Green Card but decided to return to his motherland. “I could no longer contain the urge to come back and follow my dream,” he says.
On his return in 2015, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) had released improved kienyeji chickens, which had become quite popular.
“I had sniffed a business opportunity and went for it,” he recalls. Despite a few hiccups, Nature Kuku was born and sealed with the shipment of the multimillion shilling equipment to the farm.
“Once you vaccinate indigenous chickens and maintain proper hygiene, they do quite well,” he says. Improved kienyeji chickens produce up to 280 eggs annually compared to pure breeds that lay on average 150 eggs.
The improved cockerel weighs about two-2.5kg at four months while the exotic ones weigh about 1.5kg. The farmer purchases 33,000 eggs from Kalro weekly. He decided to partner with Kalro because of its high quality and wellresearched breeding system.
Today, Mr Kiragu guarantees a farmer of an F1 chick, meaning that no inbreeding has occurred, thus maintaining a high quality of chicks.
“Inbreeding causes chicks to grow slowly. It also makes the hens start laying late,” says the farmer. On entering the farm, you instantly get the feeling of its enormity. There are huge setters (incubators) loaded with thousands of eggs, hatchers (cabinet-like incubators for hatching eggs), trolleys loaded with eggs, and a large number of rooms
Everything is done with precision from the time eggs are received to the time the chicks are finally loaded for transportation to farmers. Employees in yellow and white gumboots move fleetingly through the different rooms in the hatchery and in the chicken pens.