Adelina Mwau’s farm in Kalongo village, Makueni County, holds 850 chicken – the improved Kari Kienyeji breed – and has now become a training ground for upcoming farmers who flock the farm every so often to get tips on sound farming practices.
Every day, customers flock her home to buy either eggs or day old chicks for rearing. A day old chick is sold at Sh100 while a month old goes for Sh250. A four month old retails at Sh500 while a grown chicken is sold at Sh1,000.
When she was starting off, Mwau says she had a flock of 100 chicken bought at Sh50,000 from Naivasha.
Months later, she increased the birds to 200 as the business picked up. Slowly the project picked up.
“It is a profitable and fulfilling farming,” she reveals while taking us around the farm, stopping at different points to collect eggs.
The Makueni deputy governor says she is not bogged down by office work because as she puts it, women are good at multitasking.
“I inspect the farm very early in the morning and give instructions here and there to ensure everything runs smoothly. Besides, I have a dedicated team of workers who are passionate about what they do,” says Mwau, whose farm is managed by five farmhands.
Other than layers, she also keeps broilers which she sells for meat to hotels across the county.
“When I see people coming here to buy, it gives me a lot of encouragement to continue,” she offers.
In a good month, Mwau says she can fetch Sh100,000 but on a bad season it drops to Sh60,000.
“Last December we made very good sales because it was a festive season,” she asserts.
In another part of the farm, she has installed three incubators to hatch eggs. The incubators have capacity to hatch around 800 chicks at one go.
The downside, however, is the recurrent power outages which interfere with the process. “Incubators use electricity to hatch but our county has constant power outages. As a farmer, if you don’t have an alternative source of power, it is easy to be driven out of chicken business,” laments Mwau, revealing that as a county government, they are planning to sue Kenya Power for denying such farmers their rights.
“Sometimes we get a power outage lasting six hours, so farmers who rely on electricity lose their products and customers as well. Why does it have to be Makueni?” she poses.
To curb this, Mwau is installing solar power whose design is already complete.
She says the demand for chicken and its products is so overwhelming that she is unable to satisfy the market.
She has a client who has placed an order for 5,000 chicken but she is not able to meet that.
However, it has not been a rosy affair for the farmer who says the birds which are prone to diseases, needs a lot of attention.
“Once in a while I have lost a few birds to diseases, the commonest being Newcastle disease. But thanks to livestock extension officers in every ward, I have been able to contain the diseases. The officers are just a phone call away,” she says.
Ms Mwau points out that her farm has made it convenient and cheaper for farmers who want to buy eggs for hatching.
Unlike in Naivasha where a farmer would buy the eggs at Sh60 each, Mwau sells the same for Sh20 to encourage other farmers especially women to take up the venture.