Most Profitable Chicken Breeds: The following feature was first published in Seeds of Gold magazine. Dressed in a white overcoat, a black trouser and gumboots, Nicholas Omondi digs his hand in a sack of poultry feeds and offers his birds at his farm in Dunga, Kisumu.
The farmer keeps 42 ornamental birds that include silky and bantam chickens, doves, guinea fowl and fantail pigeons.
But these are just to beautify his one-and-a-half acres Victoria Eco-Farm. His mainstay are the Kari Kienyeji, Rainbow Rooster and Kuroiler chickens, all which total 2,000, excluding the chicks.
He hatches eggs from the chickens in 15 incubators. “I have two incubators with a capacity of 10,000 eggs. The rest have a capacity of between 2,500 and 8,000 eggs,” says the poultry farmer.
Every three days, he collects over 6,000 chicks for sale. “When they leave the hatchery, I pack them in boxes and deliver to our clients in Kisumu and other counties, including Nairobi.”
Omondi sells to other farmers the day, a week, two weeks, a month and two months old chicks.
A day-old chick goes for Sh85, a week-old at Sh120, two weeks at Sh150, a month at Sh250 while two months chicks go for Sh400.
On the other hand, he sells a mature breeding cockerels for Sh1,500 each.
“The best hen to cockerel ratio in poultry breeding is 1:7. Most farmers over-work their cockerels and this lowers the quality of eggs and, thus, chicks.”
He sells mature bantam and Italian silky chickens at Sh13,000 when they are four months old, mostly to the Asian community.
With contracts from several outside catering firms, the farmer in a good week supplies 1,500 mature birds for events such as funerals and weddings at an average of Sh1,000.
The 35-year-old collects 1,800 eggs per day. He further sources from farmers to ensure he does not run out of the fertilised eggs to hatch.
“We are encouraging contract farming. We have farmers who buy our chicks, once they start laying eggs, we buy back the fertilised eggs from them,” says Omondi, who works with over 100 farmers in different counties.
Interestingly, his poultry business is a ‘side hustle’ as Omondi works as a journalist at Radio Lake Victoria where he presents an evening show.
So how did he built his poultry empire? “I started the business in 2008 with a capital of Sh250,000 from my savings. I really wanted to keep poultry with the passion making me to save nearly every coin I made.”
He used Sh40,000 to buy 50 mature Kienyeji birds comprising of 40 hens and the rest were cockerels. He spent Sh15,000 on feeds in three months and Sh187,000 went to the construction of a one-storey poultry house.
With time, his brood increased as he expanded his hatchery using skills he picked in trainings and seminars sponsored by the USAID, Plan International and others NGOs.
Each day, the father of two, who doubles up as the farm manager, starts his day at 5am by feeding the birds with the help of his workers as he monitors if they have any diseases before leaving for work later in the day.
“We formulate our own feeds from maize germ, cotton seed cake and fishmeal (omena). I add in the feeds coccidiostat and mineral supplements to curb diseases. In a day, we use 12 50kg bags of feeds,” explains Omondi, who has six workers.
He says the few the number of workers in a poultry farm, the more efficient work is done and overall farm management.
His main challenges include diseases like Newcastle, gumboro and fowl pox, which in many cases strike when he is least prepared.
“Each year, I must lose some birds to these diseases. It happens to every farmer before they identify the disease and take preventive measures,” says Omondi, whose dream is to be the biggest supplier of chicks and other poultry products in western Kenya.
Amos Amenya, an agronomist at the Lake Basin Development Authority, while using a charcoal brooder, one should guard against suffocation due to carbon-monoxide.
“For chicks, Gumboro vaccine should be administered when they are a day-old. After 14 days, the chicken should be vaccinated against Newcastle Disease followed by small pox.”