Former quail farmer finds security in chicken farming - FARMERCIST 254

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Monday, 19 February 2018

Former quail farmer finds security in chicken farming

Gladys Chepkoech poultry farm where she wockets an average of sh70, 000 monthly from poultry farming.Photo Benard Sigei
Matobo neighbourhood, Kericho county. This is where we track down Gladys Chepkoech, who pockets an average of Sh70,000 monthly from poultry farming.
This caters for her six-member family’s needs.
“I was bitten by the rearing bug when the quail fad hit the Kenyan market in 2012. A friend told me she was reaping big and I decided to try my hand at it and I have never looked back,” Chepkoech said.
In January 2012, she took a soft loan and added contributions from friends and was able to raise Sh100,000. Chepkoech then obtained a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service.
She bought 3,000 birds, which she kept in a coop. The birds have a 90 per cent laying rate if they are fed properly.
Quail eggs were sold for Sh100 a piece and an enterprising farmer could not ignore the chance to make huge profits within a short time and with little effort.
She stopped quail farming in 2014 because the market got flooded and the excitement died as quickly as it started, making prices dip. Prices dipped to as low as Sh30.
Something new
The same year she acquired 300 layers. Rearing layers is demanding and not as profitable as Chepkoech had anticipated.
The electricity bill was high because she had to fit bulbs in the coop for warmth.
An egg went for Sh8 and a crate of 30 eggs went for Sh250. The birds needed special attention because any slight disturbance, such as battering of mabati, noise from children playing and too much light, lowered production.
They had to be fed continuously because the moment they missed food, they pecked at each other to the point of bleeding and she had to wake up at least three times a night to check on them.
Someone had to be at the homestead round the clock.
Kuroilers
“I sold all the layers left and reared kuroilers, a hybrid breed of layers and kienyeji. I got day-old doreps and kenbros from the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and sell a crate of 30 eggs at Sh450. A matured cock goes for Sh1, 500 and hen Sh900 minimum,” Chepkoech said.
She says business is good and requires less effort.
Why? One just needs to make sure there is enough chicken feed and water and the birds also eat kales and maize grains, so their budget is not too high.
Blinding hawks
On the flipside, it is not a walk in the park keeping the chicken because of challenges including predators - especially hens, hawks and eagles. “You have to run to their rescue when the flock starts squeaking wildly.”
“In a farmers’ workshop we were advised that shiny objects such as used compact discs, broken glass and mirrors blind the hawks and eagles so I put them in strategic places and I have kept dogs to scare away the long-sighted predators,” she says.
Another predator which once attacked the birds is stray dogs, but she counter-attacked this by putting a strong chain link and wire mesh around the coop so that there’s a zero chance of them accessing the birds’ house.

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