Chicken farming business in Kenya is becoming popular among farmers due to the growth in consumption and demand for chicken products such as eggs and meat.
It is part of poultry farming that refers to rearing domesticated birds at home such as chickens, ducks, turkeys, and quails. Chicken farming is the most popular type of poultry farming in Kenya.
As the demand grows, production will have to keep up creating an opportunity for farmers. This article will assist explain what you need to know before getting into chicken farming business in Kenya.
Advantages of chicken farming in Kenya
Below are some of the benefits of doing chicken farming in the country.
Availability of ready market
the wide consumption of chicken products in the country has created a wide market for farmers. The market is also well distributed across the country making it easier to farm across the country.
Some of the top buyers of these products include hotels, large institutions, and supermarkets.
Other than the market, there are some additional benefits you will get from keeping chicken such
- Chicken manure- This is good for crop farming as it increases soil fertility. There is a ready market for it as well.
- Chicks- they hatch out of the fertilized chicken eggs. If you keep chicken on a large scale, you can start a hatchery from the laid eggs helping increase your business profits.
Low startup capital
The nature of the business allows you to start small and expand later if you have capital challenges. Hence, the business is suitable for almost anyone to get in.
The only investment you need is buying a few chicks, chicken feed and a chicken shed.
Challenges of chicken farming in Kenya
Since chickens stay close together, the outbreak of a disease can be very catastrophic. Often when one chicken gets infected, the disease spreads easily to the entire brood. A condition that could lead to heavy losses.
However, there are steps to mitigate this such as regular vaccination and keeping them in a clean environment.
Preying by predators
Chickens are flightless birds making them easy prey for predators. This happens mostly for the Indigenous farming method where they are left in the open. Some of the common chicken predators are dogs, wild cats, mongooses, and hawks.
To avoid preying by predators, you should construct a decent chicken coop for protection.
How to start chicken farming in Kenya
1. Doing Market research
Adequate market research should be the first step when starting a chicken farming business in Kenya. This is because it helps you to understand the nitty gritties in the business. Some of the key things to identify when doing market research include;
- Market demand for chicken products. You can get this information by analyzing market data from various institutions such as the ministry of agriculture. You can also do your survey by engaging various retailers such as supermarkets.
- Best chicken breeds to farm. This depends on some factors such as demand and location. Some of the best ways to get this information are by engaging an agricultural professional or an experienced farmer in your locality.
- Business profitability estimates. You can get this information by engaging existing farmers.
- Legal requirements to get into the business. Some of the legal requirements include inspection and compliance by the relevant authorities.
The findings from your market research will help you understand the basic business structure and know what to expect once you venture into the business.
However, market research will not inform you of everything. The rest you will learn through job experience. How you should get as much information as possible.
2. Learn about Chicken farming
Learning helps develop your skills that will come in handy to ensure the long-term success of the business.
The best way to learn about poultry farming is by engaging an experienced chicken farmer. Alternatively, you can take a short course with the nearest technical institute at a fee.
Some of the basic skills in chicken farming that you need to learn are handling and caring for young chicks, how to ensure they are healthy, how to deal with chicken diseases, and finally the business approach because, at the end of the day, you are in it to make money.
The more you learn, the easier it will be for you when you start farming.
3. Create a business plan
Executing this business idea requires a business plan for guidance. The business plan should include both the short-term and long-term goals you have for your chicken farming business.
Planning is all about detailing the steps you need to take to ensure the business is successful in the long term. One benefit of a business plan is offering guidance once the business is in a difficult situation.
Some of the content to include in a chicken farming business plan includes:
- Business products (eggs, Meat)
- Capital requirements and sources.
- Target markets
- The prices of your products – a well-defined pricing system helps with business financial planning
A good business plan is also if you are seeking financing as it is a requirement by most institutions and investors.
4. Choosing the chicken breed to farm
There are 2 main types of chicken breeds. There are broilers and layers. Broilers are the chicken kept for their meat, while layers are kept for their eggs.
However, each category has its variety that you can farm such as
- White commercial broiler chicken
As the name suggests, this type of chicken has white feathers. They mature within 1 to two months and have an average weight of 1.75 kg when mature. Many farmers who choose to keep these types of chicken usually rear them in large numbers to sell them to large customers such as hotels.
These chickens mainly come from parent-stock breeding lines and thus are properly bred for fast meat conversion. However, there are some challenges in farming this breed such as the high cost of feeds, sensitivity to weather changes susceptibility to diseases.
Another limitation is that you can’t mix them with other breeds due to these challenges. Hence, if you chose them, ensure to fully farm this breed only.
- Commercial layer breeds
To get quality chicks, you should purchase your stock from parent-stock breeding lines. Similar to the broiler-type, the breeding lines ensure that the layers are well-bred for the best quality chicken.
Some of the advantages of farming these chickens include high egg quality, increased egg production, and a prolonged egg production time compared to the average chicken.
It is also good to note that eggs from these chickens cannot hatch as they are not fertilized. Hence, you can only sell them for consumption.
On average, an egg-laying chicken can do so for about 2 years from which it reduces by about 20% until it can’t do so anymore. As a farmer, you need to ensure your business has a return on investment by the time those two years are over.
The main challenges with these chicken breeds are their sensitivity to environmental change, which can result in decreased egg production. They are also highly prone to respiratory diseases and worm infestations.
These are free-range chickens but have both broiler and layer characteristics. That means that it can be kept either for its meat or its eggs. They are mainly supplied by the Kenchic Company. These are some of the most sought-after chickens due to the quality of their products.
They are disease resistant due to their adaptability to the local conditions.
They start laying eggs between 22-25 weeks. For the Kenbro broilers, it takes about 10-14 weeks to get ready.
Kenbro layers lay more eggs compared to indigenous layers, but less than the commercial layer chicken.
These improved Kienyeji chickens were developed by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).
These chickens are made to withstand the harsh conditions found in Kenya. This Kienyeji breed produces the most eggs compared to all other breeds. KARI hen can lay 220-280 eggs.
- Rainbow rooster
These are free-range chickens whose origin is India. It was initially bred by Indbro Research and Breeding Farms in southern India before spreading its farming to Kenya.
It can be bred for both meat and eggs and mature within 4-6 months. However, the hens do not brood their eggs.
Egg production by this breed takes an average of 5 months to start and continues for at least 10 months. One key advantage is that it lays more eggs than the indigenous chicken.
Since they are foragers by nature, you should consider rearing them organically to fetch a higher price in the market.
Kuroiler also has its origins in India. It was first introduced to Uganda where it gained popularity due to its high egg production and fast maturity capabilities.
A Kuroiler chicken can lay up to 150 eggs per year which have a high hatchability potential. However, they do not brood their eggs.
A Kuroiler rooster can weigh about 3.5 Kg while a Kuroiler hen can weigh about 2.5 kg at maturity. Kuroilers are also foragers allowing them to grow organically.
In Kenya, Kuroiler chickens are categorized as improved Kienyeji.
5. Decide on the Farming scale
In Kenya, the chicken farming scale is determined by the number of chickens you are farming as per the below criteria.
- Small scale chicken farmer: 1-1000 chickens.
- Medium-scale chicken farmer: 1,001- 10,000 chicken.
- Large-scale chicken farmer: Above 10,000 chickens.
The choice of the farming scale will be determined by your capital abilities and experience. If you have limited resources, you can start small and seek to grow in the business.
Experience also plays a key factor in the choice of farming scale. For new farmers, it is key to start small to enable mastering the process and understanding the market. Once you have adequate experience, you can expand your farming.
6. Get a suitable farming location
For chicken farming business in Kenya, you need to farm in a location in proximity to your target market. This helps minimize transportation and handling logistics that are detrimental to the fragile nature of eggs. It also reduces the transportation and handling costs as well helping boost your income.
The location should also be in a secluded area to prevent the transmission of diseases and infections. As highlighted, some breeds are very fragile to these issues and hence need extreme care and handling.
The reverse is also true. Keeping them away from the populated area also helps prevent disease transmission from the chicken such as the famous bird flu.
7. Constructing a chicken house
Once you identify an ideal location, the next step involves constructing the chicken house. Some of the factors to consider in this process include the number of chickens. However, it is ideal to consult a professional to ensure you have the right building.
If you are rearing Kienyeji breed chickens, you may consider using an improved semi-free-range system. This system will require you to fence off a portion of your land where the chicken can roam. Within the fenced area, you can then construct a chicken coop where the chicken can sleep at night.
The standard requirements for a chicken house are:
- It should be built in an east-west direction. The east-west design reduces exposure to harsh sunlight while still allowing for proper ventilation.
- Have a fully covered roof built in an overlapping manner. This helps to regulate the temperature within the chicken house.
- Litter the floor with wood shavings to absorb the moisture from the chicken droppings. This helps to reduce bacteria infestation and bad odor within the coop.
- Set up roosts for the chickens to perch on when sleeping –The roosts for patching help make sleeping more comfortable for them. A key characteristic of birds.
- Ensure there is adequate light- Exposure to light increases the growth rate of chicken.
- Ensure your chicken coop is well enclosed to keep predators away. By enclosing them, don’t forget to factor in some predators who dig in from the ground.
The most common chicken house structures are:
- Intensive- The best for commercial chicken
8. Purchase the necessary support tools
Once you have constructed your chicken coop, you need to equip it with the necessary support equipment. These include tools such as;
- Chicken feeders
- Chicken watering containers
- Egg trays- in case you are keeping layers
- Incubator- In case your chicken breed does not brood the eggs
9. Find a chicken supplier
This is the next step after having the chicken house and necessary support equipment ready.
A supplier should be credible and experienced in this industry. This is the only way to guarantee getting quality. Hence, choose a parent stock breeding line as a supplier. They offer chicken of various ages, which are very well-bred. Due to the high quality, their prices might be slightly expensive compared to farmers with a hatchery.
Cost is also another factor to consider when getting a supplier. You should negotiate to get the best deal possible. This is because you are in business and these costs will determine your overall profitability.
10. Caring for the chicken
This is the most critical process in the chicken farming business in Kenya. The quality of care has a direct relationship to the output.
Some of the key areas in this process include feeding, weather management, and disease control. On the feeding, you need to ensure they are getting the right quantity and quality feeds. Consider consulting a professional to guide you in this if you have any gaps.
Some of the weather management techniques include introducing a heating or a cooling system in the chicken house depending on the weather conditions.
One of the steps for disease control includes vaccination. This is a key control function as an outbreak could destroy almost the entire lot resulting in heavy losses. Some of the most common diseases to look out for include: Coccidiosis, New Castle Disease, Avian Influenza, Fowl pox, and Fowl cholera.
In case your chickens are affected by any of these diseases, you should dispose of them properly by burying them to prevent transmission of the disease.
If you have young chicks, ensure they are vaccinated on time. The young chicks should not be mixed with other chickens due to a lack of strong immunity.
11. Marketing your products
This is the final process that involves taking your products to the market. The better-quality products, the higher the demand and profitability.
Some of the key marketing techniques involve offering discounts, visiting potential businesses to seek the market and networking.
Timing is also a key factor when marketing. You should target to sell your products during peak demand seasons. This way, you will get better prices and a bigger market.
Costs breakdown in Chicken farming business in Kenya
- Chicken House
For a starter, you can choose to start with a small chicken house. However, the bigger it is the more the costs. It is possible to build one with as low as 10000 shillings. However, depending on the building, it could go up to 1 million shillings. Hence, this will depend on your ability.
- Chicken feeds
The main categories of chicken feeds are starters, growers, layers, and finishers. Consult with the vet to get the best feeds depending on your chickens’ age. The feeds will contribute to the majority of the costs. Buy the feeds in bulk to get a discount.
A bag of chicken feed costs an average of 5,000 shillings. Hence, the total costs depend on the number of chickens you are farming.
The cost of chicks depends on your age and weight. The average costs range between 100 shillings to 400 shillings.
- Chicken feeding equipment
These include feeding and watering containers. This equipment depends on the number of chickens you are keeping.
The growth in the demand for chicken products makes this business lucrative. Hence, as long as you follow the process, the market is profitable.
Don’t shy away from starting the business even if the capital is not adequate for large-scale farming. You should focus to start small and expanding over time.
To recap, the process of starting a chicken farming business in Kenya involves:
- Market research
- Learn about poultry farming
- Draft a business plan
- Decide on the chicken breed
- Decide your chicken farming scale
- Find an ideal poultry farm location
- Construct a chicken house
- Purchase relevant chicken farming equipment
- Getting a good chicken supplier
- Caring for the chicken
- Market your chicken farm
I hope this guide helps you in your process of starting a profitable chicken farming business.