When we talk about poultry farming in Kenya the first thing that comes into your mind is chicken rearing right? But what is I was to tell you that you are wrong?
Poultry is just a general term used to describe birds that are kept at home. Of course for consumption and income generation
Do you know that poultry products like meat and eggs can tell your social status if you are a visitor in a Kenyan home? Or at least hint whether you are a much waited for visitor or not.
It is important to realize that most Kenyan households handle poultry products like meat and eggs with a lot of cultural importance and as such prepare them for special functions and personalities.
From a nutritional perspective, poultry products are a great source of protein among Kenyans. As a matter of fact, it is a source of livelihood to Kenyans who live in rural areas where they mainly depend upon proceeds from poultry farming.
In this discourse, I will take you through a review that completely paints a picture of how poultry farming in Kenya is viewed and carried out.
The scale of Poultry Farming in Kenya
Kenyan farmers either indulge in the small scale or large scale mode of poultry farming. As a matter of fact, whether the farmer should go large scale or small scale largely depends on the level of investment they can make in addition to the knowledge of poultry farming the possess.
More than 67% of Kenya’s population lives in rural areas not to mention agriculture is there the main source of livelihood. It, therefore, makes land to be scarce especially with Kenya’s growing population.
Reasons that conveniently place small-scale Poultry Farming in Kenya
- It conveniently synergizes into the daily lives of many small- farmers without demanding too much involvement or investment.
- It is affordable to start and maintain.
- The management of small-scale poultry keeping doesn’t need complicated accounting, stock keeping, and procurement.
Note: New technologies that conserve space and are affordable can encourage the majority of middle and low-class Kenyans to invest in Large-scale poultry farming.
Unique Characteristics of large-scale Poultry Farming in Kenya
- Suitable for facilitating the business tendering of commercial egg and meat production.
- Investment capital for large-scale poultry farming needs to be sizeably huge.
- Needs a structured management system to monitor production, procurement, accounting, medication, sales, and marketing.
Some of the large-scale poultry farms in Kenya include the Kenchic Farm farm in Kiambu.
Main Methods of poultry farming in Kenya
The two most common methods for poultry farming in Kenya are :
- Organic Poultry Farming
- Inorganic poultry farming
Organic Poultry Farming
This is the rearing poultry without necessarily keeping the birds in a cage for the good part of the day. Characteristics of Organic Poultry Farming in Kenya include:
- Sheltering for the birds is provided during the night.
- There is free movement of birds during the day in search of food and water
- benefits nature by facilitating nature’s food chain process since poultry feed on worms and other insects.
- Affordable to start and maintain.
Non-organic Poultry Farming
Non-organic poultry farming is a method of farming that cages the birds. The characteristics of Non-organic poultry farming in Kenya include:
- Birds are under prescribed conditions and environments for an accelerated growth rate.
- suitable for commercial poultry ventures in Kenya.
- Structures used for this venture must observe technical regulations.
- Needs a well-structured management system.
Both organic and inorganic poultry farming can be employed for commercial purposes. Goals that motivate the farmers’ choice on Poultry farming include customer preference for poultry. As such organic or non-organic poultry farming plays a role in meeting the economic aim of the farmer.
The Economic Impact of Poultry Farming in Kenya
There is a strong economic co-relation between poultry production and household income in Kenya
Kenyan Households that are able to practice improved and informed poultry production techniques are in a better position to secure food as well as earn an extra coin from poultry.
Despite poultry farming being an accepted economic venture by most farmers throughout Kenya, still, this industry contributes little nominal value to most lives of the poultry practicing small-holder farmers.
Main reasons behind low economic income from poultry farming in Kenya:
- Poor Poultry market information by the small-holder farmers.
- Lack of union by small-holder poultry farmers in Kenya to regulate the prices of poultry products.
- Poor poultry management skills among small-holder poultry farmers in Kenya.
Note: Strategic Poultry management training among Small-holder farmers touching on the whole process poultry farming from hatching to marketing holds the key to facilitating the success of the Poultry Industry in Kenya.
Types of Poultry in Kenya
Chicken rearing dominates Kenya’s poultry industry by 75% while the remaining domestic birds share the 25% composition of poultry farming.
It is clear that chicken farming is the most preferred type of poultry. This sends the following two messages:
- Kenyan farmers should specialize in new methods of chicken poultry farming to harness maximum profits.
- Or initiatives must be started to see the uptake of other forms of poultry farming with an entrepreneurial connotation.
Note: What Kenyan farmers aspire to achieve through poultry farming will shape the debate to diversify poultry farming.
Why chicken dominates Poultry Farming in Kenya
- Positive cultural connotations held over chicken.
- Limited understanding and perception of other poultry types like geese, ducks, and turkeys.
- A ballooning market for chicken poultry products.
- The taste for chicken poultry meat and eggs is considered to outshine other poultry product types according to a good number of Kenyans.
Note: Even though chicken poultry products like eggs and meat are the most preferred by most Kenyans over other poultry products. More awareness campaigns Kenya can embrace diversity on their poultry diets.
Top 3 birds kept for Poultry Farming in Kenya
Even though there are more than 20 types of birds that are kept as poultry in Kenya only three are the most domesticated. Which are Ducks, Turkeys, and Chicken?
The determinant to keeping poultry in Kenya is based on:
- Taste: Poultry types with tasty products are highly kept in Kenyan farms.
- Sociability: Poultry types like chicken and ducks which have a social and friendly charade are highly sought for domestication.
- Time for maturity: Poultry products that take shorter time frames to mature for consumption have a higher chance of domestication.
- Cost of rearing: The rule is simple, poultry types with low cost of acquisition, management, treatment, and feeding have a high chance for domestication,
- Market demand: The poultry types that are mostly served in diets usually sell quick. This market trend attracts farmers to domesticate them.
Negative effects of poor Poultry farming on Kenya’s economy
Most Kenyans perceive poultry farming to be the rearing of chicken alone. This could be the reason why chicken poultry farming is popular than other birds in the country.
1.7% of the 24% of Kenya’s GDP gotten from livestock production is attributed to poultry farming.
The low contribution of poultry into Kenya’s GDP could be a result of poor farming techniques in this venture.
Most of Kenya’s poultry farming is done in rural Kenya which hosts more than 68% of the Country’s population.
Reasons that make it easier to do poultry farming
Poultry farming has been termed a darling to most small-holder farmers in Kenya because of the following reasons:
- It doesn’t need massive resources like land, big infrastructures like storehouses or machines like tractors to start. An average space and a simple shelter a good to rear poultry.
- Gives returns that outdo the initial investment
- Depending on the type of poultry reared the cost of labor involved can be zero.
Categories of poultry farming in Kenya
The level of poultry farming engagement can be categorized in 3 ways as follows :
- 1-1000 Heads of bird: Small scale farming
- 1001-10,000: Heads of bird: Medium-scale farming.
- 10,001-100,000 and above :Large-scale farming .
Benefits of Poultry Farming
- Securing livelihoods to more than 83% of rural households in Kenya.
- Facilitates the fulfillment of social, religious and cultural fulfilments in the lives of some Kenyans.
- Poultry products are a rich source of protein nutrients.
- Contributes to employment Kenyans working in the hospitality industry.
The potential market for Poultry
- Leaning institutions like schools and universities.
- First food outlets like Galitos and chicken in.
- Established Hotels like the Hilton.
- Outside catering companies that provide meals during special events.
- Military Barracks.
People also read: The Ultimate Guide to Livestock Farming in Kenya
Chicken Farming in Kenya
Mostly poultry farming in Kenya is done on a small scale level for subsistence purposes. The demand for chicken products in the hospitality industry has motivated Kenyan entrepreneurs to invest in chicken farming.
Types of chicken reared in Kenya
The following chicken breeds are can be found in Kenya:
Also known as fryers are specifically raised for meat purposes both at the subsistence and commercial level.
Broilers have special needs during the rearing process from chick level to maturity.
Their maturity period is between 4 -12 weeks. This is dependent on the market taste and desired weight of the broilers.
Considerations that a caretaker for broilers needs to have in mind
When the broilers are still chicks they should be kept in a brooder which is typically a heated shelter for chicks.
But when they develop wings the broilers get to feel hotter when kept in brooders hence they have to be transferred to a recommended shelter.
On that note Broilers fully feather at around 5 weeks. After the chicks spend 5 weeks in the brooder transfer them to a temperate shelter facility.
However when it gets so cold like at night or cold seasons then additional heating may be required to boosts the temperature for the broilers.
Broilers require 15C to 23 C of temperature to thrive.
Since broilers generally feather at 5 weeks it’s important to feed the chicks with feeds that have enough protein to facilitate the feathering process.
Make sure that the feeders (containers that hold chicken feeds) are always full when chicks start to learn how to feed.
When chicks learn how to feed properly then reduce the number of feeds on the feeder to minimize wastage.
But the same feed containers should never run dry.
So, for the first weeks of rearing broilers, the starter feeds should have at least 23 % of protein content.
From 5 weeks and above the broiler feeds, popularly known as growers feed should contain at least 19 % protein.
The broiler chickens, both the chicks and those above 5 weeks need to have adequate clean water that is changed after every moment needed.
Dirty water in the containers facilities throat infections for broilers.
Broilers can have a delicate health status if the environment that hosts them is not clean.
A dirty shelter harbors diseases and infections like New Castle, Fowl Pox, Fowl Typhoid and Coccidiosis.
Characteristics that make Broiler chicken unique
- Mostly have white feathers however specialists suggest that any red chicken raised for meat is a broiler.
- A mature broiler weighs around 500grams.
- Are easily vulnerable to infections that other chicken breeds.
- Both broilers and hens are kept as broilers since all of them provide meat.
- One might be forced to trim the broiler’s beak when they overgrow before maturity.
This is a breed between Broiler males and Rhode Island Red females and is reared for both meat and eggs.
Characteristics of the Kuroiler
- Easy to Rear as they can eat kitchen and farm remnants.
- Good at laying eggs. It can give a total of 150 eggs per year.
- Give a good meat size. Cocks can weigh 3.5Kgs while Hens can weigh 2.5 Kgs. This is above the average weight for chicken which is between 18. T0 2.2 Kgs.
- Disease resistant.
- Mature faster. They take around 10 weeks.
2 important points to consider when taking care of the Kuroiler
- Kuroilers don’t need complete attention like the broilers. In fact, as long as you can secure them from predators and harsh climate like rain you are good to go.
- Make sure that the shelter for Kuroilers has enough space for movement and air circulation.
The kienyeji chicken comes in different colors.
Why the Kienyeji Chicken is popular in Kenya
- Highly resistant to diseases when compared to other chicken breeds.
- The outcome of Kienyeji chicken is relatively higher than the input.
- Kienyeji chickens are easy to keep since they can move around on their own to look for feeds.
- They both serve the roles of laying eggs and producing meat.
- Can give 21 eggs in a month, totaling between 200 to 280 in a good year.
- Most Kenyans prefer kienyeji meat because they perceive ‘chemicals’ have not been used to raise kienyeji chickens.
They are precisely kept to lay eggs as their name suggests.
Feeds should always be available with a composition of 16 to 18 percent protein diet that could be pellets or crumbles.
Oyster shells are recommended for layers to ensure they have enough calcium for faster egg development.
The material used to house the Chicken layers should not be sharp and pointing inside the house as this could injure the chicken.
The material also should be long-lasting so that there is no need for future repairs thereby destabilizing the egg-laying comfort.
5 Unique Characteristics of the Layers
- Start egg-laying at 18-19 weeks.
- On average lays an egg per day. In some instances, they might not lay.
- Layers don’t have ‘a retirement age ‘ to egg laying but they reduce the number of eggs gradually as they get old.
- It is advisable to allow layers to move freely in their place of domestication.
- Keep every layer in their box so as to track the egg-laying graph per head.
Used for both meat and eggs. For this purpose, it is the most desired breed.
The Kenbro breed has been in Kenya for more than a decade.
Characteristics of the Kenbro
- Disease resistant
- Lays at 5 months
- Matures faster
- Tasty Meat
- It can survive in many locations.
- Mature Kenbro can weigh 5Kgs.
They can be raised as broilers or layers depending on the preference of the farmer and the situation at hand.
Characteristics of the Sasso Chicken
- Reaches maturity by 20 weeks
- Are lazy in their actions and movements
- Produces waste good for converting into biodegradable purposes.
Duck Farming in Kenya.
Ducks too are reared for the production of eggs at or both and there are more than 105 duck varieties globally. In Kenya alone, you will find around 105 types of ducks.
Another important point to keep in mind is that male ducks are called drakes while female ones are hens.
In general, ducks are sometimes referred to as ‘waterfowl’ because of their love to swim in waters like ponds and rivers.
Lastly, even though ducks are related to the geese and swans they are relatively smaller. below are examples of duck species.
- Ruddy Shelduck
- Spur-winged Goose
- Knob-Billed Duck
- White-backed duck
- Egyptian Duck
- White-faced duck
- Fulvous Whistling-Duck
Characteristics of the Duck varieties found in Kenya
- Have a lifespan of between 2-20 years or even more.
- Mostly love to hang around water bodies like ponds, rivers, lakes, and wetlands.
- Their feather is waterproof.
- Ducks have the Preen gland near their tail that produces oil to lubricate their feathers.
- Are generally, clean creatures.
- They eat a lot on a daily basis.
- Have embedded feet that facilitate their feet for swimming.
Advantages of keeping ducks
- Experience low mortality rates
- Disease resistant
- Require less space
- Require less attention and space compared to most chicken breeds.
- It can weigh up to 4 kilograms.
Note: Ducks should not be fed with bread because the bread stays longer in their stomach and may increase disease infection.
Turkey Farming in Kenya
5 Types of Turkeys that are Reared in Kenya
- Beltsville Small white
- Black Turkey
- Blue Slate
- Bourbon Red
- Broad-breasted whites
Beltsville Small White
- White in color
- small sized
- not social
- have wide breasts
- Highly adaptable.
- An impressive good growth rate
- Quite weighty (70-80% more than mature broilers )
- Have great taste
- Lastly, they have an early maturation period.
Blue Slate Turkeys
- Usually grey and sometimes referred to as Lavender.
- Instead of egg or meat production, these birds may be kept for their beauty.
Bourbon Red Turkeys
- Very active and sometimes may not be friendly.
- Are red in color?
- Mainly reared for meat.
- They are white in color.
- Reared for commercial purposes to give meat.
- Convert feeds to meat easily.
- It cannot produce without artificial insemination.
- Have a problem walking.
Take Away from Poultry Farming in Kenya
Given these points and based on the complex nature of rearing poultry, its important for poultry farmers as well as the necessary Government Departments to consider the following analyzed points :
- Kenya widely practices poultry farming.
- Still, poultry farming does not meaningfully improve livelihoods for small-scale farmers who are the majority in Kenya.
- Small-holder farmers in Kenya must dismantle the notion that poultry farming is only keeping the chicken.
- Other poultry types like Turkeys and ducks just like chickens have the economic ability to improve earnings for Kenyan small-scale farming if well embraced.
- Individual poultry farmers should settle on the type of poultry farming that works best for them.
Must read: How to Start a Farming Business in Kenya.