Poultry farming refers to the rearing of domesticated birds such as chicken, geese, turkeys and ducks for purposes of obtaining meat or eggs.
Most farmers raise the birds in small scale mainly for their own consumption. However some farmers have taken up commercial poultry farming.
Chicken are the most reared birds with a small number of farmers rearing the other birds. The three types of chicken which farmers specialise in are:
Broilers – kept for meat in small and medium scale by individuals and in large scale by companies such as Kenchic Ltd and Brade Gate Industries.
Layers – reared for eggs and are a favourite of many farmers due to the high consumption of eggs as compared to meat. Some of the large scale companies dealing in layers include Sigma Supplies, Kenchic Ltd and Soft Kenya Farm Ltd.
Kienyeji – indigenous chicken where cocks and hens live together and are not confined. They scavenge for food over an extended open area making them cheap to maintain.
Poultry farmers in Kenya have for a long time been rearing exotic species for commercial purposes. This however changed with the introduction of the kari kienyeji chicken by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) which took the industry by storm.
According to scientists at KALRO, the kari kienyeji is a mixture of several breeds making it disease resistant, more productive as well as cheap and easy to maintain since they can be kept under the free range method of farming.
The birds give farmers better returns on investment since their eggs and the birds themselves fetch better prices in the market. The exotic species’ eggs go for between Sh10 and Sh12 while those of kienyeji go between for Sh15 to Sh20. A mature kienyeji hen is sold at Sh 600 while the cocks fetch between Sh800 to Sh1000. On the other hand, an exotic broiler goes for an average of Sh450.
The knowledge areas that one should focus on when venturing into poultry farming include poultry feeds and feeding programs, poultry birds diseases and how to prevent and cure them, marketing skills in addition to experiences from other farmers to avoid repeating their mistakes.