A visit to Ken Kiura’s home early in the morning found him and his wife busy serving breakfast to their birds at their farm in Gatitu area, just 7 kilometres from Nyeri town. His poultry farming hustle is paying off.
Kiura, a former high school teacher, resigned in 2015 to fully venture into poultry farming, which he plans to expand into related value addition enterprise.
“I was a high school teacher employed by the Teachers Service Commission until I resigned to concentrate on my birds,” said the 38-year-old farmer.
“I left teaching when my subject had a mean of 10.54, which is A-. I felt like teaching was no longer in me and I never wanted to rob the government,” he said.
Kiura started the bird business hustle with 50 broilers in 2008 but later moved to layers in 2014, with 500 birds.
“Broilers are capital intensive, you only dispose of them when mature and cannot keep them for the long, market was also a problem,” he said.
“With layers, you can store eggs when the market is not favourable, you can always negotiate your way as eggs can be stored up to 60 days.”
He also upgraded the housing into a caging system in 2018, which he said, limits movements and therefore conserves energy to maximize production.
At first, he only had basics about poultry but with the robust information on the internet and other interaction with other farmers, he has managed to maintain up to 5,000 birds.
In his extended one-acre farm which he recently leased, he has settled an assistant who has also undergone training on poultry management.
“Feeding and hygiene are key, as hungry and unhealthy birds do not produce; one also has to sanitize to avoided infecting the coops,” said him.
“We don’t like employing experts because they come with a present mind. We hire those who learn from scratch,” said Kiura. “Experts will neglect what you tell them and do their own.”
The assistant is also responsible for the farm’s security as it is some metres away from Kiura’s residence.
His wife, a high school teacher, who is also into the business, said that they only contact experts from Kenchic when the need arises.
According to Kiura, animals work through conditioning which once set, ought to be understood by the farmer.
“Our birds feed at 6 am and 2 pm, beyond these times, they will call you,” said him.
He said that his birds communicate when hungry or when there is an intruder. The kind of noises they make also differ depending on what they communicate.
When there is unusual noise and change in temperature, Kiura gives his birds an anti-depressor to calm them.
“We run them on vitamins when there is unusual noise and change in weather for at least three days to solve their stress as they get to their ambient temperatures,” he revealed.
The vitamins also help solve fluctuation crises in production and marketing.
The Kiuras also have more compartments within the cages that act as isolation units for the sick birds. At the entry, are also treated water for sanitization.
Selling eggs in wholesale has also helped him sell volumes and create more job opportunities, an achievement he is so much proud of.
Today, Kiura’s family sells to two big bakeries and five retail shops within Nyeri town.
Egg business, according to Kiura, has positively impacted their earnings, especially during the coronavirus pandemic when they were forced to quit all their hustles.
The father of five also has a projection of 10,000 birds in the next three years.
“We are working towards reaching a 10,000 mark in the next three years which if God allows will lead us to another related venture,” he said. For Kuria, the hustle is real.