By MATHIAS RINGA
Onesmus Mutuku holds two Kuroiler cockerels warmly in his left and right hands as if feeling their weight before he informs a buyer that they would go for Sh1,500 each.
The buyer, who had visited his farm in Mishomoroni, Mombasa County too feels the weight of the birds before committing to buy.
Mutuku, who keeps over 100 chickens, is used to the ritual every time customers visit his farm.
“People look at the birds and try to haggle the price but when I let them feel their weight, they do not bargain anymore because the birds are heavier.”
The Kuroiler cocks weigh an average of 6kg, with the price rising to up to Sh2,500 during the peak season.
On the other hand, his Kienyeji cocks weigh between 3kg and 4kg, and go for about Sh1,500 each while a Kienyeji hen is sold at Sh700, while a Kuroiler one at Sh1,000.
“These chickens are my source of wealth as they give me at least Sh50,000 a month, with the bulk coming from eggs, and the rest from chicks and mature birds.”
During our visit, Mutuku had just sold 100 Kuroiler chicks and a similar number of chickens.
“The poultry business has transformed my life as I make Sh1,000 a day from selling eggs. There is ready market for eggs and chickens. I sell my products in Mtwapa and Shanzu to eateries and residents.”
Looking at Mutuku, one admires his success with chickens, but it did not come easy.
He started the agribusiness in 2006, having left Makueni County to stay with his uncle in Mishomoroni, Mombasa.
In Mombasa, however, he first turned to charcoal selling investing Sh5,000, a business he did for close to two years saving Sh100,000.
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“I invested the money in a posho mill and at the same time began keeping Kienyeji chickens for my own consumption,” says Mutuku, who started with less than 10 chickens, eight hens and two cocks.
From the poultry business, Mutuku, 35, says he has been able to buy a Sh400,000 one-acre piece of land in Kisauni Constituency.
Apart from the poultry business, Mutuku also keeps pigs having started recently with 10 one-month old piglets, four male and six female, which he bought at Sh50,000 in total.
“Pigs take a short time to mature while they also breed rapidly as an animal can produce between nine and 14 piglets per delivery,” he says, adding he sells mature pigs at Sh18,000.
Mutuku advises the youth not to shun farming as demand for food is always rising, which means ready market.
Mombasa County veterinary officer, Dr Jones Mwita, says with chickens, a farmer should watch-out for diseases like Newcastle, gumboro, fowl pox and fowl typhoid.
They further have to address challenges posed by parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms.
“Vaccination is key in beating diseases like Newcastle and fowl pox,” Dr Mwita says, adding chickens must be kept in well-ventilated and clean sheds.
The birds must be also provided with fresh feeds and clean water.
“The farmer must also monitor the health conditions of the chickens. Sick birds must be isolated from the healthy flock to control spread of diseases,” he added.