A land administrator, who started rearing free-range exotic birds for fun, is turning the hobby into an agribusiness, after seeing the low cost incurred in production and the promising returns one can plough back.
Jorgs Mbugua rears ducks, turkeys and geese in his home at Tigoni, Kiambu County. However, his main focus is on his geese. It all started in 2009, when he bought a gander and two geese, which were being sold by the roadside along Nairobi-Nakuru Highway.
“I was on my way to Naivasha when I bought the one male and two females. I admired the birds after seeing they can be good home ‘flowers’. After two years, the population had risen to 18,” he said.
Despite the notion that exotic animals have to be fed on commercial feeds to be productive, Mbugua said free-range is the best way of rearing these birds, which can earn up to Sh5,000 each.
Mbugua calls the birds ‘lawn mowers’ because they ‘slash’ most weeds and grass in the homestead.
Commercial feeds are only necessary during cold seasons to help the birds remain warm.
“Geese prefer selecting feeds for themselves and should, therefore, have enough space to roam and pick what they want. They mainly feed on grass, but their diet includes young vegetation, tree barks and insects. They also feed on kitchen waste like peels,” he said.
He has 30 geese weighing between 4kg and 8kg, based on breed and sex, ready for sale. He is rearing four breeds which include Pilgrim, Steinbacher, Brecon buff, and Embden.
On wholesale, a mature goose costs Sh3,500 to Sh4,000, depending on the weight. They mature after two years and lay between 15 and 30 eggs yearly, which hatch after 28-30 days.
Geese are hardly susceptible to contagious diseases. They are also intimidating, a characteristic that secures them against most poultry predators such as wildcats, dogs and mongooses.
The geese enjoy the duck’s 3 by 6 feet ‘swimming pool’, which is in the one-eighth enclosure.
He preferred geese rearing to ducks because the latter mature within 10 weeks, and if one does not have a ready market, they are likely to overstay in the farm, adding little value, while taking up space.
“One must start looking for market by the ninth week. After the tenth week, they add insignificant weight. But geese continue building up and improving meat quality with age,” he said.
Mature females can weigh between 2kg to 4.5kg while males can be 5kg to 6 kg. They start laying eggs upon maturity at two years. Farmers are encouraged to get mature geese. He also has five turkeys.