Ornamental birds farmer, Lucy Ngugi, inspects duck and guinea fowl eggs being incubated by a turkey at her farm in Kiambu County. She uses turkeys to hatch guinea fowl eggs. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
A farmer in Ukunda, Mombasa County is rearing over 229 different ornamental birds such as guinea fowls on a partial free range system. Valerine Achieng spends approximately Sh15, 000 per month on feeds against Sh30, 000 she would be spending over the same period if she caged the birds all time earning her Sh80,000 to Sh100,000 annually.
She cages the birds but occasionally lets them out in intervals throughout the day to avoid interbreeding. This allows them to feed more by themselves and find some greens.
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“I do not spend a lot of money feeding these birds because from time to time they fend for themselves ensuring that they do not mix up. I normally feed them on pellets, ordinary chicken mash and kitchen remains before allowing them to look for some grasshoppers and vegetation from the surrounding,” said Achieng.
She rears fifteen brahmas, six araucanas, seven australorps, seven chabos, three seremas, eleven speckle sussexs, wyandottes, rhode island red, kuchi, pekin bantam, dutch bantam, polish bantam, guinea fowl, Rowen, guinea fowl and turkeys among other birds.
She sells a pair of Brahma at Sh10,000, a pair of Araucana at Sh6,000, a pair of Chabo at Sh8,000, a pair of Serema at Sh8,000, Speckle Sussex Sh5,000 and Wyandotte Sh5,000.
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Ornamental birds are mostly reared for beauty rather than eggs and meat. They are also small in size hence they need small amount of feeds to sustain. Bantams for example consume between 60g and 80g per day while a laying chicken requires between 120g and 150g of feeds per day.
Lucy Ngugi chose to rear bantams on partial free range within her quarter acre farm. “The bantams require less space, therefore, more economical to rear. The space of one chicken is fit for two bantams. They can be raised in poultry house or on free-range. Their life is simple,” said the Kiambu County farmer, who lives along Thika Road.
“They also take only four to five months to mature although they face a longer dry spell laying 150 eggs a year as compared to chicken which lay 250 eggs over the same period.”
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Regardless of their size, Ngugi sells a-five-month-aged pair of the birds at Sh6, 000 while the eggs fetch Sh50 on the minimum.
Other ornamental birds such as brahma goes for Sh10,000, araucana Sh6,000, chabo Sh8,000, serema Sh8,000, speckle sussex Sh5,000 and wyandotte Sh5,000 in the current market in Kenya.
This is higher than the price of indigenous chicken which retails between Sh800 and Sh1500 depending on the weight and age.
Another farmer, Kimani Njahu, rears wild ornamental birds in his Makongeni home in Thika sub-county. Within his 40m by 70m plot of farm he rears crested cranes, parrots and peacocks which he bought from a friend living in Nairobi’s Utawala.
“With a capital of Sh74,000 I bought a pair of each of these birds from a friend in Nairobi. I further used Sh10, 000 to build a poultry house where I shelter the birds,” said Njahu.
“I always let them out later in the day to walk around and feed more by themselves. This is also an opportunity to attract buyers who walk around admiring them.”
Unlike chicken, the ornamental ones do not need regular vaccination and consume less feed, this make them more profitable.
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A pair of parrots goes for Sh6, 000, he sells a mature crested crane at Sh60, 000, turkey at Sh6, 000 each, four-month old crane birds at Sh45, 000 and a duck at Sh1, 500.
“To rear the birds, one needs a permit from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) which costs Sh1, 500 and is renewed annually,” said Njahu.