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     Turky hatching guinea fowl eggs-Lucy Ngugi.JPG

    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.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Rare birds earn farmer Sh15million yearly

    “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.

    RELATED ARTICLE: IT consultant finds fortune in rare birds

    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.”

    RELATED ARTICLE: Bantams are cheap profitable birds to rear

    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.

    RELATED ARTICLE: Turkeys hatch for guinea fowls

    “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.

    RELATED ARTICLE: How farmer earned Sh100,000 from guinea fowl pets

    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.

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     N26 Green Grams Variety.jpg

    The N26 green gram variety.

    A farmer from Kasiokoni area in Kitui is hoping to increase his green gram yields from 500kgs per season to 900kgs thanks to the N26 green gram variety developed by Dryland Seed Limited (DSL) to adapt to dry climatic conditions.

    John Nzau, who owns a one and half acres farm, has been planting uncertified seeds leading to low yields. He is one of the farmers who last year benefited from the Kenya Red Cross (KRCS) agency and the county government partnership where the two parties launched Ndengu Revolution food security project targeting 200,000 small holder farmers in Kitui County.

    RELATED STORY: More than 6,000 farmers benefit from free green grams seeds in Kitui

    “I am sure that the new seeds that can withstand our harsh weather conditions will lead to the increase of my yields by March and April, the planting season when we expect rainfall,” said Nzau.

    “I have been planting seeds I bought from a friend which I keep on replanting every season and the produce have been decreasing with time.”

    The N26 variety matures within 60-65 days after planting and is tolerant to harsh climatic conditions such as Kitui’s hot semi-arid condition with annual rainfall ranging between 300mm-1050 mm.

    According to the county government, ndengu revolution is appropriated for the region because it  has the best soils for growing the crop which does not require a lot of rainfall.

    RELATED STORY: Green grams sprout in arid Makueni

    Towards the end of last year KRCS issued 200 tonnes of certified green gram seeds worth Sh50 million to the farmers.This was part of the agreement where the county government paid Sh250 for each farmer while KRCS topped up the balance of the other Sh250 for 2kg of the seeds which costs Sh500.

    The county government expects increase in production and cash in the coounty. A kilo of N26 green gram seeds can yield 90kg which can further produce 36m kilograms and when sold at Sh100 per kilogram gives a total of Sh36b in one season.

    To further help farmers like Nzau, the humanitarian agency has set aside Sh500m to buy the produce which is locally known as ndengu in Kiswahili from local farmers to shield them from exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen.

    RELATED STORY: Green grams and groundnuts retailing highest across Kenyan markets

    According to KRCS’s secretary general, Abbass Gullet, there is high demand for Kenyan green grams in Asian countries, including India, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan among others.

    “Dealing with brokers who mostly come from Nairobi has been a problem. They dictated the price of our produce after making us feel desperate thus selling just to avoid missing the market,” said Nzau.

    “It is encouraging that our county government will also assist us access agricultural extension services and technical advice from agricultural experts, upping yields.”


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    Cyrus Kitur, a farmer at Kabiyet dairies cooperative society has quadrupled his milk yields from eight to 32 liters per day after making silage from his maize farm to feed his two cows.

    The farmer has two pits of silage stored fodder which enables him to feed his cows comfortably all year round.

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    Earlier, I was reluctant to chop my maize crop to make silage for my cows. But after some analysis, I realized I could make more money from milk than grain maize. The dry season is no longer a challenge for me” said Kitur.

    “As we are in the dry season between now and April, I had to plan early to ensure I have adequate feed for my cows”

    He now earns Sh31, 000 on a good month translating to Sh372000 annually four times higher than what he used to earn from dry grains last year.

    According to a report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, milk production dropped by 17.5 per cent in the first five months of 2017 (dry months) forcing the government to allow tax-exempt milk powder imports to stabilize prices.

    The report further indicates that 215.9m liters were sold to processors between January and May compared to 261.9m liters in a similar period in 2016. In order to curb this and ensure there is enough milk supply in 2018, farmers can make silage using surplus forage in their farms.




    The silage making procedure


     In 2017, Kitur chopped all the maize from his two acre farm for silage making. He hired two casual workers who dug two separate pits at a cost of Sh3000. Each dimension of the pit was 72 cubic feet enough to hold 1000kg of fresh, chopped material.

    He purchased 20 meters of polythene sheeting at a cost of Sh250 per sheet for lining on the walls of the pits so as to avoid forage from coming into contact with the soil.

    A 50kg of forage cut into one inch were emptied into the pits with even distribution. Kitur added molasses to the stored fodder at the ratio of 1:3. One liter of molasses was mixed with three liters of water and sprinkled over the chopped materials. The farmer used a garden sprayer to distribute the solution evenly allowing the silage to acid quickly and prevent rotting.

    “It is important to compact the fodder after every addition to the pit to drive out all the air, this minimizes attack by fungi on bacteria inside” said Kitur.

    The farmer is currently feeding his cows with the stored fodder twice every day, in the morning and in the evening. Each consumes approximately 30kg of the feed per day.

    “To ensure that the milk has no silage smell, feed after milking or at least three hours before milking” said Kitur.

    The farmer gets an average of 32 liters per day from the cows which he sells to Kabiyet dairies at a cost of Sh32 per liter. This earns him Sh1024 per day.
















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