An ultra-modern hatchery at Brade Gate. The hatchery, with state-of-the-art equipment, can hatch 800,000 chicks a day. Photo courtesy.
In 2005, Dr. Thuo Ma-thenge who had worked hard to become a medical doctor had an option to venture into real estate or poultry business but the latter as compared to the former seemed more profitable and a job creating hence his decision to pursue it.
With Sh50m capital he therefore stated Brade Gate poultry Industries, a business that has been built according to international standards and is one of the largest in East and Central Africa with a capacity of hatching over 160,000 chicks a week, in two sessions.
“If I had eight rental buildings, I would only employ eight caretakers, but by starting this line of business, thousands can get jobs,” said Thuo.
His story if of a young boy who grew up from humble beginnings with a dream to get out of poverty and also help others. He worked hard to become a medical doctor then realised early that since almost everyone could raise a chicken, this could be one of the ways to combat poverty.
After spending time on research, planning and travelling through different parts of the world, he was ready. He took the risk by selling five rental buildings, which he had built while running a clinic and an insurance company.
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Brade Gate which is 10 kilometres from Nyeri Town sits on more than an acre of land, and is home to thousands of hens and roosters.
On approaching the breeding farm at Kahiga Village, one can easily confuse it with a slum dwelling only to be greeted at the entry on a hilly side of the farm, by a sea of beautiful white hens and cockerels; some feeding or drinking, while others are fighting or resting in laying nests after a sunny day.
At least 3,000 broilers are slaughtered and sold to hotels, restaurants, institutions including universities, every day, while nearly 30,000 eggs are hatched daily.
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Brade Gate has a breeding farm, hatchery, supermarket, a processing plant and feed mill. The supermarket is a one-stop for all poultry products, materials, equipment and information, while chickens are slaughtered and packed at the processing plant capable of handling 30,000 chickens a day.
The hatchery, with state-of-the-art equipment, can hatch 800,000 chicks a day. Here the chicks are bred and supplied to customers when one-day old. The hatchery ensures timely and sustained incubation of quality chicks.
The company has also acquired a refrigerated cargo plane to be used to ferry poultry products for export and several refrigerated trucks transporting the birds across the country.
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Once the laying and hatching are done, local farmers are given the first priority to buy the chicks twice a week. About 80,000 chicks are hatched per each of the two sessions a week. “Usually the chicks, which we sell at only Sh65 each, are ready for collection on Tuesdays and Fridays,” says Dr Mathenge, a father of seven.
Some day-old chicks are reared by Brade Gate for meat. Farmers book for the day-old chicks in advance, but if they fail to collect them, they are reared by the company upon undergoing vaccination and feeding with quality feeds, these broiler chicks, which usually mature within 35 to 42 days with favourable weight, enable farmers to get good returns when they sell the broilers to the company.
“The company has veterinary officers who look after the parent stock and offer extension services to farmers. Experienced marketing officers also liaise with the farmers to ensure that once their stocks are mature, a ready market awaits them,” he says.
Brade Gate also has among the best breeds in the world, with the initial 40,000 chickens imported from the Netherlands as day-old have created many indirect jobs.
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The company has acquired an Export Processing Zone Authority licence to be able to export its products. “Our plane, which will be used to take the products beyond the country’s borders, will have its base at the recently rehabilitated Nyaribo Airstrip, which is barely five kilometers from the processing plant,” he says.
“We also want to expand our operations into South Sudan and Rwanda, where we have good contacts. We are also thinking of sending people to Kismayu to see if we can find a footing in the Somali market as soon as peace is established there.”
Thuo’s firm is now frequented by over 50,000 small-scale farmers yearly to buy or learn from him is determined to make Nyeri County a chicken republic by ensuring that every household rears about 100 chicks. His ultimate goal is to help alleviate poverty among the rural folks.