- He says before making the decision to resign from his job, he was keeping kienyenji chicken at his rural home in Gatundu North in Kiambu.
- He continued increasing the number of birds to 300 and later added another 800 birds with capital from his salary.
Zachary Munyambu from Ngoigwa in Thika, Kiambu county is an accountant by profession but resigned in 2006 to venture into poultry farming.
He says before making the decision to resign from his job, he was keeping kienyenji chicken at his rural home in Gatundu North in Kiambu.
“I had 10 indigenous (Kienyenji) birds and when I sold them to a single customer, I made some good profit and decided to shift to keeping commercial chicken layers in 2006. To kick off, I started with 100 chicken and 90 per cent of them were laying eggs after five months. In a day, I could collect three trays of eggs,” Munyambu says.
He continued increasing the number of birds to 300 and later added another 800 birds with capital from his salary.
By 2018, the poultry farmer had 3,800 birds and he could comfortably pay school fees for his children and meet his other family needs.
With 2,000 birds, Munyambu says he made between Sh80,000 to Sh100,000 and he could hardly make half of this money from his monthly salary as a full time account.
He sells a tray of eggs between Sh290 to Sh320 locally at his shop in Thika town and to the nearby hotels.
But in 2018, his poultry venture was at the threat of collapsing when prices of animal feed started going up.
Muyambu says in the same year, there was an egg glut in the market with eggs coming into the country from Uganda. The price of eggs dropped yet the cost of feeds continued to go up.
By then there was surplus of eggs in the market, and Munyambu says he would pick not less than 30 trays of eggs per day and in a week about 200 trays. He says he had so many eggs and no customers to sell to.
He recalls throwing away (burned and buried) not less than 300 trays, and he is yet to recover from that loss to date.
“Farmers started making losses and some abandoned the venture as it was no longer profitable. It reached to a point where I was no longer making much profit as the price of layers’ mash continued increasing, so I began downsizing the number of birds. Today, I only have 1,200 birds and with 1,000 birds, I can only make about Sh40,000,” he adds.
He says between 2015-2017, 500 birds would give a farmer 15 trays of eggs and the first 10 trays were enough to buy feed for the layers so the remaining five trays were profit.
“If you sell a tray at Sh280, you would get a profit of Sh1,400. So the more birds you have, the more profit you make. With 1,000 birds, you can make a profit Sh2,000 to Sh3,000 per day. If you sell it as a layer at Sh300 and you have 1,000 birds, that’s a clean Sh300,000,” he says.
Munyambu says in order to address these challenges, a number of like-minded farmers came together and formed the Kiambu Poultry Farmers’ Cooperative Society.
Munyambu, who is the coordinator of the group, says the cooperative was started to help find a common central market for their produce and also to support farmers in lowering their cost of production by making their own animal feeds.
“Before 2018, poultry farming was not cost effective. The cost of production for a 100-day old chick to when it is matured to start laying eggs at five months, would be between Sh400 to Sh450, today this has doubled to Sh850,” he says, adding that farmers with more than 1,000 birds can hardly manage to run their venture due to the high cost of feeds.
He said he is vying for an MCA in the area in the coming 2022 elections, to be in a better position to influence policy that could benefit the farmers.