Good returns, courtesy of poultry knowledge

Ms Philip did not know much about poultry production, but through support from Biovision Africa Trust extension staff, she has improved her poultry rearing enterprise which has changed her life. Along the bumpy road into Machakos town, the chirping of chicks in ascending order is heard. It is mid-day and the scorching sun rays spread a mirage across the horizon. Esther Philip, a poultry farmer ushers me into her compound, with a poultry house strategically placed at the edge of her compound.

“My little flock of chicken hatched 50 chicks. Unfortunately, all were swept away by disease. I was demoralized until I met Mr. Anthony Musili, from Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT), who rekindled my hope in poultry farming,” Ms Philip says smiling.

Ms. Philip has a passion for poultry farming and that is why she started the enterprise in 2014. Although she didn’t have any prior knowledge of the farming venture, with her meagre information, she started off her business with 20 chickens. With zeal, she nurtured her chicken in a shanty she had put up to house the chicken. “My chicken venture grew to a 100 chicken in a short span. I sold about 80 chickens and I generated a good income from their sale,” she says happily. “But, due to insufficient knowledge on the management of poultry, my poultry farming deteriorated swiftly,” she adds.

Training empowered her

BvAT’s Farmer Communication Programme (FCP) empowers farmers with the right information to enhance their farming activities and exploit their full potential. “I’m affiliated to Nimutui Self Help Group (NSHG), where I met Mr. Musili who had invited me to give a talk to farmers on chicken management.

I took note of best housing practices, pest and disease management and feeding habits. I’m reaping the benefits now,” she says cheerfully. BvAT provided her with personalised training and mentorship programme. The FCP programme issues farmers in the region with The Organic Farmer magazine which offers information on step-by-step instruction on each farming activity,” he explains. Ms Philip often calls the field officer to seek a clarification on any information in poultry farming. Prior to receiving FCP training, her poultry farming dream had been difficult to realise. Now she follows all the guidelines given to her. Hence, the good fruits she is reaping now.

She improved production

After the training, Ms Philip’s chicken’s health improved and eggs collection increased tremendously. Her 20 chicken, too, laid more eggs from the usual 5 eggs she used to get to 15 eggs in a day. For disease management, she uses aloe vera, Croton megalocarpus and other herbs in their drinking water. Ms Philip is passionate about her poultry farming. “After the training, she was the first to implement the knowledge acquired during the training. From poultry management, disease preventive strategies and maintenance,”

Mr. Musili revealed. Due to her diligence in work, Ms Philip is now happy about her poultry venture. She is able to feed her family, pay school fees for her children. From the sale of her chicken stock, she has managed to buy an incubator from where her chicks hatch. Any farmer, in need of chicks and inspiration go to her for advice.

Challenges

With increased stock of chicks and frequent power interruption, running an incubator has given her many sleepless nights. At one time power interruptions made her lose half of the chicks in the incubator. However, she acknowledges that for every challenge, there is a solution. Whenever she experiences such power failures nowadays, she uses a blanket to cover the incubator as she waits for the power. In one incidence power interruption occurred while the hatching process had started.

This challenged her to innovate remedial ways to complete the hatching process. “I boiled hot water and placed the incubator over the boiled water in a sufuria. But the temperature was so high that I had to pour the water into a plastic bottle and place it in between the eggs and the process went on smoothly.” She states adding, “I only lost 6 chicks during the process.” She uses a charcoal jiko in her brooder to provide heat to the chicks, a technology she learnt from The Organic Farmer magazine.

Ms Philip is enjoying good returns from her small poultry farming project. She sells week old chicks at Ksh120 and their demand is high. She has also diversified her business venture. “I have opened a salon business from the savings made from poultry farming” She states happily.

Farmers can contact Esther Philip on 0723478531.