Exotic bird farmer Lucy Ngugi holds guinea fowls. Exotic birds are helping her recover from quail losses because of the good price they fetch. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
After losing more than Sh1 million to the much hyped, but failed quail farming, Lucy Ngugi is progressively recovering after veering off into other exotic poultry.
The Kiambu County farmer has found more returns in rearing rare birds instead of the chickens, which she says attract more investors while affecting returns.
“Everybody from villages to urban town farmers has chickens. The availability defines prices of commodities. That is why a chicken will never beat a guinea fowl, turkey, bantam or other exotic birds in selling despite both of them having similar requirements,” the farmer said.
A six months old hen of about two and half kilogrammes costs between Sh600 and Sh800 in Nairobi outside the festive seasons. A cock of about four kilos fetches about Sh1,000.
A guinea fowl of two and half kilos after six months costs Sh2,500- over three times more than a hen of the same age.
“A keet (the young one of a guinea fowl) costs Sh1,000 after one month, while that of a chicken hardly earns Sh300. At that age, both have consumed almost the same amount of water, feeds and other resources,” Ms Ngugi said.
On the day www.farmbizafrica.com visited the farmer at her Ruiru residence, she was dispatching 20 keets to another Busia farmer who had ordered and paid via mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa.
An egg of a guinea fowl costs not less than Sh100. At low season, one egg fetches up to Sh200 while that of a chicken hardly reaches Sh20.
The turkeys, which are part of her expanding agribusiness, fetch well too with an egg earning about Sh100.
Although the heavy bird may consume more in feeds than its chicken counterpart per year, Ms Ngugi sells a male turkey at between Sh6,000 and Sh7,000.
“Although not everyone can afford a turkey cock at this time when it is about six to ten kilos, the now market is still untapped and pays well. A female turkey earns up to Sh3,500,” the farmer said.
Although all poultry are susceptible to diseases, this farmer from Membley Estate, which is along Thika road, had not seen guinea fowl falling sick right from hatching to maturity.
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Bantams mature in four months. They are close relatives of chickens, but their body is shorter. They look like stunted chickens.
She is selling these birds at Sh6,000 a pair while the eggs cost from Sh50 onwards.
Given that the turkey are better natural incubators, Ms Ngugi uses them to hatch for guinea fowls and ducks, with each able to handle about 60 eggs.
She is expecting about 140 young ones from the four turkeys, which are incubating 160 eggs, by the end of February.
The quail farming project nose-dived after a much publicised campaign about the health benefits of the eggs as well as the meat of the bird. An egg was being sold at about Sh40.
In consultation with her husband, they invested Sh1 million into buying and maintaining 3,000 quails in 2015.
The market was flooded with the eggs and meat and the prices sharply fall with the eggs earning as low as Sh2 each. In recovering the capital, she disposed the quails at throw away prices and got about Sh100,000.
Ms Ngugi can be reached on +254717019511