I started out with just three chickens

A plan by Rose Wambui’s mother to keep her busy and away from bad company after primary school by buying her three hens worth Ksh1,500 unwittingly sowed the seeds for a succesful poultry venture

Little did this youthful mother know that she was ushering her daughter into a profitable mini-business that today earns her now Form Two daughter a Ksh30,000 gross income a month. The young farmer says she fell in love with the business of looking after the three chickens, which have since multiplied to 60 layers and another 100 chicks of varying ages.

“My mother gave me two layers and a cock. One of the layers was a Kenbrew, which is ideal for laying fertilised eggs, and the other layer was a kienyeji type (traditional) for incubating the eggs. “In three months, the kienyeji layer had hatched 15 chicks, which all survived, raising her stock to 18. In another two months, she had 33 birds and within a short period she had

60 layers and 70 chicks,” Rose says. It is from this stock that her fortunes have been transformed to a point where she is raking in a good income. The arithmetic is easy. From the 60 layers, she gets on average 600 fertilised eggs per month and sells each for Ksh20. That fetches Ksh12,000.  She also sells on average 600 non-fertilised eggs at Ksh15 each, earning a further Sh9,000. From her stock, she sells a month-old chick at Ksh200 each and a mature one at Ksh500 each. “I sell about 10 chicks a month and at least 10 hens. The income can be higher, especially in December during the festive season or lower due to disease outbreaks. But my average is Ksh30,000 gross income a month,” she adds.

So, how does a 16-year-old balance between attending to poultry and her education at Kigumo Girls High School (Murang’a County), 20 kilometres from her home?

“My father has several workers on his dairy farm. One attends to my chickens when I’m in school. From my returns, I contribute Ksh3,000 a month to his salary,” she says. To manage her money and ensure she has some savings, her father Mr Rwagana Kariuki opened a junior bank account for her, which she will get access to after she turns 18. The young farmer is now convinced that “the agricultural sector has hidden treasure that is capable of transforming lives at the grassroots immensely.” Though she hopes to study medicine in future, she will not be abandoning her poultry rearing. “My main objective is to pursue higher education, but in pursuit of that extra coin, you can bet that I will be in poultry keeping for a very long time,” she adds.

What about project overheads in her business? “My stock consumes Ksh5,000 of feed every month. Veterinary costs are about Ksh800. Add the Ksh3,000 that I give my dad with every month and on average, the total cost of production per month is Ksh8,800, leaving me with Ksh21,200,” she says. The most serious challenge in her enterprise, she says, is the viral coccidiosis disease. “It kills fast and can wipe out a whole flock in just 48 hours,” she says. But for milder diseases there are effective medicines in agro vets. She also laments that some animal feed dealers sell substandard feeds, adding that two-week and below-old chicks are very sensitive to adulterated feeds.

“I know of one company that offers safe feeds for chicks. Most of the others are a risk. This company has since lowered its prices in line with the budgetary zero-rating of raw materials in animal feed manufacturing companies,” she says. And how did she get to know about that 2015/16 budgetary government subsidy on animal feeds processing? She teases: “Everything is in the newspapers and on Google. I often read agricultural publications and newspaper inserts, you cannot expect me to be in the dark about such, would you?” She may not have an idea about allocations for the steel or locomotives industries, but on poultry, she is conversant with most of the current trends. Rose advises all skilled and non-skilled job seekers to think seriously about whether “to continue being idle as they wait for something to fall from heaven or get busy themselves with profitable occupations.”

She adds: “Poverty is also an agricultural occupation where you farm a crop called laziness and fear to use your brain for your own benefit. The harvest from that farming is called poverty.”

The maths of feeding

Chick rearing (wk1-wk 7) & chick stage:

  • Each chick consumes 2.0 – 2.4 kg per period to the end of the seventh week.
  • Consumption for 200 birds = (200 x 2.4)/ 70 = 7 bags of 70kg each of chick mash
  • Growers rearing (8th –19th week)
  • Each pullet consumes 6.8kg of feed.
  • Consumption for birds = 200 x 6.8kg/70 =19.42 =19 bags of 70kg of growers mash
  • Layers: Each bird consumes 110gm per day = 121bags of 70kg of layers mash


The amount and quality of water you give to your chicks is important for their growth and future productivity. They should be given twice as much water as food.

Beak trimming

This is done to prevent feather pecking, cannibalism and to reduce feed wastage.

It should be performed by trained personnel. Poor beak trimming often leads to unevenness of the beaks and can cause difficulties in feeding and drinking, leading low body weight. The first beak trimming should be done at about 10 days and the second at 8 to 10 weeks.

• Sh5,000 – Amount of money farmer spends on chicken feeds monthly
• Sh800 – Amount used to buy drugs
• Sh3,000 – Money spent on labour
• 48hrs – The time one deadly disease takes to wipe out a flock of chicken.

Health benefits of egg consumption

Eating eggs lowers risk of heart disease, breast cancer and eye diseases such as cataracts. Eggs are an excellent source of high quality protein, rich in amino acids, calcium, sodium, iodine, selenium, choline and vitamins A, B, D & E; described by nutritionists, as a large vitamin pill – a mineral cocktail, they contain all the essential vitamins and minerals required for a healthy diet.

Eggs are packed full of goodness; from vitamin A, which is needed for the healthy development of the body’s cells, helping to maintain healthy skin and eye tissue and assisting in night vision, vitamin B12, which is necessary for the formation of red blood cells, important for the immune system to function properly, and helps protect against heart disease, right through to choline, vital for nerves and muscles to function correctly, and proven to lower the risk of heart disease, prevent age related memory loss and reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 40%. Eggs really are a large vitamin pill, in 100% natural casing.

We are regularly told how important it is to eat a balanced diet; we need protein and plenty of vitamins and nutrients. Fruit, vegetables and meat naturally spring to mind, and combined can provide all these, but one food contains them all – eggs.

Health organisations around the world are actively encouraging people to eat more eggs to ensure that they benefit from nature’s natural vitamin pill. The Australian Heart Foundation recommends that people eat six eggs a week. In Canada eggs carry the country’s health check mark, and the Irish Heart Foundation has coined the phrase, an egg a day is okay.


Share this post

Comment on post

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *