Love for ornamental birds pays off for Nyeri family
The family’s success story is a confirmation that a dream does not become reality through charms, but by sweat, determination and hard work.
Even with a success story to tell, the bitter memories of how life was less than ten years ago are still fresh in Teresia Macharia’s mind, and it’s these memories that brighten her face as she narrates her journey to triumph.
The success is clearly displayed on her face, which can easily deceive visitors. “I toiled the soils, did casual jobs, was harassed by employers who at times used flimsy and unrealistic reasons to deny me my dues. To some, no amount of persuasion would make them change their minds not even the fact that I had starving children at home,” says 62-year-old Macharia.
That was about ten years ago. Today, she is her own master, having earned herself a name, status, and freedom of thought.
Macharia is a successful farmer specializing in ornamental birds, a venture that has transformed her family’s life.
The journey to success began in 2008, but in a very small and humble way. “Thousands of farmers keep poultry to get eggs or meat, many more others keep them for prestige while few that go commercial do it blindly, resulting to huge losses and agony after the venture fails,” Macharia notes.
Located at Ruring’u Village in Nyeri County, Macharia’s farm is today a big attraction to agri-tourists, investors and other farmers, with tens of breeds of birds decorating the homestead.
“My family has many breeds from all over the world, not even the sky is our limit and we are still scouting for more. Our resolve is to have all types of birds in our farm, so long as they can adapt to the local climatic conditions,” she explains.
With the help of her husband, Macharia managed to acquire a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) before embarking on rearing the birds.
She began with a few species that included guinea fowls, quails, pigeons and falcon birds.
Today, they are proud owners of hundreds of birds of various types housed in a quarter acre piece of land.
Other bird species available at the farm include the Egyptian geese, silkies, marans, bantams such as pekin bantams and booted bantams, crown birds, Turkeys and a variety of indigenous chicken.
“Though some of the ornamental birds are small in size compared to local types, they are the most sought after as well as most expensive breeds in the world. For example, we sell a mature bantam at KSh4000, a chick aged between a week and one month sells at KSh1,000 with each egg retailing at KSh200,” she explains.
Other chicken breeds reared locally sell at between KSh500 to KSh1,000 depending on size, while their egg retails at between KSh10 and KSh15 each.
Due to the high prices of ornamental birds, most farmers intending to venture in rearing prefer to buy eggs for hatching instead of birds.
“We sell birds such as the Egyptian geese at KSh7,000 each and KSh9,000 for a vulturine guinea fowl. However, some birds can even fetch as much as KSh20,000 per bird depending on their type and availability,” explains Macharia.
“Most of our customers are from outside Nyeri County. Some come from as far as Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret. People from Nyeri are not interested in ornamental birds,” Macharia says attributing the lack of interest to fear of feeding costs.
However, she says some of the birds such as bantams and guinea fowls are not heavy feeders and as such economical to rear. Some birds can also be left to forage for insects, plants and scattered grains in the compound to supplement what the farmer feeds them on which helps in lowering costs.
Macharia’s efforts have paid off. On a good day, the couple can rake in over KSh40,000 from the sale of birds and eggs. She cites a day when she pocketed KSh100,500 after selling birds.
Macharia says they make an average of KSh1,200 daily from the sale of eggs alone.
“Some buyers place orders for chicks through the phone. In case of such orders, we advise them to collect the chicks when they are about one week to one month old instead of when they are a day old so as to maximize their chances of survival,” Macharia explains adding that there is always a ready market for the birds and eggs.
Proceeds acquired from sale of birds and eggs have enabled her purchase four 5,000 eggs capacity incubators.
The other good thing about keeping some of these birds such as the guinea fowls, geese and indigenous chicken is that they are hardy and are not easily attacked by diseases.