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Poultry business is uncertain but lucrative

Written By Arthur king peters on Tuesday, 6 November 2012 | 11:37

Poultry farming, no doubt is an important aspect of farming as the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and other stakeholders all agree that developing the poultry industry in Nigeria is the fastest means of bridging the protein-deficiency gap prevailing in the country.
No wonder so many people are into the business despite the risks involved. For Mrs Beatrice Onabowale, a school certificate holder, she got into the business through her husband and she is enjoying the business today.
In a recent chat with Vanguard in her farm at Gberigbe in Ikorodu, Lagos, Mrs Onabowale spoke on various issues, including the challenges peculiar to the Nigerian poultry farmer. Excerpts:
“The poultry business initially belonged to my husband but after we got married, he passed it on to me and I have been managing it ever since,” said Mrs Onabowale.
According to her, everybody needs protein for a healthy life. “Children need at least an egg a day. Adults also need eggs and we all; need meat,” she stated, noting that there are three different breeds. “We have the layers, broilers and cockerels.
The layers usually take 18 weeks before they start laying eggs while the broilers are ready for the market at 12 weeks of age. Cockerels, on the other hand, take about six months before they are ready for the market. Cockerels are rugged and can absorb shocks better than broilers. They are more resilient.”
Mrs Onabowale who stressed the importance of funds in the poultry business said that without sufficient funds, one cannot do well in any aspect of agriculture, especially poultry farming. “But if there is enough capital, you will enjoy the business because it is a business that helps to meet the protein needs of human and adds value to life.
On what it takes to start a poultry farm, Mrs Onabowale said: “Before you start a poultry business, like any other business, you have to sit down and do your homework; do the costing. Number one, you must acquire a piece of land on which to run the poultry. Number two, you have to put up structures for the birds.
You have to acquire the birds (usually day-old chicks) which you need to really take care of for the first eight weeks of their life.
So if you are to start with 500 birds for instance, you will need about N2 million. This will buy you a piece of land which is quite expensive in Lagos State.
And you must ensure that you have enough space for the chickens to run around; then you put up structures because chickens need shelter from the rain and predators.
You can protect them by building them coops or purchasing pre-built ones. Then you get the feeding and drinking troughs. You will need to medicate and vaccinate them. You will feed them from day-old to maturity. All these will involve a lot of money but at the end of the day, you will discover that poultry business is lucrative.”
Asked if it will not be cheaper for an intending poultry farmer to rent a piece of land instead of buying one, she said “it is always better to buy your own piece of land and have a permanent site than to lease because one day, when you must have settled into the business and making progress, the owner of the land may decide to take the land back from you and that becomes a problem because you may lose some birds and customers in the process of relocating.”
On the challenges faced in the poultry business, she said: “There are a lot of challenges. Capital is a very big challenge and in this area where we do our business, we really need light to pump water and keep the birds warm.
We have provided wells for ourselves but there is no light to pump the water so most of the farmers use generator. Water is very important for the chickens.
The birds need light to keep them warm, especially the chicks so since there is no electricity; we use stoves, lanterns and charcoal. Unfortunately, this time around, a gallon of kerosene goes for N1,200, so we use mostly coal now. There is also the challenge of transportation.”
She noted that depending on the source, some layers start laying eggs as soon as they are 18 weeks while others start between 18 and 22 weeks.
Layer farming, she stated, is the most lucrative because apart from giving you eggs, they are also sold for meat at the end of the day. The market for old layers is huge. Prices of eggs per crate depend on the size of the eggs. A crate of pullet eggs goes for N450, semi-pullet goes for N600 and a crate of large eggs goes for N700.
For the chickens, old layers go for between N900 and N1,000 at wholesale price. A day-old chick costs N220.00.
She advised anyone who wants to get into the poultry business to be prepared because it is not a get-rich-quick business but one that requires knowledge and hard work. Finally, she appealed to government for support in the area of infrastructure and also for banks to support small scale enterprises.

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