By Francis Emukule
The festive season is here and food is a compulsory component.
Key to note; not just any food. We are talking about mouth-watering, sumptuous meals that are well-prepared to nurture our palates during the season.
Key on the menu is all forms of poultry, including chicken, turkey and duck. And that right there presents a business opportunity for the season.
The high demand for birds during the festive season is a green light to invest in a poultry-based business.
Top of the list of profitable birds for the season are broilers, according to Sarah Namubiru, a large-scale farmer, who is engaged in animal and crop husbandry.
She explains that compared to other types of birds, broilers have a short maturity period, adding that if fed properly, they can be ready for consumption within three weeks.
There are three ways in which this business can be done, with one’s choice dependent on the capital at hand.
The options include running a fully-fledged operation from day-old chicks, buying ready-for-sale birds and fattening them to attract a good price or sourcing for local birds from upcountry.
For a budget of sh5m, Namubiru recommends engaging in a poultry business targeting the festive season. One can use sh1m to purchase feed and approximately 571 chicks at sh2m, each at sh3,500.
The rest of the money can cover the birds’ water and electricity bills. However, for this choice, one needs to have a structure in place for the birds.
Otherwise, one would require additional funds to construct a structure. With proper feeding and care, the birds will be ready for sale from December 21.
At this stage, the birds will be weighing less than a kilogramme and can be sold for at least sh14,000. At that price, if all the 571 birds survived, you could make a profit of at least sh2m.
If you desire to get a higher return, consider stretching your target to December 31; this way, the chicken will weigh at least one kilogramme, going for sh15,000.
Broilers, usually over a month old, cost sh10,000 wholesale and can be resold at sh14,000.
“To get the best deals, it is advisable to book the chicken from the farmer right from the time they begin keeping the birds,” Namubiru says.
If you bought 100 birds, each for sh10,000, and sell at sh14000, you would make a profit of sh400,000.
For quick money, Namubiru recommends this method since one does not incur feeding or other costs. To attract more buyers, it is advisable to dress the chicken and charge an extra sh1,000 for the service, which means for every chicken bought, there is an extra sh1,000.
For those that might want to slaughter the chicken and freeze it for sale, there are things to consider.
Obviously, you need a deep freezer, as well as a budget for power, but ensure that chicken does not overstay as customers prefer fresh products.
Specialising in local chicken
The other viable approach is buying local chicken from upcountry.
However, before you take this approach, establish connections with people that consistently travel upcountry, preferably passenger service vehicle drivers or conductors as they are instrumental in delivering the chicken.
So, before the festive season arrives, Namubiru recommends sourcing the birds, with the going rate being sh15,000 per bird.
Once they arrive, feed them to increase their weight, because the heavier they are, the higher the price they fetch. A well-fed local chicken can go for sh50,000.
For all options, Namubiru recommends looking for market from the onset. This can involve setting up a stall near where the birds are kept or in big markets like Nakasero or Nakawa. Hassan Kayemba, a dealer in poultry birds in Nakawa market, says dealers who sell chicken at stalls and cages should strive to sell them immediately; otherwise, they will lose weight, hence fetch less money.
Kayemba adds that you must understand your target market. He explains that high-class people usually eat local chicken, businesspeople often go for broilers and the middleclass opt for off-layers.
As for corporate clients, getting word out to them about the chicken can mainly be done on social media.
Key to note is that in case the chicken do not sell by December 31, when January sets in, you can sell them at a reduced price or look out for people holding parties who can buy.
Namubiru explains that broilers must be kept warm in order to grow properly; this can be achieved using a lit charcoal stove.
Kayemba says if you are to keep the broilers in the stall, you need to cover the cage with a tarpaulin to keep them warm.
He also says you must space them as overcrowding can lead to death.
Kayemba adds that providing enough water for the birds is important, otherwise, they will get dehydrated. If all these precautions are not followed, the birds will die, which will lead to losses.
As for the local chicken, they must be fed properly and they should not overstay at the stall because they will lose weight and attract lower prices.
While in transit from upcountry, some chicken might die due to the long journeys, and this applies to the broilers as well.
The death of some chicks is inevitable, but this can be prevented by treating the birds well and taking good care of them. The other risks are disease and theft.
According to Namubiru, theft often occurs when there is little or no supervision at the farm. Therefore, she recommends constant supervision and random visits to the farm.
To guard against diseases, the birds need to be treated as recommended by the veterinary doctor, or better yet, hire a professional veterinary doctor to help with the treatment.