Farmers go for productive chicken breed

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The shortage of Kenbro chicks has led to a situation where farmers breed their own Kenbro stock and sell to other farmers. The demand for cross breeds is making companies that breed and sell day-old-chicks as they are not able to meet this demand.

Kepha Maina has been rearing indigenous chickens for many years in his one-acre farm in Wanyororo in Nakuru. But he was disappointed with their rate of growth, egg production and hatching rate. This changed in November last year when he learnt of Kenbro, a dual-purpose breed of chicken that lays more eggs and has quality meat. He ordered 50 Kenbro day-old chicks and went into rearing them. Within six months, his hens were already laying eggs. Maina started selling Kenbro eggs for breeding to other farmers in his area. He hatched Kenbro eggs using his indigenous hens would sell them as day-old Kenbro chicks. 

Maina has now become known as a breeder of Kenbro chickens in his village. Customers are streaming to his one-acre farm to buy eggs and day-old chicks. But he cannot meet the demand, and he has been forced to put many farmers on the waiting list. He is planning to buy an egg incubator to increase the number of chicks for sale to farmers. “This breed is a blessing to us. It is laying eggs almost daily, and its meat is on high demand in town. The only problem is that I cannot produce enough eggs and chicks for my customers which is why I need an incubator as soon as I can get one”, he says.

Good prices

James Gathogo, an engineer and farmer at Ondiri near Kikuyu town is another Kenbro breeder. He has two incubators, which enable him to incubate and sell Kenbro eggs and day-old chicks to fellow farmers. He sells 400 day-old Kenbro chicks at a price of KSh100 each in a month. A Kenbro cock goes for KSh 1500, while a hen goes for KSh 1200. Due to the many farmers in his waiting list, farmers who ordered Kenbro chicks and eggs from him in April will get their supplies this month. So far he has sold more than 10,000 day-old chicks to farmers. Using his engineering skills, Gathogo produces incubators for interested farmers. He has already developed one from a refurbished refrigerator with a capacity of 500 eggs. He is designing another incubator with a capacity of 3000 eggs to meet the needs of his customers.

What makes this breed attractive?

The two farmers named above are just two of the hundreds of small-scale farmers who have improved their chicken production by buying the Kenbro breed. Why are so many farmers going for the Kenbro breed? Kenbro has become a breed of choice for farmers due to the following reasons:

• It is a dual-purpose breed that lays more eggs than indigenous chicken and has lean, soft, high quality meat. Kenchic Ltd developed it for poultry farmers interested in a breed that can be both a layer and a broiler.

• Kenbro is a hardy breed with low mortality (death rate).

• Compared to hybrid chicken, it is more resistant to diseases.

• The breed grows and matures fast. With proper feeding, it will start laying eggs at five and a half months and will continue laying eggs continuously with the usual break of five to six weeks while molting.

• It can attain up to four kg with proper feeding.

• Kenbro has high quality meat that is very popular with consumers.

Kenbro chicken breed is a protected brand

The Kenbro breed has been developed and introduced into the Kenyan market by Kenchic Ltd. The company’s marketing manager Humprey Mwangi says that the company felt a need to offer a dual-purpose breed suitable for local conditions and which would require less intensive management than hybrid chicken.

But the main issue that is being raised is whether farmers are allowed to breed Kenbro chicken and sell to other farmers. According to Kenchic Ltd, the farmers are breaking the law because Kenbro is a registered trademark of Kenchic Ltd. Kenbro chicken can only be bred and sold by farmers if the farmers have acquired a license from the company.

Secondly, it is clear that farmers are not selling pure Kenbro chicken if they do not separate Kenbro cocks and chicks from other chicken stock. Inbreeding will therefore spoil its qualities.  Good breeding demands that the breeder has to have a carefully selected breeding stock – the breeder has to start from the grandparent, parents and then their progeny.

In this case, it is only Kenchic that has the grandparents and parents of the Kenbro breed. What farmers are now selling to other farmers is the second or third generation breeds, which may not have the qualities of a pure Kenbro breed. By purchasing Kenbro at this stage they are diluting the genetics and vigour of the original Kenbro breed. Eventually this will dilute the breed to a point where the breed they will be selling is no longer Kenbro.

One reason why farmers are trying tobreed their own Kenbro chicken is the huge demand for the breed, which the company has not been able to meet. However, Mwangi says that soon the shortage will be a thing of the past because the company is working to double its production capacity for this particular breed to meet the demand.

Contact: Kenchic Ltd P.O Box 20052-00100, Nairobi, Kenya Tel. 020 2301 518/20 3560 102-3, 20 555 009, 558 102 Mobile 0722 202 163, 0734 600 204. Email:[email protected]

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