Titus Kiptoo has been minting cash-rearing ornamental birds such as guinea fowls, turkeys and geese. He started rearing the birds in 2015 after he was introduced to the business by his friend.
“I was introduced into turkey farming by my friend Caren. I visited her place and developed interest after seeing them,” says the farmer, who keeps the birds in his home near Eldoret-Kachibora road.
His birds free-range in an area of around three acres. The turkeys and guinea fowls are housed in a structure made of iron sheets and wood.
“Both birds love perching by nature, so we have constructed perches for them to sleep at night,” he says.
“ I started small with one turkey, then gradually grew my stock. I bought my first turkey at Sh1,500 back then. I started with one female.”
He reveals that turkeys are sold at various prices, depending on the variety of birds. They are sold for between Sh6,000 and Sh12,000 a pair, whereas guinea fowls go for Sh4,000 to Sh8,000 per pair, depending also on the variety.
Currently, the farmer has 103 turkeys, 49 guinea fowls and 10 geese. He feeds them with layers mash that he buys from a neighbour who also keeps layer chickens and mixes his own feeds for sale.
Mr Kiptoo feeds them once in the morning, then the rest of the day the birds free-range for food.
He says that the cost of production has gone up due to high cost of feeds.
“Production has significantly increased over the past year, although we look for new ways to cut on feed cost, such as planting vegetables to be used as feeds,” he says.
Like other businesses, Covid-19 affected his business.
“I know of many clients of mine who lost their jobs during the pandemic. That was a huge blow, considering that they had plans to purchase more birds,” says the farmer.
The biggest challenge according to him, is cost of feeds.
“Each week the price of commercial feeds goes up, which makes it almost impossible to make good returns,” says the farmer, who gets customers from all over the country.
The young farmer specialises in selling day-old keets and poults at Sh300 each. He also sells guinea fowl eggs for between Sh100 and Sh150 each, depending on the variety of guinea fowls laying the eggs. “The white one, royal purple and lavender are a bit rare, so their eggs fetch higher prices. Turkey eggs go for between Sh200 and Sh250 each,” adds Mr Kiptoo.
According to the farmer, market research is very important if one is to succeed in any venture. He adds that patience is also key because one has to go through the pain barrier. He reveals that for one to rear guinea fowls, he/she has to have a licence from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
The venture, he notes, is profitable provided the farmer closely monitors his/her birds “because both turkeys and guinea fowls like to lay eggs in bushes.”
There is the need, he adds, to vaccinate the birds to avoid fowl pox disease, which can be a menace in turkeys. The young farmer reveals that he plans to expand his flock of birds to include other exotic breeds that he does not have in the farm currently.
Mr Kiptoo is also assistant county commissioner for Teso North Sub-County.