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Challenges Facing Small Chicken Farmers in Africa

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Chicken farming in Africa has certain challenges, Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses will help you solve problems when chicken farming. Apart from the challenges that face all Poultry farmers around the world, South Africa, and Africa face other issues.

 

 

Here are some of the more common, especially for those small poultry farmers and new chicken farmers who have just started, or would like to start farming. As many farmers are farming in deep rural areas the following list is what problems you can expect. While these problems are also faced by farmers closer to towns and cities - the scope of the problems are smaller.

Water

Water is one of the keys to any kind of farming. Fresh, clean running water is unavailable in many rural areas. This is by far the biggest challenge. Emerging farmers are forced to pay exorbitant costs for water connections and for a borehole to be drilled. Drilling companies charge very high prices to drill in remote locations.

Electricity

While electricity may be seen as a luxury, when farming chickens in very hot or very cold areas, electricity is very important. While gas can be

 

used for heating it is often expensive and difficult to purchase in Rural Africa. As many farmers do not have transport - filling a gas bottle can present a major challenge. Cooling is critical - without electricity no fans can be used. While Solar energy and alternative energy look promising, the costs are still high and for the average small poultry framer, are not a solution. Coal can be used to heat a house - but with South Africa trying to meet world green energy requirements it is not an option. Egg producers will have to deliver their eggs every few days in hot areas, or will have to run a fridge or cold room to store the eggs.

Food

Delivery of feed for chickens in remote areas is almost impossible. As many farmers are small farmers, the costs become prohibitive. Unlike large poultry farms, the small chicken farmer does not have the scale of benefits working on his or her side. Buying large quantities of feed presents its own challenge - cash flow being number one. Closely followed by storage and shelf life. The result is that the small farmer pays a much higher price per kilogram and must find a way to purchase feed regularly - without the benefit of a bakkie or truck.

Litter

As with feed, delivery and a close supplier of wood shaving for litter is a major problem. Farmers with access to bush lands can, and do, use grass cut from the bush - as long as the grass is not too dusty it works very well as litter - it does need to be changed more often than wood shavings though.

Delivery of product to customers

Once the small poultry farmer has solved and faced the basic challenges, and has managed to get together a successful crop, delivering the product to market becomes a problem. Broilers will need to be taken to market or delivered to customers every 4 - 6 weeks, whilst the egg farmer will need to get the eggs to market every 2 or 3 days. Bad roads and infrastructure also hinder deliveries and collections on small rural farms.

Corruption

Many small farmers are hurt by corruption before they even start. Middlemen posing as Poultry experts often add huge margins for simply getting 3 quotes for government. Small farmers need every cent that is available to start a successful chicken farm. If the middlemen were not taking such huge margins, the farmer would be able to acquire items like fans and heaters, and add storage to their farms.

High costs for small quantities

Poultry farming is a very competitive business - buying feed, medication and supplies at a higher than average price is a sure way to fail. The economy of scale does not work for the small farmer - and less so if they are running a chicken farm from a rural area.

Theft

The lack of funding for secure fencing and secure storage forces small poultry farmers to pay guards or live next to their chicken house. All poultry sites should be secure before any building or faring proceeds. Adequate lock up storage is needed.

Disease

Whilst all farmers face this problem, the fact that in almost all rural areas there are free ranging African chickens. Without proper fencing and the correct training, disease becomes a bigger challenge. There are some farmers who also farm with pigs on the same property - while this is not a problem if the pigs and chickens are far from each other it can become a potential problem when the pigs and chickens are farmed close to each other. Medication and the delivery of medicines in remote areas is impossible. Access to qualified vets and experts makes medication chickens very difficult.

Training

Many small farmers raise funds and dive into poultry farming without adequate training. Due to budget restraints, government funding does often not cover training. Training should be completed, and passed, before any money is given for the actual chicken project. Apart from leaning about poultry farming training MUST also include basic book keeping and business principles like cash flows and budgeting. As many of the recipients of government grants are illiterate or have a low level of education this challenge needs to be addressed. A good start is to read starting a poultry farm.

Co-ops and Projects with multiple members

Like any successful business, chicken farming requires dedication, long hours and high skill levels. It also require responsibility. The current method of giving government loans or government funding often forces people to form co-ops or group farms. While this may seem like a solid idea from the outside, it rarely works on the ground. Usually there is one or two driving people who have come up with the idea to farm (These are the entrepreneurs). They do all the ground work, training, applications and business plans. They are forced to find other members who are often not motivated, have unrealistic expectations, and are not willing to do the hard work required. As it is a group owned farm, real entrepreneurs are then hindered by having to have group consensus - often the voted for decision is not in the interests of the farm or business - but a group choice to pull money out. As many of the members have no experience in business or farming, the decisions that are made are seldom the right decision or direction. Like any business - it is driven usually by one persons vision and passion. If that person does not have the power to make hard choices the business usually fails.

Networking

Lack of Internet and basic communication tools and skills can be a problem. As many farmers are in remote location they do not have access to peers or mentors near them. Every farm should have access to the Internet and resources like the poultry forum, where they can network and talk to other small farmers, The sharing of knowledge and experience is critical to any successful farmer - especially the emerging farmer. Access to resources like  www..africanpoultryfarming.co.za  and www.chicken-farming.co.za can make or break a farmer. Finding products and prices, suppliers and customers can only be done on the Internet for those farmers who are hundreds of kilometres away from major centres.

Government loans and Government grants

While government has it's heart in the right place there is a need for properly trained consultants. Many chicken houses that are funded are ill thought out and badly executed. The government method is to get 3 quotes - all exactly the same so they can be compared. This only makes sense if the person reviewing the quotes know what they are doing and what the particular farm requires. More often than not vital pieces of poultry equipment are left of the list - items like fans and heaters are often not considered. Storage for feed and a small office are never included. While comparing a quote on paper seems like the correct method, it does not work. Often important details are missed, such as steel thickness, curtain thickness and quality, cement slab quality and thickness being some of them. The site for the poultry house is almost never considered creating shortfalls for levelling the ground and the lack of water and electricity. Contractors arrive on site only to find that the slope is too great to do a good job, no electricity and no water. Often chicken houses are built without any kind of provision for flooring. There is no plan in place for which direction the house should face to best suit the chickens. No allowance is made for future growth, or for effective farming practises. Seldom is fencing included. All of these thing create a massive challenges for the emerging farmer. In many cases the farm will fail in its first cycle. Money from many overseas companies is often pushed toward agricultural projects in Africa - these cover cut flowers -  piggeries, and many other kinds of farming such as grain, vegetables etc.

 

Comments   

Chicken Man
-1 #30 Chicken Man 2014-01-04 04:54
Hi Elias,
Finding markets is always a challenge - and in egg production this is no different. Where is your farm, and are you doing free range eggs or cage eggs?
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Elias
0 #29 Elias 2014-01-01 18:18
READY TO START...

I have researched over and over again to start my small layer (2000 hens) farm. Raised enough budget, secured area to build, know what to by and where and how much...

Slight issue I'm facing is the markets to deliver eggs to.

I fear the prospects of having "wonder hens" producing thousands of eggs a day and I haven't really planned on who I will be selling to.

please give me some direction to first sort out small contracts, before I go get these "wonder hens" :-)
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Rudi
+5 #28 Rudi 2013-07-08 11:08
Good day,

I would like to start a small chicken farm "broiler" but I haven't got any training nor experience in it. Where can I get the necessary training BEFORE I start investing my saved money?
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somnandi090
+2 #27 somnandi090 2013-05-10 12:34
hi im loking to start for a poultry chicken farming,hw much would b the layer cages for 100m and how much d feed milling equipment for 100m?
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Ntobeko Maranjana
0 #26 Ntobeko Maranjana 2013-02-19 14:48
There is nothing wrong with reselling chickens but I strongly suggest you grow them yourself. Kiki-agri offers ABC training and help you set up a farm within days for your benifit and for more profit. Please google them on "KIKI-AGRI
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Selikane Selikane
+1 #25 Selikane Selikane 2013-01-04 17:38
Quoting Layer Cages:
we sell layer cages in South Africa - contact us for a quote.

Please give quote of three-tier layer cages.
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Shakil khan Durrani
+1 #24 Shakil khan Durrani 2012-09-10 02:18
Hi i whould like to start a medium size buseness in preoducing from egg to day one chickens. i looking for all/any help you can provide me .
my project will be in Pakistan and not in U.K.
I whould like to start with egg laying chicken farm and supply the eggs direct to my hatchery hence keeping quilty control.
thank yo in advance
S. Khan
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Layer Cages
-1 #23 Layer Cages 2012-09-06 03:46
we sell layer cages in South Africa - contact us for a quote.
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Mlindo Mzuku
+2 #22 Mlindo Mzuku 2012-09-06 00:30
I have just acquired a small farm, i want to sell live chickens for slaughter, i need a supplier of culls chicken and cornish spent chicken.
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Chicken Man
0 #21 Chicken Man 2012-08-27 05:48
Quoting Tshepo Gao:
Am a chicken farming starter, am looking for a mentor or consultant, alert me anytime!

What do you need to know - hpw many chickens and what kind of farming - Suggest you post on the forum - Link top left of this page.
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Chicken Man
0 #20 Chicken Man 2012-08-27 05:48
Quoting Carlos Wehr:
Starting a free range poultry farming business. Seeking advice to obtain possible wholesalers or other to buy meat packs and eggs.

Suggest you post on the forum - Link top left of this page.
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Carlos Wehr
0 #19 Carlos Wehr 2012-08-26 06:35
Starting a free range poultry farming business. Seeking advice to obtain possible wholesalers or other to buy meat packs and eggs.
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Tshepo Gao
0 #18 Tshepo Gao 2012-08-05 23:18
Am a chicken farming starter, am looking for a mentor or consultant, alert me anytime!
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THANDI
+3 #17 THANDI 2012-08-03 15:18
hi! where can get an abatour around NW where i can sell them chickens.
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Ingrid
-3 #16 Ingrid 2012-08-03 11:19
hi, i'm in makhado Limpopo 100 kms from Polokwane, I will like to start poultry farm. can you please advise where can I find Point of lay hen and where can I find chicken house and for how much?
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Lihaiwa M
-1 #15 Lihaiwa M 2012-07-13 01:54
I need 1200 point of lay chicken pullets size 16-21 weeks in polokwane,pleas e give me a quote of chickens and transport
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mzwandile
+1 #14 mzwandile 2012-06-21 13:33
hi i'm mzwandile i need to grow my poultry farmig business so i need to know what do i essentially need to keep the checkens healthy and ready to be sold????
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Regina
+1 #13 Regina 2012-06-15 12:00
Thank you, will it be possible for me to get a mentor around Pretoria ? Does agriseta assist in drawing business plan ?
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Chicken Man
+4 #12 Chicken Man 2012-06-15 10:13
Hi,
You can try http://www.agriseta.co.za for poultry training and grants.

We do not run training courses unless you buy a chicken house - then the training is for the equipment - you can try http://www.kznpi.co.za/courses.htm
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Regina
0 #11 Regina 2012-06-15 09:22
I'm interested in poultry farming, where can i attend the training i leave in Pretoria..
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