My name is Matthias Dramwi, a resident of Minia village, Adjumani Town Council in Adjumani District. I am a veterinary doctor and a poultry farmer. I started this enterprise in 2007 after graduating from Makerere University. This is because I did not want to look for a job but apply the knowledge and skills I had acquired to do farming.
At first, I wanted to engage in fruit farming, however this required a large piece of land. In addition, the weather conditions in the area does not favour fruits though they are marketable. This is how I settled on poultry since the market for birds and eggs is also readily available. Besides, it can be done on a small piece of land.
But despite having passion for farming, my biggest challenge was how to get the capital to start. So, I went to Adjumani Town Council Sacco, where I secured a loan of Shs1m, which I used to buy 200 layers.
I bought the chicks from Biyinzinka poultry farm at Shs2,000 each. I also used part of the loan to buy things like feeders and drinkers. They were at Shs4,000. I set up the birds in a house, which belonged to my father so I did not spend any money on construction of the structure.
Since there is no feed factory in my area, I had to buy the feeds from Kampala, which proved to be quite expensive as I had to pay Shs15,000 for transport on top of buying a 70-kilogramme sack of feed at Shs70,000.
Because I already had the skills, the start was not hard. I knew how to look after the birds as well as when and how to vaccinate them.
It is crucial to know when to vaccinate the birds because if it is not done at the right time, a farmer is likely to lose the entire brood. Since these were layers, I had to vaccinate them against diseases like Gumboro, fowl pox ,Newcastle and bronchitis once every week in the first five weeks.
Later, this reduces to three times every three months for Newcastle disease.
For Newcastle and Gumboro, there is no treatment if they attack the birds so the only way of controlling them is by vaccinating the birds before they are attacked by these diseases. At six months, the birds started laying eggs.
They laid eggs for one and a half years and during this period, I earned about Shs11m from selling eggs and off-layers.I used part of this money to service the loan and to pay for the inputs. I remained with about Shs6m.
As a fresh graduate from university, it was good money. I decided to continue looking after layers but at the same time, add broilers since they can be sold at only three months or less.
For a beginning, I started with 250 broilers but I lost 20 chicks. After three months, I sold 230 birds each at Shs20,000 to hotels in South Sudan.
I also ventured into rearing of cross-breeds and Kuroilers. Unlike the layers and broilers, the crosses and Kuroilers look much like local breeds, the reason they are liked by consumers because their meat is not very soft.
Kuroilers also mature quickly and are ready for sale at three months. I sold each at Shs18,000 and cross-breeds at Shs20,000. From the 200 Kuroilers, I earned Shs3.6m. I used part of the proceeds to construct another structure to house my poultry unit.
To expand, I recently secured a Shs5m loan from the Sacco, which I want to use to buy 1,000 layers. I hope to get at least 37 trays of eggs a day which will earn me Shs260,000 a day if I sell a tray at a minimum of Shs7,000.
In 2011, I was employed as a Naads coordinator for Adjumani Town Council. When the programme was restructured, I was dropped but this did not worry me since my poultry enterprise gives me money every day. Besides poultry farming, I also treat animals and other livestock for farmers in the area.
I sell most of the eggs and chicken in Adjumani, Gulu and South Sudan. It is worth noting that I get better prices for my products in South Sudan.
Some of my customers come for eggs and birds at my farm but when there is a high supply of them, I look for market myself.
The biggest challenge is the high cost of feeds given that there is little maize grown here. Plus, there are no maize mills in Adjumani, which forces me to buy feeds from Gulu and Kampala. This cuts on my profits. I buy 70kg of feeds at Shs70,000 in Kampala and pay Shs15,000 for transport up to Adjumani.
Secondly, transporting chicks from Kampala to Adjumani is another challenge I face. This is because bus operators no longer want to transport chicks in their buses and I have to pay more in transport fares for them to accept to carry my feed and chicks. Some chicks are sometimes of poor quality and mixed up with some growing faster than others. Another challenge is the high cost of vaccinating diseases like Newcastle, Gumboro and fowl pox.
I have bought a half an acre of land in Adjumani, where I have built a house for my parents as a sign of gratitude to them.
Secondly, this business has provided me with employment. Even when I was fired I did not worry a lot because I had a source of livelihood.
I plan to establish a big poultry unit of about 8,000 birds. My target is to supply eggs worth Shs2m every month. This would, however, require me to buy more land where I will put up the structures to house my project.
I also want to grow my own maize so that I can mix feeds myself. This would cut my costs of production, hence more profits.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor