What best thing would you wish to happen to you in your early 30’s? Well despite the normal expectations with most of us, things were different, but with better yields for then 31-year-old Caleb Karuga. Mr. Karuga, an ex-TV journalist at K24 Media house, lost his job 5 years ago and decided to get into Kienyeji chicken farming. Fast forward to today, the former TV journalist has grown his venture and runs a successful poultry farm that houses thousands of chicken.
How it all started: The birth of Wendy Farm
Like every other startup venture, Caleb started small by leasing a one-acre farm in Kikuyu, chose a catchy farm name and got the balls rolling. He named his farm Wendy Farm. He founded Wendy Farm to rear poultry for sale with a focus on Kienyeji chicken, quails, and guinea fowls. His market is currently focused around Nyeri and Laikipia, with an expansion strategy to cover the coastal regions. Caleb is strategic and has divided his farm into portions to do other farming activities. These activities are aimed at increasing farm revenue streams while also providing food. He rears dairy goats and cows on an eight of an acre mainly focusing on zero-grazing to maximize on space. He grows butternut, strawberry, sweet potatoes and sunflowers on the rest of the farm.
No journey is easy and agriculture is not easy as many people think. Like a baby growing, Caleb tried to walk and fell down many times. He took these failures as lessons and forged on. The challenges ravaged him for 3 years until he finally gained ground.
Meet Caleb today and he will tell you how he purchased 200 pigs and abandoned the venture due to poor market research. This was one of the first challenges that edged him closer towards success in Kienyeji chicken farming. He soldiered on and bought two hens and a cock from a neighbour then gradually increased the flock all the way to 200 birds. Unfortunately, Caleb had little knowledge of poultry vaccination, as a result, he all his birds within two months.
Focused and determined to make it in the poultry business, Caleb edged on and bought 500 day-old chicks from Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Institute. However, it wasn’t easy yet, some of his rogue employees sold the birds in his absence. This act did not give him any reason to give up. By this time, he had made up his mind to push on until he made it. He pushed his limits and stocked 1,500 additional Kienyeji chicks.
To maximize his profits, Caleb realized he could make three times his current income from eggs and meat if he sold day-old chicks. He sells chicks hatched the old fashioned way.
“A day-old chick retails at Ksh.100 while a Kienyeji egg retails at Ksh 15 – Ksh 20. For the full-grown indigenous chicken; it retails at around Ksh 800 while the broilers at Ksh 270-Sh 300. Well, from the small mathematics it is clear that the Kienyeji chicken is more rewarding,” narrates Mr. Karuga.
Although the Kienyeji chicken takes longer to mature, Caleb settled on them as the cost of feeding was lower and resistant to diseases compared to other poultry breeds.
Caleb also offers poultry consultancy services through Wendy farms is proud to have successfully trained over 1,200 people.
Some of the main challenges Caleb faced when he was starting out are;
- Poor egg production caused by cheaper feeds.
- Poor knowledge of poultry diseases and prevention strategies.
- Theft from employees.
- Poor market research.
From Caleb’s story, the clear theme is never giving up.