What you need to know:
- To keep quail, one needs to first obtain a license from the Kenya Wildlife Service authorising them to keep the birds
- While a chicken egg sells for between Sh15 and Sh20 in the shops, a quail egg retails at Sh70
Farmers in Nakuru are abandoning chicken rearing in favour of keeping quail that is proving to be more lucrative.
Due to the rising price of chicken feeds, poultry farmers say quails are less costly to rear while the demand for them in the market is steadily rising.
A group of farmers at Barnabas in Lanet area in Nakuru town have even formed a cooperative society to market their birds.
“We started off with only 15 farmers, but our group has now expanded. We have more than 50 members who are keeping the quails and many more are set to join us,” Ms Elizabeth Nyambura, a group member, said.
“A quail chick eats about 50g of feed every day, but an ordinary chick consumes more than twice that amount,” she said.
The cost of feed is not helping matters as a 70kg bag of chicken mash that was selling for Sh4,000 early this year is now going for between Sh4,500 and Sh5,000. A 50kg bag is retailing for between Sh3,000 and Sh3,500.
Ms Nyambura added that quail farmers start enjoying the fruits of their labour after two weeks as the hatched chicks can be sold at between Sh400 and Sh500. The main market for them is the farmers who want to start their own venture.
But to keep quail, one needs to first obtain a license from the Kenya Wildlife Service authorising them to keep the birds.
NOT DOMESTIC ANIMALS
KWS Senior Warden in charge of Utilisation and Monitoring in Mountain, East and North areas Paul Opiyo said the birds are not domestic animals, “and anybody keeping them without the knowledge of KWS is doing an illegal business and is flouting KWS rules and regulation and must be arrested,” he said. KWS has also increased the annual license fee from Sh500 to Sh1,500 due to the demand for the licenses.
“The demand for the quail birds is very high as many businessmen in Nairobi are placing orders, and at times we are unable to meet their demand,” Ms Nyambura said.
While a chicken egg sells for between Sh15 and Sh20 in the shops, a quail egg retails at Sh70; this exorbitant price could be attributed to the fact that the eggs are rare, and few people keep the birds.
“Some farmers with large number of quail birds are capable of selling up to 40 eggs per day and that translate to Sh2,800 every day,” said Ms Nyambura.
A grown quail fetches between Sh900 and Sh1,200.
Nairobi has attracted a huge number of clients as the business started in the city where high-end hotels now specialise in the product.
But towns like Nakuru and Eldoret are now also embracing the new venture.
Keeping quail requires substantial investment as the cheapest incubator that has a capacity of 661 eggs costs Sh84,000. They are imported from China; the cost of a chicken incubator runs from Sh15,000 to Sh20,000.
Farmers must also observe strict feeding diet with enough supplements including vitamins and proteins which make the birds grow bigger and faster. Most farmers believe quail eggs are rich in vitamins, proteins and antioxidants and are useful in the treatment of arthritis, diabetes, ulcers, hypertension, skin allergies among other ailments.
But according to a nutritionist at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital in Nakuru town, Ms Emmy Keitany, quail eggs are not special.
“There is no tested or scientific research so far to prove that eggs of a quail treats ailments such arthritis and hypertension,” said Ms Keitany.
Ms Keitany also dismissed claims that quail eggs improve the CD4 cell count of HIV-positive patients.