NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Poultry farmer Antony Muhati keeps some 400
broilers in Kimalat in Kajiado County, on the outskirts of
Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
To cut on costs,
Muhati, like many other farmers in the East African nation,
formulates his own feeds after buying ingredients that include
maize germ, wheat bran, soya, cotton seed cake and until
recently bone meal.
He mixes the
ingredients to come up with a composite feed that enables his
broilers gain the market weight, about 800g in a record one
Initially, he was
sourcing bone meal, the animal protein from an abattoir in the
region, but an outbreak of disease in his flock which was linked
to the ingredient saw him stop.
“I switched to
crickets, which I buy from a farmer who keeps them in this
region,” he said on Monday.
“I have been using
them for the last five months and the results are amazing
because my broilers are maturing even faster and I have never
experienced diseases like before,” said Muhati.
The move to use the
house crickets as a source of proteins in making poultry and
other livestock feeds by farmers has given a boost to the
farming of the insects in the East African nation.
crickets have found a ready market among those rearing poultry,
who buy, dry and mill them to make a feed ingredient.
“I started keeping
crickets eight months ago and I have a ready market that I am
struggling to satisfy,” said George Kariuki, a crickets farmer
in Kitengela, who supplies Muhati with the insects.
Kariuki noted that
he has a population of some 50,000 crickets at a time having
started with about 200 that he sourced from a farmer in Limuru,
Kiambu, on the outskirts of Nairobi.
that crickets have three stages of growth in their life cycle
which are egg, nymph and the adult.
“They live for about
eight weeks at most, meaning one can have up to three harvests
in three months. Females lay some 150 eggs in her lifetime,
which calls for one to provide a good environment for hatching
and growth,” explained Kariuki.
The farmer who keeps
the insects in boxes feeds them on vegetables and maize flour
He sells up to 100
kilos in a good week with Kariuki having serving some six
poultry farmers in the town.
In Kisumu, western
Kenya, farmer Paul K’Ochieng belongs to a group that rears the
insects supported by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of
Science and Technology (JOOUST).
He said that demand
for the insects is rising especially from poultry farmers
formulating their own feeds.
According to Monica
Ayieko, professor of edible insects at JOOUST, who is
popularizing the keeping of crickets in Kenya, crickets offer
quality protein for both livestock and human consumption.
She noted that the
insect are nutritious and can be used in the making of
nutritious value added products like cakes and biscuits for
humans to increase palatability.
There are a total of
561 farmers rearing the insects in groups in western Kenya,
according to her.