Poultry production is adjudged one of the most lucrative, reliable and engaged investment areas of Nigeria’s agriculture mainly on the premise that there is a huge market demand without adequate production capacity to match it. In fact, the country continues to experience record scale of importation and smuggling despite growing interest in raising products.
But to make the most of the opportunity of the shortfall, particularly in peak seasons of demand, it’s imperative that investors position their poultry produce well enough to maximise profit, poultry experts say.
They observe that breeders can struggle to break even, even in the euphoria of peak period demand such as Easter, Christmas, Salah or New Year, when they fail to properly map out sales strategies.
While price is a major attraction for sales, profit margin could be enhanced by minimising the cost that goes into ensuring good weight, size and health of chicken sold at strategic locations.
Higher sales are undoubtedly a given during these periods as a seller can be certain that consumers who cannot afford costlier livestock products such as goat, ram or cow could easily opt for a broiler, priced at N2,500 for instance.
However, in the two months preceding any festive period, prices of day-old chicks usually soar to as much N450 each along with feeding materials. Those who try mitigate that cost by buying at a less triggered period are also have their profit margin threatened by the cost feeding and maintaining good dietary level. And at the end of the day, many consumers want cheap chickens that won’t strain their pockets.
As a result, Ememandu Nnabuike, the chief executive officer at Agropoultry advised that such investors should target markets that will appreciate the effort that goes into production than open markets where they can be priced out of profit.
Solomon Oluwatimilehin, another poultry expert laid emphasis on calculating the numbers of months it will be reared.
“The problem is that feed prices have risen. The day-old chicks are also now expensive. To feed a day old chicken to the ripe age stage for sale has become increasingly difficult because the cost sometimes makes it non-competitive for sale,” the farmer.
“The marketing becomes difficult, that people resort to other cheaper options like fish.”
However, there are other means investors can hedge their products for better returns including value addition.
The market for day-old chickens is a thriving one many breeders seek to cut the stress of brooding broilers from a day old till early maturity – as a strategy to mitigate loss. The interest in raising them begins after the chickens are covered in feathers.
“As a broiler farmer, you can target this group of people and sell to them. All you need to do is to raise your broiler chicks from a day old to 3 weeks old, depending on what your market wants. Broilers in this category are sold at the rate of N600-700 per bird in Nigeria,” the agency said.
This is the category that dominates the Nigerian poultry. Many poultry farmers raise their broilers until 6 weeks or more before offering to consumers. This naturally comes with a higher profit than infant sale but a higher cost is equally incurred from health and nutritional maintenance.
BusinessDay checks indicate that nutritional strategies can push up profitability, largely from a slight reduction in feed consumption which is by far the major contributor to the total cost of production. When any factor reduces the welfare in the flock, the nutritional requirement increases, and the increase is met either by increased nutrient intake or decreased production. Either case could trigger higher cost of production and by extension a reduction in the profit. Hence, there are incentives to reduce the cost of production.
Proper dietary care can increase profitability in the chicken flock by at least 20 percent, productivity and liveability 10 percent. Nutritional interventions such as dietary protein supply can reduce stress by supplying required amino acids and dietary fibre.
The link between bird welfare and productivity lies in the fact that birds require energy for activities that they perform. Because of the constraint of the energy budget, the energy could be diverted to useful (production) or wasteful (stress prevention or treatment) activities. Birds exposed to poorer welfare will use more of their dietary energy to cope with their stressful condition and ultimately have less energy for productive purposes.
Slaughter and sell
Apart from selling your broilers when they are young or mature, you can slaughter, dress and package them for the consumers. While there are many who avoid slaughtering live animals like chickens, and some do not have the time to dress them. Doing this for them by selling dressed meat means increased profit margin.
“This is where frozen broiler chicken comes in. Doing this requires experience, hygienic practices, and government approval. That is to say, it is a venture that is quite expensive. But, if you have the capital, it is lucrative,” he said.