February 1, 2023
Lower sales hit Kenya's feed companies as farmers seek alternative feeding methods
Animal feed companies in Kenya are grappling with depressed sales as farmers embrace alternative feeding techniques amid high cost of feeds.
According to the Federation of Kenya Poultry Farmers (FKPF), high costs of broiler and layer meals have impacted production.
"It is unfortunate that most farmers have stopped buying feeds and resulted to alternative feeding techniques that don't provide the essential nutrients to chickens," Kiambu Poultry Cooperative Societies manager John Njeha said.
Prices of animal feeds have been rising since 2020, attributed to the shortage of raw materials such as maize, soy and oil cakes, forcing manufacturers to increase prices.
According to the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers (AKEFEMA), soy and oil cake prices increased by more than 60% in 2021.
"The immediate impact of the rising feed prices has been losses by farmers amidst sticky output prices. As a result, farmers are cutting back production and, as a consequence, animal feed manufacturers are also being adversely affected," said AKAFEMA in a new report conducted by the Tegemeo Institute.
FKPF, through its president, Monica Wanjiru, urged the Kenyan government to consider the animal feeds sub-sector's long-term competitiveness.
"This needs to include importing semi processed products such as crushed maize, soy cake and adopting sorghum farming," Wanjiru said.
A preliminary result from feed trials conducted in Kenya show that broiler performance improved when grain sorghum was part of the feed ration. US Grain Council's (USGC) Reece Cannady, who is the manager of global trade, said that USGC is trying to expand sorghum global reach and sub-Saharan is one of the markets.
"Because sub-Saharan Africa is a rapidly growing region in terms of population and is experiencing a feed deficit, it is an ideal destination for US sorghum," he said. "Specifically related to Kenya, USGC helped facilitate two feed trials there. One of those trials was for a sorghum-based feed in broiler diets and another in layers."
United Ag, which is based in Victoria, Texas, the United States, shipped 60 tonnes of grain sorghum to a leading feed miller in Kenya, with half of the tonnage being used in the layer trial and the other half in the broiler trial.
According to Cannady, as the millers weren't familiar with working with sorghum, the USGC had instructed them on how to process it into a fine powder and make it fully digestible so there would be no whole berries that would "go straight through the bird."
Cannady added that the broiler feed trial has been completed, while the layer feed trial is wrapping up. The results are "being put into a table and into a digestible format," he said.
"In short, the results were very, very good," Cannady said of the broiler feed trial. "I haven't heard any specifics on the layer trial, but in the broiler trial, they had better results with sorghum than with their old feedstocks."
Long term competitiveness of the animal feed and livestock sectors will ultimately require competitive raw material sourcing and production.
- Capital Business