Annette Sesera: Ambitious Chicken Rearing Business Left Me Flat Broke, Depressed

Annette Sesera: Ambitious Chicken Rearing Business Almost Left Me Flat Broke, Depressed
Annette Sesera is not giving up on her project even after suffering losses Image/Facebook

I was cleaning house recently and came across a counter book from back in 2013. Those big books with hard black covers and they weigh about the weight of a small baby!

This is where I used to record stuff about my chicken rearing business. Yes, I have reared broiler chicken and it was not a walk in the park to say the least.

I started the chicken rearing business after doing some superficial research on what it entails. I say superficial because research never really gives you all the practical day to day details of any business.

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Purchasing building materials

So I bought some building materials, got someone to build the chicken coop for me. It was a fairly large house by the way as my intention was to rear at least 1,000 at a go! After building the structure, we laid down sawdust and covered all the gaping holes since apparently broilers do well in warm places.

I proceeded to get a handyman to help with the day to day running of my project as I did the sourcing of the market for the chicken. His name was Chumba. He was very eager to start. His enthusiasm was infectious, and I knew I had found the right man for the job. All I had to do was ensure he had enough feed for the chicken and I could concentrate on my actual job that paid the bills as I grow my chicken business, with his help of course.

The first batch we bought was of 500 broilers and we of course bought feeds for them as indicated in the manual that we were given. Thinking that Chumba was going to take care of business without overly consulting me was a pipe dream! His calls to my phone started almost immediately we dropped the chicks and left – having set everything up as per the instructions given. 

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Clueless worker

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The number of calls I got that night were alarming! Something at the back of my mind started whispering – maybe this was not the right decision. But it was too late, the amount of cash already committed to the project would not allow me to go back. 

After my morning meetings in the office, I headed straight to the farm and read Chumba the riot act! His relentless calls needed to stop and he would only call me in case of an emergency. In any case, I had made arrangements with a vet nearby to assist in case of anything and paid for some 10 more bags of feed in the agrovet which he could pick should he run out of feeds for the chicks. I had also stocked his small house with food and had given him gas to use for cooking and a few utensils so really, I did not understand his need to call me all the time.

Fast forward, those things grow up fast!! And the more they grow, the more they eat. It was a nightmare to say the least. Anytime I saw Chumba calling, my heart would just sink. They were now consuming upwards of 6 bags of feed per day. At 5 weeks, they were fully grown and ready for slaughter, but I didn’t have the foresight to have bought a freezer ahead of time

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Making Losses

We looked for someone to come and slaughter and together with a friend I had collected some orders in a town hotel and Nairobi West so we took them straight from slaughter to delivery. Needless to say, since I was disposing them in a hurry, I got a really bad deal. The loss burnt a very big hole in my pocket, but we live and learn, right?

For my next batch I bought a smaller number – 300 chicks and I had also purchased a freezer. By that time, I had also secured a prime location where I opened up a small eatery and my hottest selling item was the chicken. This is a story for another day, but learning and growing is what makes life interesting.

Part Two-Business Picks

So the eatery did very well and the combination of the chicken from the farm and having created a market for the chicken to some extent was amazing! Orders were flying in and out and it looked like we were finally turning a profit.

Whatever we did not use for the eatery, we sold to hotels at a good price as we had now mastered the art of negotiations. Also, because we were not rearing too big a quantity, the margins were sustainable and storage was not an issue.

All was well until the chicken started dying mysteriously of illnesses which could not be explained. We lost about 200 at a go and that was a huge loss especially given how expensive the feeds were!

On the other hand, the location of the eatery was not primarily designed for cooking. There was no hood and the space was quite small actually. I did most of the food prep in my house and took it for the final cooking at the eatery. We had a grill outside that was used to barbecue the meats in the evening and people would buy this on their way home from work or even call and place orders in advance.

Because of the restrictions of space and design, it was easy to make an assumption that the eatery would not work. At least that is what the owner of the premises- who also had a proper cafe within the same location thought. However, this was not the case, and surprisingly for her, all the traffic to her cafe trickled to a stop.


Enter the sabotage phase: By now I had three employees who worked in shifts. Phone calls from them kept coming in all the time. Harassment from County council askaris daily despite having all the correct paper work to do the job. They were being arrested daily and finally one by one they started quitting. The county also locked the premises for lack of a hood for cooking despite assurances that we were cooking outside and/ in my home for certain foods and the premises was only a finishing kitchen.

To add salt to the injury, the premise owner refused to extend our lease and infact made a refund of the rent that we had paid in advance. We later came to learn that she was responsible for the county askaris daily harassment as she made calls every single day with bogus reports and even paid them to come out and harass my staff.

On the other hand, the chicken rearing business started dwindling as well. Influx of chicken in the market made the cost of production much higher than the profit margins. Eventually, I made an executive decision to cease production as we were bleeding money at this point and eating away at what we hard worked so hard to achieve.

Will I attempt the chicken rearing business again? Maybe, who knows. Either way, it was a rollercoaster for sure and I learnt a lot from it. 

As usual, my religion is kindness. I choose to remain optimistic.

Signed, Empress Good Deeds.

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