No benefits from exports - poultry farmers

Commercial poultry farming in Namibia does not benefit from exports, as poultry farms engage mostly in hatching small chicks, meat and egg production only for local consumption.

The Wentscher Poultry Farm in Okahandja is one of Namibia’s few commercial farms. According to the manager, Rene Werner, chicken is a very difficult livestock to keep because they get sick very easily.

“We have an average loss of 4-5% of livestock within a year cycle. Those figures, we have to obviously reinvest in, which takes a huge bite out of our profit,” Werner added.

Werner said that there is always a decrease in business from January to March, as every household is recovering financially from the festive season. However he said that after March, there is an annual steep increase in egg sales which boosts the production of eggs.

The demand for eggs also lasts till the end of the year, adding that it is more common for people to eat eggs during the winter. Werner said that at the Wentscher Poultry Farm, they have cycles were old chickens are replaced by new chickens. The process happens every 3 months and the new chickens take 1 month to be in peak production.

“Everybody eats eggs. Eggs are the cheapest form of protein and the only product with all healthy proteins. With a growing population and a growing interest by tourists who want to come visit our country, the demand for eggs rises every year,” he said.

Werner said that their eggs are sold locally, but he added that they do sell eggs to businessmen and woman in Oshikango whom then export the eggs to Angola, or sell it to clients that come shop in Namibia from Angola.

“The main volume of products are sold in Namibia, private companies, distribution companies’ private people, Pick n Pay, Spar etc.,” he said.

Another commercial poultry production farm, Kadhikwa Chicken Farm, supplies live chickens, frozen chickens, fresh chickens and eggs. The owner, Twapewa Kadhikwa, said that poultry farming in Namibia is getting there in terms of production, because the local community is starting to increase their demand for eggs.

“We can not export our meat because we have to meet the local demand first before we will be able to share our chicken products with other countries,” Werner said, adding that no one has as to yet make it business by exporting poultry products.

The farm engages in producing eggs, meat production and hatching of chicks which are used to boost the chicken production to ensure that business does not stand still.

Kadhikwa Chicken Farm mostly produce layers, although they are also farming with boilers. Chickens raised for eggs are called layers, while chickens raised for meat are called broilers.

In the 2013/2014 Namibian Agricultural Union annual report, Kallie Joone of the Namibia Poultry association said that the broiler project under the banner of Namibia Poultry Industries was fully operational. He also mentioned that the company had an advantage because of the limitation on poultry meat imports. Only 900 tons of poultry meat were allowed to be imported per month.

Joone said the egg producers also have an advantage from this limitation, as they reject laying hens which also fall within this import Act. This ensures that producers can get rid of their reject hens at a market-related price.

In the same report, Joone said that the health status of poultry in Namibia was satisfactory due to the application of bio-security measures. However, he added that veterinary services in Namibia are not satisfactory because there are no qualified poultry veterinarians in the country.

“Veterinarians from South Africa offer their services, but this is expensive and they are not always available,” he said.