Is keeping quail really good business?

Over the Christmas holidays, my friend and I visited a farm owned by his uncle in Kiserian. His uncle rears chicken and quails with the quail business being a success for him (that’s what he told me). From the look of it, he was actually doing well with those small birds. For him he started late last year and was having more than 500 birds which would be ready to hatch by next week.

He had invested in the Jua kali incubators and through his own innovation created a very amazing artificial breeder for the newly hatched quails. I asked him why he sacrificed his new chicken rearing business to go wild with the quails. The answer was as usual, “Mayai yake iko kwa market” (its eggs are on high demand).  

According to the rumors going around the city, the quail eggs are getting an undivided attention from the cream of the society, the upper class lot who own Kenya. This class frequents the five star hotels and that’s where the demand for the wild eggs is being traced.

The eggs are rumoured to be very nutritious. Some sources indicate that protein levels in quail eggs are 14% compared to 11% in chicken eggs. When it comes to the vitamin B1 levels, the quails are untouchable. They contain 140% Vitamin B1 as compared to the chicken’s 50%. The list of benefits is endless making the quail egg nutritionally speaking, more preferably than that of chicken.

Every farmer involved in quail business is spreading such gospel and many new farmers are jumping right into it without hesitation. This has made existing farmers very rich with their eggs being booked early in advance; talk of 2 to 3 weeks in advance by the newbies who wish to make a quick killing financially.

After a long talk with our host in Kiserian, I finally got the picture. A farmer, the one who introduced the hype to the market made abnormal profits from the existing demand which is very small and undefined (my opinion). This alerted the neighbouring farmer and needless to say, the recent ‘quail farming a hot business for farmers’ headlines became a daily dose on papers and the internet. An egg is being sold at over Ksh 70 with a single bird going for almost Ksh 400. With a single quail bird having an egg laying capacity of 250 eggs per year and some farmers stocking over 500 birds, the returns are beyond imaginations. You can try the math if you like.

Looking at the simple economic principles of supply and demand, the initial farmers are creating demand through hyped advertisements which are making the wealth hungry citizen to invest in the quail business for quick cash in the near future. So, at the end of it all, its farmers selling amongst themselves and given the reproduction rate of those birds, sooner or later, every farmer will be stocking them with very little options for sale. I have dined at some of the middle class hotels and honestly speaking, I haven’t seen quail egg delicacies on the menu.

The question now remains, how long do you think it’s going to take before the merry-go-round amongst farmers bursts into flames? I only see one way out. We find a way to incorporate the quail products on the menu of a common Mwananchi. With reduced prices( to as low as those of chicken eggs) , farmers can pull Kenyans to maybe admire the wild eggs  especially the middle class who are of late minding their eating habits due to health concerns(ask the herbal guys and they will tell you magic of it all).

So, do you think quail farming is good business?

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