Nairobi News

GeneralHustleMust ReadNewsWhat's Hot

How black soldier flies are elevating the flavour of chicken meat

By Sammy Waweru December 13th, 2023 2 min read

Nestled in the serene Golf View Estate in Gatanga Sub-County, Murang’a, Margaret and Ken Macharia operate the expansive Sky Blue Farmlands, a diversified venture spanning poultry, dairy, milk value addition, fish farming, and a homestead on just under half an acre of land.

The Macharias ventured into poultry farming in 1990 as a supplementary income source. However, three years ago, the escalating cost of animal feed began to pose a significant challenge to their poultry business.

Before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Margaret reminisces that their cages were nearly always full, accommodating up to 3,600 birds at a time.

Regrettably, due to the soaring feed prices, they were compelled to reduce their flock to around 500 birds. Faced with these challenges, Margaret and Ken decided to explore alternative approaches.

Through online research and training at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), they discovered that the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) could be the solution to cutting down operating costs.

BSF, scientifically known as Hermetia illucens, has gained popularity as a sustainable choice for feeding chickens. These insects feed on recycled organic waste, which is then converted into chicken feed due to its high protein content.

Also read: Chicken, pizza, burger most ordered for fast-food online in Nairobi

After attending a one-day training session costing them only Sh5,000, the Macharias incorporated BSF into their farming activities.

They modified three fish ponds for insect rearing, using cost-effective materials like plastic water jerry cans and readily available food waste as feed attractants.

Opting for plastic containers instead of commercial insect trays, they managed to keep costs minimal.

Additionally, they purchased BSF larvae from JKUAT at Sh1,000 for 10 kilos each. The farm handles its own reproduction and breeding of BSF, ensuring a consistent source of protein for their poultry.

In addition to BSF, the Macharias cultivate azolla as a plant protein source, serving as a substitute for expensive alternatives like soya and omena. The life cycle of a BSF is 45 days, encompassing egg laying, larvae, pupae, and adult stages.

“We feed 80 per cent of the flies to chickens, while the remaining 20 per cent we take back to the cages for reproduction,” explains Margaret.

Those who have tasted the meat of chickens raised on BSF attest that they are just delicious. The innovative approach adopted by the Macharias not only addresses the challenges posed by rising feed costs but also contributes to a sustainable and eco-friendly farming model.