Animal feed:Preserving animals for better meat and profit
Livestock and poultry farming are essential for providing both white and red meat, as well as, diary products and eggs. It is quite a lucrative business, which creates avenues for some other businesses to thrive. One of such is the animal feeds production, needed to feed different kinds of animals, especially for small farm owners, who have no means of producing their own.
And though there are some cottage livestock farmers, who prefer feeding their animals with leftovers, rather than giving them special feeds to make them healthy, those with bigger farms know the importance of animal feeds that have been specially prepared to enable animals grow well.
Titus Usim, a Lagos-based animal feed producer explained that animals, like human beings, need good food to attain maximum growth, reproduce better and bring in good returns for the owners.
He said: “All the owner needs to do is identify the particular feed suitable for the birds or livestock and provide such for them. One of the benefits of animal feeds is that they are fortified with lots of essential minerals and vitamins, which enable animals to grow and remain healthy. All these, the animals cannot get, if allowed to roam and feed around the neighbouhood.
“I make some of the feeds from whole wheat offal, corn grit, millet or guinea corn chaff, palm kernel cake and others, which are found locally and the returns has been encouraging. I sell close to 20 bags on weekly basis and make between N150, 000 and N200, 000 monthly, aside settling my overheads.”
Are there certain things one needs to know before going into the business? Steve Nosa, another animal feed producer, replied in the affirmative, stressing that training and research are the twin ingredients that a new entrant should have to make a headway in the business. He explained that research would enable one come up with his/her own formula, as well as, the category of animals to cater for, whether fish, bird, goat, rabbit or snails, among others.
“One needs proper training on how to handle the animals and source for their food. Then, you have to come up with a formula, depending on the area of specialisation or where you want to focus upon. As the animals differ one from the other, so do their feed formulas. For instance, chicken feeds are different from that of fish or cattle feeds and even the production process. So, to come up with a good formula, one has to understand the nutritional requirements of the category of animals he/she wants to produce for.
“Aside understanding the common nutritional needs of these animals, such as, vitamins, protein, fibre and carbohydrate, one must also know how to properly blend them, by mixing the right proportion of each of the nutrients, so that the feed is safe and balanced. This is one of the reasons training is key.
“All animal farmers, whether cottage or large scale are in business to make profit. So, they usually prefer feeds that would make their animals healthy and fat, because this would enable them sell to buyers at higher price. And this why farmers are prepared to go the extra mile to get feeds that would make their animals fat and healthy. Knowing this, I always come out with the best to satisfy them,” he said.
On his part, Kofi Atteh said one does not need huge amount to go into the business. According to him, one can give formulas to companies that are into feed production, as these usually have required equipment to blend and then package. He, however, cautioned that care must be taken, when doing this, because some companies can go ahead to modify these formulas and then claim them as theirs, if proper business contract and agreement were not signed.
“Outside this, the business is a very lucrative one, as the number of investors going into livestock, poultry and fishery is on the increase,” he said. “The market is quite huge and keeps growing. But aside this, the products are also not seasonal, which is another bonus. I make between N80, 000 and N150, 000 monthly, producing chicken feeds. I sell throughout the season, including festive periods.”
Listing some of the necessary equipment to include grinders (wet and dry), mixers (wet/dry), pelleters, steam boiler, cooker, freezer, crumbler, elevators, conveyors, sifter, weighing scales, sealers and bag sewers and packaging bags, Elike Erick, a fish feeds producer, disclosed that some of them can be fabricated locally. He explained that the type of equipment required depends on the type of feeds he/she intends to produce. He said one can buy fairly used equipment for a start, and that with N20, 000 to N50, 000 some of the equipment could be fabricated locally to meet one’s need.
He said: “It is always good to get the right equipment, just as it is also proper to get the right mix for the feeds. If your feed is to be grated or ground into powder form, but you are unable to achieve that, the quality of the product will be drastically reduced, thereby, affecting the market. So, one has to use the right equipment for mixing and blending.
“As we emphasise on the use of specific machine, we also consider the packaging. One should be able to package his/her products in such a way that different categories of customers are attracted and the products also affordable. In doing this, it is best to have different sizes: small sizes for people who want to sample, medium for those who cannot afford big size and the big bags for people who need to stock up,” he said.One of the ways any new entrant can stay in the business, according to Lawal Adekoya, a chicken feed producer, is to persevere.
“When you have come up with the right feed formula, you can start buying ingredients based on your need. You can then blend the formula for marketing. You have to keep repeating the cycle until you have gathered enough funds to buy the necessary equipment needed to start your own feed production business,” he explained.
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