Quick facts: They tip the scales at an average of 3.5kg; almost every household has one on peyi day (social grants’ payment day); and they were bred in Tshezi Village by Mam’ Maduma and Mongezi – They are the chickens of the Tshezi chicken farming enterprise.

After months of construction, training, endless preparatory planning and dissapointment, the farmers finally produced mature chickens for the market – and the good news is that all the 71 chickens were sold out. It wasn’t all smooth-sailing though for the farmers as they came face-to-face with some pitfalls. In the second week of the chicks’ lives, heavy rains pounded the village, flooding the brood and resulting in the death of 17 chicks. However the farmers showed resilience and moved on despite the heavy losses.

The broiler chickens are raised from one day old to a maturity age of eight weeks. Breeding chickens for sale is hard work that requires careful planning, good management techniques, dedication and commitment.

The one day old chicks

One has to wake up in the middle of the night to check that the temperature in the chicks’ house is optimal. It is also the farmer’s responsibility to clean the chicken house and replace the dirty material on the floor of the chicken houses after every five days.

The chicks at four weeks

The work doesn’t end there as, on maturity, the chickens have to be loaded into heavy crates and taken to the pay points as eraly morning as possible.

The business of selling chickens is a lucrative one in the rural areas. With almost all rural households being recipients of one form of grant or another, buying a live chicken is a must for households on social grants’ pay day. The Tshezi chicken farmers thus made their first foray into the competitive chicken business and came out with their tails up. Although they did not manage to sell all the 71 chickens on the day, they made their presence felt and they managed to make sales of about 20 chickens (at R85 each).

It doesn’t matter how you carry it home

And everyone had a chicken to take home

With the mature chickens eating more than 10kg of feed per day, keeping them for a day longer than scheduled erodes into enterprise profits. To counter this potentially business-killing problem, the chicken farmers went on an aggressive marketing venture and managed to sell the remaining fifty chickens in a week.

Future prospects for the chicken farming venture are positive and, with the commitment shown by Mam’ Maduma, Mongezi and Tata Mbangasini , the enterprise is well positioned to grow and make a difference in the entrepreneurs’ livelihoods.