A 30-year-old mother, Suraya Bawa, who has converted her old building into a poultry house for the rearing of guinea fowl chicks, commonly called keets, is making significant strides in the poultry industry.
Her love to rear poultry started while she was growing up. After she got married, she began rearing her own guinea fowls chicks with just 20 eggs with the concentration on hatching keets because of the ready market.
Mrs. Bawa hails from Tishiegu, a suburb of Tamale in the Northern region of Ghana where rearing of keets has become a male-dominated activity but she has broken the barrier for hatching keets commercially for 18 years.
“I remember starting with only 20 guinea fowl eggs. When my chickens started laying eggs, I removed the chicken eggs and replaced them with guinea fowl eggs so that the chickens could help hatch the keets. ” She noted.
According to Mrs. Bawa, hatching of the keets (eggs) was tedious and required a lot of work. Upon realising that she was struggling, her husband, Mr. Bawa decided to support by learning how to make incubators. The incubators have now made it easier to keep eggs at the right temperature, which is critical for hatching keets. Because of the incubators, the number of keets started to increase.
With the incubator, Mrs. Bawa can now hold up to 1,000 eggs, but on average hatches between 500 and 700 keets. She said when people bring eggs to her, she selects the good ones, and making sure they have no cracks and do not look old. She places them in the incubator and maintains the temperature between 35 and 37 degrees. For each egg that hatches a keet, the original owner of the egg pays her one Ghana cedi ($0.18 US).
After a week in the incubator, Mrs. Bawa uses candle light to look inside the eggs. Those that look clear are infertile, while those with a dark spot are fertile and are kept in the incubator. She keeps the eggs warm in the incubator until they begin to hatch in 28 to 30 days. Then she takes the keets to a separate room where she cares for them while waiting for buyers. She sells that keets for three Ghanaian cedi ($0.53 US) apiece.
She was not very successful at first because she could not get the temperature right and paid little attention to keeping the keets warm. In addition, she did not separate cracked and spoilt eggs from the incubator. She added that she has no formal training, but with hard work and support from veterinarian, she hatches up to 2,000 eggs each week.
“When people saw plenty of keets in my house, they asked if they could bring their eggs for me to hatch and that is how I went into commercial hatching. “Hatching keets is not rocket science for farmers who are rearing other kinds of poultry. All a farmer needs to start is eggs.” She stated.
Mrs. Bawa is ready to teach interested young women in the Northern Region how to hatch and rear keets because she believed it is rewarding as it has helped her support her family over the years.
“I make about 12,000 Ghanaian cedi ($2,110 US) a year from hatching keets and is able to pay her children’s school fees if her husband does not have enough money. I also supports my parents and siblings when they need help. She adds, “That makes me responsible.” She said happily.
Source: Farm Radio Int. www.farmradio.org