By: Vimbai Tanyanyiwa
Most times people make so many mistakes along the way which are always overlooked as non-existent just because people end up seeing the finished product never the journey. I started doing poultry 5 years ago after I had been retrenched from work and I had to push myself to find an alternative source of income that was going to keep me alive. Most people look at poultry rearing as something just so easy yet not considering a lot of factors that need to be adhered to for you to produce the best quality of chickens when the time is due.
It’s so easy for people to just say in 6 weeks (dzinenge dzaita) they will be up for harvest – but what of the mistakes and endurance that you make as you start; the casualties you endure the first awful winters before you know how to withstand the cold so as not to have a lot of the chickens dying? Chickens just like anything dear; require a lot of care and attention as they grow. But one of my first mistakes, when I started, was never accepted that as much as it is about money- passion has to drive you so you create the determination to succeed in the intended project.
I lost a lot of chickens within batches due to negligence & mismanagement & overzealous behaviour of putting my trust in employees & not being hands-on committed to the project, which I feel is not my mistake alone. Every project requires a person who monitors whoever employed so you don’t suffer losses. In looking for workers do most ever consider if the one being employed has the necessary skill or knowledge pertaining to that project or we just employ? Well, my mistake was just employing & sadly daily I would be told one or two have died, coming from a person with no remorse who felt it was ok for chickens to just die yet you trying to generate income from that & a livelihood.
Until I had to self introspect and understand that no person will put in as much concern and care into the project except you the owner who is pumping money into it so it survives. I then pushed myself to be hands-on until I noticed that it was very possible to have over 90% survival rate, not the bigger losses I was suffering before. During terrible winters it proved that the lamps were not adequate on their own but I had to come up with another technique to warm up the chickens since most were dying from the cold. That’s when I learnt from a Good Samaritan about the use of charcoal & mbaura in foul runs to help ease the crisis. But it had to be strategic since too much heat too would then kill them as well so it had to be proportional.
I had gotten to a point where I feared buying any batches in Winter for most wouldn’t survive but after that, I wasn’t scared to endure the winters as I had now learned how to fight the winter mania.
Not buying any batches in Winter meant no income & no income meant problems & stresses of accumulating bills which would, in turn, get to be difficult to settle. Another one of the many mistakes I had to make along the journey was accumulating debts & failing to pay them having to then ruin relationships I had with friends & family when I failed to honour up. Debts in any way always come up when we are in tight situations & we wish to solve them urgently but always end up creating more problems when we fail to pay them.
So I have learnt along the way to at least be content with what is there & work with what’s available.
Or forever be one to never really see the profits as every little money you get ends up being channeled to clear the debts. I am not really well organized in this area yet but I am striving to. Pressure from societal expectations and always wanting to live in the fast lane is never good for business. At times you need to make peace with the fact that; we were all given different lives & opportunities & we run different races. It’s not your duty to then try to always be in competition with friends & colleagues & family even when your budget doesn’t warrant you to.
Running a business demands discipline & control that puts you on the right path otherwise you run the risk of tarnishing your brand if one day you wake up being named & shamed for providing poor service to your clients