Namib Poultry Industries (Pty) Ltd brings us a reason “to count our chickens before they hatch” through its very lucrative chicken production project in Klein Okapuka Farm, as they plan to satisfy Namibia’s demand for chicken meat.

NPI, established in 2010 with specific purpose of producing chicken for meat, usually known as broilers, aims to fully meet Namibia’s local demand for chicken, which will see local chicken products become available in outlets throughout the country (as from the end of last month).

Namibians have become accustomed to buying frozen imported chicken throughout the years but with such a state-of-the-art chicken farm near completion, Namibians will soon be able to also purchase fresh chicken off the shelves, in selected areas.

In total, Namibians consume about 250 000 broilers per week and an estimated 2 000 tonnes of poultry products is exported to Namibia of which the majority is distributed through retail outlets.

NPI comes aboard with a mission to “manufacture poultry products of outstanding quality at the lowest possible cost and be the first choice supplier in Namibia and the Sadc region”.

NPI general manager, Gys White, who also manages the poultry project says, “We already have breeders on the ground and they have already started laying eggs for the hatchery”.

The first eggs were placed for setting on 26 February this year, with the first day-old chicks hatching 21 days later on 19 March. NPI is in the process of importing fertile eggs until its own laying farm is in full production and able to supply the full demand of its hatchery.

Progress has been made with the construction of the broiler houses with the first farms having received day-old broiler chicks on the 19th of March, which grew up in five weeks to supply the abattoir with its first birds for slaughter during the week ending on 21 April this year.

“The first 100 000 batch of chickens were ready for slaughter during the week ending on 21st April. As from mid-May, a total of 250,000 broilers have been slaughtered per week,” says White. Production was expected to reach its peak by mid last month.

“The market is ready for our products and we are going to use local distributors to distribute our frozen products,” says White.

NPI is currently training 300 people while about 500 jobs will be created through this project, with an average of 2000 people expected to benefit indirectly from the poultry project, taking the household approach.

Accommodation for the farm management will be provided at the farm but most workers will be transported to and from work daily. 50% of the current employees come from Windhoek and the other 50% from Okahandja as the farm is situated in between the two towns.

“Our aim is yet to receive the Hazard Analysis Critical Point (HACCP) and the ISO 22000 accreditation,” states White. The HACCP and the ISO22000 are the highest international standards for chicken meat production. HACCP is the systematic preventative approach to food safety whereas ISO22000 specifies requirements for a food safety management system where an organisation in the food chain needs to demonstrate its ability to control food safety hazards.

This means Namibian consumers can rest assured that NPI chicken meat will be healthy, nutritious, knowing that NPI meets sanitation and hygiene, environmental, as well as the chicken well-being and health requirements, amongst other things.

Every eight weeks, NPI purchases day-old chicks from Cobb in South Africa which is called the “parent stock”.

The day-old chicks are placed in the rearing sites for up to the age of 22 weeks. At this age, the chicks are transferred to the laying houses and remain in the laying houses for up to 60 to 64 weeks. The laying houses are fitted with nest boxes where the hens lay eggs.

The eggs are then collected from the nest boxes and transferred to the hatchery. The eggs are graded and then placed in an egg setter. The eggs stay in the setter for 18 days. The setter imitates the hens’ movement and behaviour during this period. The chicks hatch on the 21st day and are then sorted, vaccinated and transferred to the seven sites with broiler houses, which are environmentally controlled. During their period in the broiler house, the chicks are fed and well looked after until day 35 when the chickens are transferred to the abattoir for slaughter.

“We focus on in-house training, though we use outside consultancy for training on production as well as abattoir skills,” he says.

Talking about business benefits, White says, “We have contracted a black-owned security company on the farm called Black Security and other small businesses we are yet to outsource include catering, laundry and cleaning services.”

In future, we might look into enticing local contract growers to grow broilers for the company when NPI production expands.

Namibians have long awaited the local production of chicken and it is a big moment in the local manufacturing industry to start producing its own chicken,” concludes White. PF