Lessons in Perseverance: Young chicken breeder in Guagua, Pampanga’s triumph over failure
By JAMES TABABA
Michael Castro, a graduate of Mechanical Engineering in March 2021, was challenged to look for a job due to the pandemic, which motivated him to explore alternative sources of earing income from home. Castro decided to venture into farming and considered raising chickens as a potential business opportunity. He initially raised 20 chicks with his limited capital and found the experience to be successful.
Castro’s next step was to scale up and raise a hundred more chickens, but his lack of experience and adverse weather conditions led to increased mortality rates amongst his flock. Despite this setback, Castro was not discouraged and took proactive steps to seek help from experienced farmers. He was amazed when he discovered the variety of chicken breeds available in the market.
Early farm beginning
Castro made a significant change to his farming approach after his initial attempts at raising chickens encountered setbacks. He shifted from raising 45-day chickens to a free-range system that used heritage breeds. Heritage chickens are imported breeds that have been acclimatized to the local climate and environment through years of breeding in the Philippines.
Castro discovered that heritage breeds were more productive, and resilient, and could thrive in a free-range environment without cages. By implementing this new approach to farming, Castro was able to improve the quality of his products
In May 2021, Castro decided to pursue chicken farming more seriously. He began acquiring the necessary materials and equipment to launch his own farm. This marked the establishment of Mr. Chix Farm in Guagua, Pampanga.
Mr. Chix Farm was established to provide high-quality, sustainable breeds to farmers, hobbyists, and backyard raisers. The farm specializes in raising chickens, turkeys, and ducks, taking care of them from breeding to hatching their eggs and raising their chicks until they are ready to be sold.
Castro understands the importance of maintaining the health and well-being of his breeders. He ensures that they receive proper nutrition and medical care, which leads to healthy chicks and satisfied clients. In addition, the farm has implemented strict biosecurity measures to ensure the safety and health of their breeders. Aside from the precautions taken to maintain a safe and healthy environment, the farm also offers a designated releasing area where clients can pick up their orders.
A thriving business
Castro takes advantage of social media in reaching customers both near and far. By leveraging social media platforms, he is able to showcase the quality of his breeder chicken to a wider audience. His business plan and goal-setting helped him remain focused on growing his business. In the early days, he sold eggs to keep the business running, until they were able to purchase their first incubator. Now, they have launched a hatchery, “Itlog Mo, Pisain Ko” (Your egg, let me hatch it), which also helps others in their locality by providing incubation services. The profits from the hatchery pay for their monthly electric dues.
The farm offers a wide variety of breeds to choose from, including Rhode Island Red, Black Australorp, Barred Plymouth Rock, Brahma Chicken, Oriental Fowls, Orpingtons, Ayam Cemani, Ayam Ketawa, Cochin Balls, Silkies, and several duck and turkey breeds, among others. The farm caters to clients nationwide, with pick-up options for those in nearby locations and delivery options via Pet Transport or airlines for clients in Visayas and Mindanao. The pet transport service also provides all the necessary requirements such as blood tests to ensure that the process is legal, safe and secure.
Running the business was never easy for Castro. “I remember struggling in keeping my mortality low. It was really a challenge for me before but through experience, we learned. I started by improving their facility and providing them proper food and nutrition,” he said.
Castro admits that they still experience losses, but they continue to learn from their mistakes and strive for continuous improvement. He believes that in farming, learning never stops, especially if you are new in the business.
Goals and ambitions
Castro is proud of what he has established right now, which is the result of all their learning and hard work. All their breeders undergo proper selection, and their produce is selected before release, ensuring that their clients will only get what’s best. Castro values integrity above all, and he aspires to inspire, motivate, and help as many people as possible through their products. Their vision is for every household to raise their own chicken, any breed to their liking, believing that if every household has their chicken, there will be no hunger.
This May 2023, Mr. Chix Farm will be celebrating its second anniversary, and Castro is looking forward to more projects. He is currently working on their farm expansion, Mr. Chix Aviary, for a wider range of poultry animals. His goal is to help the local farmers, breeders, and backyard raisers to get the best quality they can have.
Castro will continue upgrading his farm for better and more sustainable breeding, and he wants to inspire and encourage the young generations that farming is also for millennials. “farming is also for millennials. If I can do it, you can do it too,” he said.
Chicken farming might be the business for you
According to Castro, free-range chickens produce eggs daily, eliminating the need to purchase expensive eggs for breakfast. Additionally, the eggs laid by free-range chickens are healthier than those laid by caged layers. Castro has not bought eggs since he started raising chickens. Furthermore, the eggs laid by free-range chickens can be hatched, and the chicks can either be sold or raised for meat production. Castro believes that the continuous production of eggs translates to more income.
Castro firmly believes that chicken farming is a profitable business venture. He cites Microsoft-founder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates, who once said, “There is no investment that has a return percentage anything like being able to breed a chicken.” According to him, purchasing chickens once would result in a constant supply of offspring for the next 2-3 years of their lives, making it a great investment.
Among all the breeds on Mr. Chix Farm, the Black Australorp is the best seller. “These lovely black and shiny green feathered birds still hold the title for the chicken with the most number of eggs per year,” Castro said. He also added that they are beginner-friendly, easy to care for, beautiful, and fast growers, making them very popular among chicken raisers.
Castro is grateful to all the people who supported him from the start, even to those who discouraged him, as they made him strive harder to succeed in his business. As he shares his story, he encourages aspiring farmers not to be afraid to start, “either you started small or big, it doesn’t matter, what’s important is you have started something,” he said. He believes that farming is fun and can be learned, and he hopes that more people will be inspired to start their own farms.
Castro highly recommends chicken farming as a beginner’s business, especially for millennials who are looking for a source of income. He believes that raising chickens can reduce stress while providing an enjoyable experience. According to him, “Masaya ka na, may kita ka pa!” (You’re happy and earning money!) You won’t be needing a huge capital to start here, what you need is patience and perseverance while starting. Sooner or later you will see the harvest.”
For beginners who are starting their journey of raising chickens, Castro offers simple advice: stay patient and enjoy the process. He emphasizes the importance of maintaining the health of the birds, suggesting regular cleaning of their pens, providing necessary vitamins and vaccines, and ensuring their overall well-being. As a result, the chickens will be healthier and produce higher-quality eggs, leading to a more successful farming operation. Castro reminds aspiring chicken farmers to, “take care of them, and they will take care of you too.”
In the next article, Michael Castro will share his insights about the highly sought-after dual-purpose chicken breeds that have made their mark as bestsellers and why these breeds have become so popular among poultry farmers and enthusiasts.
Photo courtesy of Mr. Chix Farm