New hatchery provides boon for Limpopo chicken farmers

Clive Tigere. Picture by Peter Ndele.

Clive Tigere. Picture by Peter Ndele.

Published Oct 23, 2022


Johannesburg - Chicken production in Limpopo got a serious boost yesterday with the official opening of the Northroost Hatchery in Makhado/Louis Trichardt.

A modern new facility that can produce 208 000 quality day-old-chicks per week, Northroost is a joint venture between local Makhado entrepreneur Clive Tigere, of KC Hatchery, Country Bird Holdings (CBH) and Bushvalley Chicken.

“This is a game changer for broiler farmers in Limpopo who have never before had access to such consistent volumes of high quality day-old chicks,” said Tigere at the opening. “The local economy will benefit, more jobs can be created and the informal market can grow.”

A million day-old chicks hatched at Northroost have already been distributed to the poultry producers of Limpopo. Picture by PETER NDELE.

CBH’s Brendon de Boer explains the partnership: “CBH supplies the fertilised Arbor Acre eggs, Clive oversees the hatching process, and Bushvalley takes a significant percentage of the day-old chicks.”

He adds that the modern new facility was built and kitted out with an investment of R56 milllion. “Clive qualified for an IDC grant and we had started the application process over year ago, but government funding always take time and we didn’t want to delay.

“So between CBH and Bushvalley we decided to find the bridge financing so that we could get going with construction.” Tigere’s grant eventually came through earlier this month.

The dream team who collaborated to make Northroost Hatchery a reality include Cliff Rasoesoe (DTIC), Leon de Villiers (Bushvalley), Clive Tigere, Imameleng Mothebe (DTIC), Brendon de Boer (CEO, CBH), Ian Preece (CEO, Bushvalley) and Kieron Futter (CBH). Picture by PETER NDELE.

Northroost’s first batch of fertilised eggs were set on 24 August and hatched on 14 September, setting in motion a cycle in which two batches a week are hatched, several days apart.

So far, Tigere has maintained an excellent hatch ratio of over 90%, and by yesterday’s grand opening, the tally stood on over a million day-old chicks that have been distributed into the broiler market of Limpopo.

The joint venture was the happy result of a meeting five years ago, when Tigere had approached the South African Poultry Association for help with a research project.

Tigere had given up a corporate job at McKinsey’s to focus on his fledgling poultry business back home in Makhado. He had noted the high incidence of dumped chicken available in Limpopo, and the negative effect it had been having on the informal poultry industry, with local farmers not being able to compete with the dumped imports were flooding the market.

He was introduced to the CEO of Country Bird Holdings, who in turn, contacted his colleagues at Tzaneen-based Bushvalley to introduce them to the young entrepreneur in their hood.

Finding enough fertilised eggs of reliable quality was a constant battle for Tigere, and when CBH offered to supply as many as he needed, he jumped at the chance. He was not deterred by the fact that he had to collect the eggs in Lichtenburg in the North West, and made the 16-hour round trip from Machado every week.

Northroost Hatchery from above. Supplied image.

“This steady supply of high-quality eggs completely changed our business,” says Tigere. “Having better eggs meant a more predictable, higher hatch rate, and now KC Hatchery can commit to clients with a steady supply of chicks, allowing them to have a business all year round.”

By 2020, KC Hatchery was selling around 19 000 day-old chicks a week, and Tigere had started discussing a more formal arrangement with CBH and Bushvalley.

De Boer had been looking around for opportunities to further the company’s transformation agenda in line with the poultry masterplan, and KC Hatchery was ticking all the boxes. The joint venture was eventually formalised.

“To transform the poultry industry as the masterplan has called for, we believe that more projects such as this one is needed. It came together, because there was collaboration between government, integrated producers and local entrepreneurial talent,” says De Boer.

“There is a challenge in finding those solid projects with real potential in outlying areas, but they are out there, and working with the IDC to identify them is a way to open new markets and grow the industry.

“I hope we can find more solid projects such as Northroost, all along the poultry value chain, from hatcheries to processing, where local businesspeople with potential can be upskilled and supported.”

The new hatchery was constructed with expansion in mind, and the infrastructure will easily be adapted in future to double its current capacity. State-of-the-art hatchery equipment was imported, water reservoirs were built and generators installed to keep the systems going in the event of power outages.

“Everything in the facility speaks of quality, and global standards are adhered to,” says Tigere. He has been working round the clock since Northroost came online, to ensure he has buyers for every one of the approximately 100 000 chicks that are hatched every week.

“It has been scary at times, especially when a regular client suddenly cuts their order by half and you wonder where to with the extra 10 000 chicks! But we’re finding our groove with these new, bigger volumes, and fortunately Bushvalley has the capacity to take extra chicks if we have a crisis.”

For Tzaneen-based Bushvalley, the proximity to Northroost adds a factor of convenience , and also enables them to provide daily administrative and other support to Tigere.

CEO Ian Preece says: “Northroost ticks all the boxes for us. It is a good business opportunity, it allows us to contribute to industry transformation and it fills a real gap for poultry producers of all sizes in Limpopo. Even as an integrated producer with more resources, we benefit from having a consistent supply of high-quality day-old chicks on our doorstep.”

For Tigere and his local farmer clients, Northroost represents a bright new future.

“Farmers from Limpopo can now raise high-quality chicks efficiently, without the high transport costs that are generally incurred when bringing chicks in from hundreds of kilometres away,” he says.

“As their costs go down, they can become more competitive, grow their businesses, and create more jobs, and we will see this positive response circling further and further.

“The informal poultry industry tends to fly under the radar, but it represents so much opportunity for growth and wealth creation in many areas of the country where there are few other job opportunities. I hope that our example can serve as a model that government could apply to make this happen for other entrepreneurs too, so that transformation can happen organically,” says Tigere.

The Saturday Star