Home Features Feasibility: Starting up your fish farm/poultry business

Feasibility: Starting up your fish farm/poultry business

Breeding fishes in leather fish pond

Fish farming – raising and harvesting fish for sale – can be a money maker for those who understand the trade. For a starter, N500,000 or less is enough to start off with 500 fishes and you will break even in a matter of months. This is assuming you have already a water supply source.

There are varieties of fishes available for farming, ranging from catfish, salmon, minnow to tilapia. However, for the purpose of this discussion, we shall focus on catfish, which is about the most popular and arguably the most profitable. For an aspiring fish farmer, there are invaluable resources and information to have in other to ensure one’s efforts don’t go to waste. We shall discuss each item presently.


Of course, you can’t farm fish in the desert. Or well, maybe you can, but it’s not a worthwhile effort, and will most likely be an unprofitable venture. This is to say that water supply is of key essence in fish farming.


Fishes survive on water, and for fishes in a pond, the water must be evacuated and replaced at least every three days or weekly if the fishes are still days or few weeks old and cannot therefore generate enough waste to make the water toxic.
But for already maturing ones, water must be changed frequently, which means that a borehole or a well with pumping machine must be handy. Again, you should have evacuation channel because the water is usually smelly and can pollute the environment.

The cost of sinking a borehole depends largely on location. Areas that are close to underground water like Lagos, Ogun and other parts of the South West, might range from N200, 000 to 400,000. In other areas, it could cost much more.


To start off fish farming, you need at least two fish ponds. This is to enable you sort the fishes as they grow. Inevitably, some would outgrow the others, which should then be separated according to size, otherwise, the bigger ones will not allow the smaller ones access to food.

A starter may not need to construct the standard concrete fish pond. Average size leather pond that will contain 500 fishes may cost about N60,000 to construct and will last for about six years before any patching would be required. Already made ones will cost higher, however, about N100,000 each. To start, you need to have two.

But there is also the tank pond alternative, which is about N8,000 to N12,000 each but smaller and may only be able to house 120 fishes.


Fish can be raised for four months on the average, within which period, one fish should be able to weigh up to a kilogram. Throughout the period, they must be fed at least twice a day or they end up eating one another.

Feeding 500 fishes for four months will cost around N100,000. Feeds come in varieties of 1mm, 2mm, 4mm, 6mm and 9mm and are used at various stages of growth. Prices for bags depend on size and quality. Usually, imported feed are of higher quality as they contain more vitamins, and therefore, more expensive.

The recent border closure has also helped to hike the prices. Depending on the make, and whether it’s locally made or imported, 5kg bags range from N3,500 to N8,000 while 15kg range from N6,000 to N15,000. The advantage of imported feed is that fishes grow faster with it.


The farmer will of course, have a buy the small fishes or raise at the cost of N20 or N25 each for the very young ones. Out of every 500 bought, 5% to 10% may be lost, eaten up by the others.


Ideally, there is market for fishes and selling 500 cannot be a difficult task. However, for greater profitability, the farmer might need to establish direct contact with hoteliers, owners of bars or exporters of dried fish instead of depending on vendors. One grown fish weighing a kilogram is sold between N700 and N1000.

Budget for fish farm (Rough Estimate)

Capital (fixed) expenditure.

1. Borehole/Well — N300,000
2. Standby Generator: N70,000
3. Overhead tank: N30,000
4.Pumping machine: N25,000
5.Leather Fish pond (2): N120,000
Total : N545, 000

Recurrent expenditure (500 fishes)
1.Feed: 100, 000
2.Fuel: 10,000
3.Fingerlings N12,500
Total: N122,500
Expected income:
N350, 000 at N700 each

Leather fish pond


Raising chickens for sale is another popular aspect of livestock business in Nigeria and elsewhere.

Again, there are varieties of birds that can be raised, ranging from layers, broilers, guinea fowls and so on. The two most popular, however, are layers raised for eggs and eventually sold, as well as broilers. Because layers, which must be fed for about six months before they begin to lay eggs, although could be more profitable in the long run, may not be ideal for a starter, we shall focus on broilers which are raised for nine to 10 weeks and sold.

To narrow down the discussion, we shall focus on 100 birds, which is an ideal number for the budding poultry farmer with limited capital.

IIdeally, it takes between N800 to N1,200 to buy and raise one broiler to maturity. This tells you at a once that the average cost of raising 100 is between N80,000 and N120,000. This of course does not include the cost of constructing the farm itself, which can vary widely depending on type of structure and location.

To raise 100 broilers, a 16*16 space structure is ideal. This is because broilers need a bit of space and comfort to grow optimally. We shall discuss each item needed in some detail presently.


First step is to provide housing for the birds. As pointed out earlier, for 100 broilers, 16*16 space structure is required. The farmer can subsequently expand the the building as his capacity increases.

This can be constructed with bricks, of up to four coaches, with one under the foundation. Iron or wooden pillars would be used to hold up the roof and net used to cover the rest of the structure.

Inside the structure, the farmer will then construct as small brooding house, an enclosure where the day old chicks will be kept for a number of days. This is necessary because they are still fragile and cannot adapt to the temperature of the environment. The small brooding house will be covered with polythene or any other suitable material and heat source provided. Ideally, charcoal, which should be put in an elevated position such that the chicks don’t run into it and get burnt. Lighting must also be provided. Where there is electricity, bright bulbs should be fixed with rechargeable lantern on standby.


After erecting the structure, the next things to be provided are the feeders and drinkers from where the chicks would eat and drink water. Whilst they are still in the brooding enclosure, about six plastic drinkers and feeders each would do. Each will cost about N350, totalling N2,100 for the six.

When they are out of the brooding house and in the main structure, at which point, they would have grown a bit, iron feeders and drinkers, about 10 will then be provided. This costs N400 each, which will total N4000.


Food is of course, key. How fast they would grow and the body weight they would have will depend largely on how well they are fed.

Ideally, the feed 100 broilers will eat from day old to maturity – between 9 to 10 weeks – will cost about N25,000, at N3800 per bag. The price fluctuates, however, and ranges at the moment, from N3400 and N4000, up from N2500 sold a few years or months ago.


Broilers are fragile birds that are highly prone to diseases. From day one therefore, they need to be vaccinated against diseases. This will be administered weekly or biweekly when the are more mature. Vaccines will cost about N10,000 overall.

Day old chicks:

When all else are provided, the farmer would then proceed to buy day-old broilers. This costs between N250 and N350 each. Price fluctuates depending on season. To be on the safe side, the farmer should keep N35,000 for the 100 chicks.

As noted earlier, besides the building and other capital expenditure, it would take between N80,000 and N120,000 to raise 100 broilers to maturity. At the end of which the farmer will sell each between N2500 and N3500, depending on season. During festivities, it may get to N4000. But again, like fish, it more profitable to sell directly to consumers than to middlemen.


For layers, the farmer is advised to start with as many as 2000 birds. This is because, the higher the number of birds, the lower the cost of breeding.
Drugs for layers for instance, are bought for 1000 birds, which means that if the farmer has less, he will be incurring unnecessary costs.

Day-old layers are sold at about N180 each. They are more resistant to diseases, but more capital intensive to train in the short term. They take about six months to mature fully and start laying eggs, at which point, they must have consumed a lot of feed. But in the long term, they are more profitable.

Budget for poultry (100 broilers)

Fixed expenditure:
1. Structure: N120,000 (rough estimate)
2.Feeders (both plastic and iron, 16): N6,500
3.Rechargeable lamp (2) N3,000
4.Total: 129,500

Recurrent expenditure:

1.Day-old chicks: N35,000 (for 100)
2.Feed: N25,000
3.Vaccines: N10,000
4.Others: N10,000
5.Total: N80,000

Poultry farm. Photo credit: Mully