One day in 2019 Emmanuel Gumede was on his cell phone watching YouTube videos when he stumbled upon a video about the back-yard broiler business. He was captivated by what he saw.
He did some digging and the more he read, the more fascinated he became with the industry. “I fell in love with the idea and did not waste time,” he says. The following day he woke up, got dressed and rushed to go buy his first ten chicks with the R500 he had on him.
“I bought whatever was left. I wasn’t looking for any specific number of chicks as I was still willing to learn and gain experience.” Gumede only had the Hampshire breed to choose from, so he bought each chick for R15. With the change he had left he added a drinker and a feeder to his list and called it a day.
He started growing his chicks in his back yard in Upper Buffelsdraai in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal. “Growing those chicks to their full-size cost me R1500,” he says. More than a year later Gumede is the proud owner of 700 broiler chickens and trades under the name Khondlo Poultry Farming.
He also sells roasted chicken as a side hustle to generate revenue for his enterprise.
Gumede says becoming a poultry farmer was not an easy feat. He had to learn by trial and error because he had no previous background. His mother, Ernestine, had kept chickens for home consumption where he grew up on the KZN south coast near Illovo. He was still too young to pay much attention or to grasp what was going on.
“Yoh! I had a lot of challenges that were caused by the lack of knowledge. Challenges like not knowing that chicks need a brooder (a smaller space) before moving them into their normal coop because of the heating systems,” Gumede exclaims.
Gumede says he learnt that bonding and spending time with his birds would help him understand their behaviour so he could take care of them as best as he could.
Farming needs a lot of time, says Gumede.
“Farming needs your undivided attention, farming needs you there all the time and when you can’t do that then it becomes very difficult to run your business.”
Gumede explains that reading and watching other poultry farmers’ videos online helps him and inspires him daily, but you also need enthusiasm.
“In this sector you have to have passion to succeed. It requires more of you, which forces you to spend some quality time with your chickens,” he says.
Gumede matriculated from Trenance Park Secondary School in Winklespruit, near Illovo.
“I went straight to work because I couldn’t get a place in any university as I applied late. I was told to wait for the second semester, but couldn’t sit idle. So, I started looking for a job and from then I have been working in the call centre industry,” he says.
Gumede has two daughters, 6-year old Nicole and 8-year old Luyanda with his 23-year-old fiancé, Zimbili Khwela.
“The business can sustain me and my family as it is already doing that. I plan and I execute, I make sure I meet my sales target that I set for myself in that cycle,” he says.
Gumede says his future goals are to expand the farm and expand his chicken variety so that the customers who visit the Khondlo Poultry Farm can have options.
“My future goal is to be the biggest young farmer coming from Durban,” he says resolutely.