I turn empty plastic jerry cans into money-minting brooders: Busia innovator

Cornelius Obonyo displays a brooder he has made out of plastic jerrycans at his home in Burumba, Busia County.

While most people would dispose of jerrycans after using the oil in them or use them to store water, a farmer in Burumba, Busia County, has found a better use for them.

Cornelius Obonyo, a poultry farmer, uses the jerrycans to make plastic brooders.

Obonyo says when he started keeping poultry, he had one modern brooder, which could not accommodate all the birds. He decided to make a wooden brooder, but after a short while he opted for the plastic ones.

“Cleaning the wooden brooder was hectic and the cost of timber was high. That is when I decided to start making brooders out of jerrycans,” he says.

Today, Obonyo not only has enough brooders for his poultry, but also makes money by selling them to his neighbours.

He says he sells a brooder with a capacity for 50 chicks at Sh5,000. This takes him a week and four 20-litre and five 10-litre jerrycans to make. He says people love his brooders because they do not rust, are poor conductors of heat and are easy to wash.


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“When chicks get in contact with each other inside the brooder, they generate heat and this enhances their survival,” says Obonyo.

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He buys jerrycans from shops in the area, then cuts and fits them manually.

“I would like to make plastic brooders in large-scale, but cutting and fitting the jerrycans is never easy and that is why it takes me days to make one,” he says.

The 54-year-old says he has been rearing poultry since 1983 immediately after he completed his A-level. Currently, he has over 80 geese, turkeys, chickens and doves.

He has a solar lamp which he charges during the day and uses at night to provide light for the poultry. He says he has established a large market for his birds and has a wide range of clients, including local leaders such as MPs and MCAs.

“I receive calls from people who want geese and I deliver to them,” Obonyo says. “When I started poultry farming, one hen could hatch over 20 chicks but almost all of them would die because I had no enough brooders for them. Now, I have stopped the loss with plastic brooders.”


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He advises that before touching a brooder, one should clean their hands to avoid contamination. He admits that maintenance of birds is not easy.

“There is a time frame within which you have to vaccinate them and should you forget, you risk losing your birds to diseases,” says the farmer.

Now he has started making photo frames from the remains of the plastics that he cuts to make the brooders.

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