Start a business from chicken feathers

QUANG NAM – Failing to collect chicken feathers to sell, Mr. Nguyen Ha Thien tried to turn them into organic fertilizer, generating revenue of 200 million VND per month.

At the end of November, the facility producing chicken feathers into organic fertilizer of Mr. Thien, 31 years old, in the area planned for an industrial cluster in Duy Nghia commune, Duy Xuyen district, had four workers operating machinery. The factory is designed to be closed, with an odor treatment system.

Nguyen Ha Thien once lost money but did not give up to produce fertilizer from chicken feathers.  Photo: Dac Thanh
Nguyen Ha Thien next to a pile of newly purchased chicken feathers to produce organic fertilizer. Photo: Dac Thanh

Born in Duy Phuoc commune, Duy Xuyen district, after finishing 12th grade, Mr. Thien followed the family business to open a clothing shop and pub in Hoi An city. The job gives him a good income, but he is not satisfied and wants to find a new way to do business.

In 2021, knowing that Can Tho was buying chicken feathers to export to China, Thien became the focal point to buy poultry feathers in the Central region to dry and sell for 8 million VND a ton. Every month he sells about 15 tons of chicken feathers. After three months, the trader forced the price to 5 million VND per ton. It was no longer profitable so he stopped.

Because he had signed a contract with the owner of the poultry slaughterhouse, Thien had to buy chicken feathers and go to the owner of the kumquat garden in Hoi An to resell them. Chicken feathers contain protein, calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, and nitrogen, helping plants grow well, especially ornamental kumquats sold during Tet. However, directly fertilizing chicken feathers will produce bacteria, chicken mites, and bad odors.

“Why not turn chicken feathers into organic fertilizer, limiting the disadvantages compared to direct fertilization?”, Thien wondered.

To test, he dried chicken feathers and hired a mechanic to design a dryer and grinder system for nearly 600 million VND. But drying chicken feathers at high temperatures will produce stinky biogas, affecting the surrounding area. After drying and grinding, granular chicken feathers cannot be compressed into pellets.

Chicken feathers mixed with rice bran, rice husk, and probiotics incubated for 30-50 days will be dried and put into a small grinder.  Photo: Dac Thanh
Chicken feathers mixed with rice bran, rice husk, and probiotics are incubated for 30-50 days to decompose, then dried and put into a grinder. Photo: Dac Thanh

All of the self-made machinery could only get a few parts, the rest Thien had to sell for scrap metal, a loss of about 500 million VND, losing all capital. Relatives and friends advised him to stop and avoid falling into debt, because “what is easy to do will not come to you”.

But Mr. Thien was not discouraged. “As long as you’re breathing, you’re still alive, clothing shops and pubs still provide income,” he explained about borrowing from banks and relatives to pursue the production of organic fertilizer from chicken feathers.

Seeing farmers mix manure with rice husks and rice bran powder, fertilize them and then fertilize the plants, Mr. Thien tried to do the same. Take the chicken feathers to drain, then mix with rice husks, rice bran and probiotics. Through many trials with different ratios of rice husk, bran, and yeast, he finally found his own formula.

Chicken feathers account for 70%, the remaining rice husk, rice bran, probiotics mixed well and incubated for 30-50 days will decompose, odor reduced by up to 80% compared to drying. The chicken feather mixture is allowed to dry, then put into a fine grinder and compressed into pellets. Experimenting with fertilizing plants, organic chicken feather fertilizer helps plants grow well and yield outstanding yields.

Fertilizing chicken feathers also stimulates earthworm growth and loosens the soil. If this type is sprayed on the ground, the smell will still remain and will disappear after about 4 hours. To fertilize plants, it is necessary to dig up the soil, spread fertilizer and then cover it, Mr. Thien said.

Chicken feather manure pellets cost from 10,000-22,000 VND.  Photo: Dac Thanh
Chicken feather manure pellets sell for 10,000-22,000 VND/kg. Photo: Dac Thanh

Because the facility is located in a residential area, there is a bad smell that has been reported by residents. Mr. Thien was forced to relocate his facility to Duy Nghia commune, where the industrial cluster was planned and located far from residential areas. He invested more than 2.5 billion VND in a new facility with a closed corrugated iron house system and odor treatment with activated carbon.

From August 2023, the facility operates stably, purchasing about 1.7 tons of poultry feathers every day from more than 30 slaughterhouses in Da Nang and Quang Nam cities. After composting and production, each ton of fresh fur produces about 400 kg of organic fertilizer.

Each month the facility sells about 30 tons of organic chicken feather manure to the central and southern provinces, priced at 10,000-22,000 VND/kg, with revenue of 200 million VND. Minus expenses, Thien earns about 30 million VND per month. The facility is creating jobs for four people, earning 5-7 million VND a month.

“My wish is to expand production scale, but the facility is currently only rented short-term. Hopefully in the future, when the industrial cluster is formed, the government will lease the land long-term,” Thien said.

Ms. Le Thanh Nga, owner of Lo Gach Cu Farm, in Duy Vinh commune, Duy Xuyen district, said she bought chicken feather manure from Mr. Thien to test it on a vegetable bed and compare it with other vegetable beds using manure. As a result, the vegetable bed using chicken feather manure has a faster germination rate, greener vegetables, and especially more loose soil than the other beds. “I bought chicken feather fertilizer to fertilize 500 square meters of vegetables. The price is reasonable, the fertilizer is good for both plants and soil,” she said.

Currently cultivating 2 hectares of purple rice, next season, Ms. Nga plans to use organic chicken feather fertilizer on a portion of the area as a control for the field fertilized with manure. If suitable for rice, she will replace manure. Because when applying manure, you have to buy it and then compost it to decompose, which is laborious.

($1=24,000 VND)
Photo,Video: Internet