NAIROBI, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The beautiful and silver-colored machine in a room at a corner in Calvin Githae's house in Kitengela, south of Kenya's capital Nairobi, resembles a small refrigerator.
But it is until Githae opens it that one realizes what it is an incubator he uses to hatch chicks for sale.
On the machine's four shelves, Githae has neatly lined up some 250 fertilized eggs for hatching.
The made-in-China gadget, which he bought from a dealer in Nairobi, has enabled him to venture into chicks selling business.
"Its capacity is 300 eggs but I hardly put in all those eggs. I hatch between 200 and 250 eggs at a go," said the farmer in a recent interview.
He sells the chicks from 100 Kenyan shillings (0.96 U.S. dollars) to 4.6 dollars, with day-olds going for the lowest price and four-months-old the highest, earning in a good month over 400 dollars from the business.
Initially, the farmer kept layers for eggs or broilers for meat but acquisition of the Chinese-made incubator has enabled him to expand into the chicks' business, selling Kienyeji and Kuroiler birds, which are improved chicken breeds.
"I shopped around for various incubators and came across the ones made in China. There were several others, for instance, those made in Britain but they were sold on order," he said.
Before buying the gadgets sourced from China, Githae had two options, that is either to import directly from the Asian nation or buy locally.
"I settled on the later because the seller offered a one-year warranty, the price was affordable and there was after-sale service and training," he said, noting he bought the incubator at 576 dollars.
A survey in Nairobi showed dealers are selling the gadgets from the smallest capacity of 48 eggs that go for 200 dollars to larger ones of 2,000 eggs at 1,500 dollars.
Engoho Kuku Farmer, one of the distributors of the Chinese-made incubators, sells them across the east African nation.
According to the firm, which has a branch in Nairobi and Bungoma in western Kenya, the incubators are automatic, thus making it easier for farmers to control temperature, humidity and turn eggs.
The firm guarantees farmers a 98 percent hatch rate and a warranty of one-year, an indication of confidence in the gadgets, with an official saying they have had a relationship with the Chinese firm supplying them the gadgets from 2013.
"I have used the Chinese-made incubator and so far, so good," said farmer Bernard Kariuki.
He has a 500-egg capacity gadget that he uses to hatch chicks and sell as demand for improved chicken breeds that are hardy, fast-maturing and disease-resistant surges in Kenya amid climate change.
Fred Odour, a poultry specialist at agro consultancy Growth Point, noted that the Chinese-made incubators have dominated the market due to affordability and they are readily available.
"But a good incubator must be complemented by good quality eggs. The eggs must be fertilized and be not more than 10-days-old to increase hatchability rate," he said.