post

Swiftlet nests farming – Part 1

A male swiftlet in the midst of constructing it's nest with it's interwoven saliva

A male swiftlet is seen here in the midst of constructing its nest with its interwoven strands of saliva. Please note that unauthorized usage and blatant image theft of all photographs in this blog will be subject to legal prosecution.

My family ventured into the swiftlet farming business about 3 to 4 years ago as sort of an experiment. We started off by constructing a purpose-built 2-storey building specially to house the swiftlet nests in our fruit orchard. During that period there were not many people who were willing to take the risk of constructing the swiftlet farm on agriculture land because most swiftlet were found around town and cities like Johor Baru, Muar, Tangkak, Melaka, Ipoh, Penang, etc.

It is easier to convert existing buildings like empty shop houses, abandoned cinemas or low rental-yield buildings in city center for the purpose of swiftlet farming. However with the mushrooming of these swiftlet house came the issues of environmental cleanliness, bird related diseases and noise pollution. In the long run there is a possibility that the government might clamp down or introduce legislation to regulate these potential lucrative business, especially in city center and in area designated for heritage preservation and tourist promotion.

Therefore, we believe that swiftlet farming in agriculture land away from town and cities and in rural area are the new direction that we should consider for the future of this business. However swiftlet farming on agricultural land has it’s own intricacies and problems too. First and foremost, the potential investors need to consider the location of the land, the suitability of the surroundings (e.g. type of crops, influence of river/lake, etc.), direction of entrance and the expertise of the contractors and consultants.

Now let’s be realistic and consider what we can expect from swiftlet farming venture:

  1. Realistic payback period: 3 to 4 years for swiftlet farming on agriculture land (2-3 years for city and suburban area). The average growth rate for this industry (swiftlet farming) in Malaysia is estimated to be around 35% for the last 5 years. Currently there are probably around 30,000 swiftlet farms in Malaysia with many more coming up every day. (Please note that realistic payback period is when you could expect the venture to start producing sustainable income to offset your cost of investment. It is not a measure when you can expect to get your payback of investment. Payback of investment period will depend on a combination of expertise, location, upfront investment/loan and a little bit of luck.)
  2. For a 2-storey average size building, usually the operators could realistically expect to harvest about 1 to 3 kilogram of bird’s nest per month. Some bigger premises could harvest in access of 10kg a month. Assuming unprocessed premium white bird’s nest could fetch RM5,000 per kg, an average size venture could possible expect about RM5,000 to RM15,000 per month in gross revenue after 2 to 3 years. Large and established premises regularly raked in more than RM50,000 per month. But as expected not many people will tell you their actual income. With the current craze in this sector, any fool can see that this is a lucrative business as world wide demand currently outstrip the supply and hence the high price.
  3. Processed white edible bird’s nests could fetch around RM20,000 per kg. Bigger outfit could consider the labor intensive work of cleaning, processing and drying the raw nests for a bigger return.
  4. For every successful swiftlet farm, there are at least 2 that are not giving any return that is profitable or viable. Therefore it is crucial that the investors select the right locations and the right consultant when undertaking this type of project. If failure is not an option, it’s best to put your money in FD instead.
  5. High Property appreciation return from successful swiftlet farm could be expected after the 2nd or 3rd year of business. It is not uncommon for swiftlet farm operators to cash out when they attain 200% to 300% payback from their actual property investments. We have friends/customers who invested RM500,000 on startup cost and were duly offered more than RM1 million even before the first anniversary of the venture. Now that’s is a profitable business! But you have to remember, with every success there are 2 failures.
  6. Benefits of self consumption. If you are one of those well off family that spend a substantial amount of money on bird’s nests every month, than by having a farm that supply for your own consumption does make sense and could save you a boatload of money.
  7. Sale by piece meal. Some farmers regularly sell their unprocessed/raw bird’s nest direct to the end users. The usual market price is RM50 for a perfect c-shape piece and RM40 for the corner piece. This is another way to improve on your profitability as it is much more profitable than selling by weight. End users who buy raw usually believe that its cleaner and healthier to self-processed their own bird’s nests as some commercial processors use special industrial chemical and bleach to whiten their end products.

Comments

  1. Could you show pictures of your family swiftlet farm.

  2. nokenzo,
    I will post some photos later when I add my part 2 or part 3. Thanks for your interest.

    DG

  3. Hi,
    I find your article a very good read indeed. Any news when part 2 is coming up?
    Cheers.

    james

  4. i need help about information where can i sell swiftlet nest and about the price.
    i’m from indonesia, and i have my own farm.
    i wanna try 2 sell my processed nest at malaysia.
    is there anyone who i can cooperate with ?

    thanks.

  5. At the moment we sell the raw and processed swiftlet nest directly to the consumer as we have an established regular customer base. Any excesses were sold to overseas buyer. We do purchase raw, unprocessed nest from new and up-and-coming swiftlet farms that we help to build through our consultancy services.

    However, we do not buy processed swiftlet nest as we are unable to determine the quality control and whether any chemical are used in their preparation. My suggestion to you is to contact the retail outlets directly and assure them of your product quality. Alternatively you can sell them to the wholesaler who have established links to overseas buyer in Hong Kong and China.

    • Michelle says:

      From your blog knowing that your family is constructing swiftlet farm at Melaka. I am from Melaka too and we want to find processed swiftlet nest and wish to supply direct to China. I had cousin who’s is Malaysian but work permanent at China Shenzhen to come out this idea. Since now in China the swiftlet nest are very very varuable and is a good profit business. Now my cousin is in Malaysia for 1 month long holidays and are finding are there any body can supply us. So if you don’t mind may reply me.

    • Hi guys,

      Actually it is good new and old nest farmers attend the bird nest training course so that you know everything about your industry. That way, you can get higher return.
      I know of one bird nest training course. You can check it out at http://www.twelvespring.com.my or try to find the company Twelve Spring Sdn Bhd.

    • hello davie,can you tell me what is the address or tel no for oversea buyer or wholesell outlet ?tq

  6. For more information on Swiftlet Farming, consultancy and inquiry on sale of bird’s nest, you are welcome to check out the following website:

    http://swiftletdesignhouse.cabanova.com/

  7. i m university Malaya student frm estate management, i would like get more information frm u abt the birds nests inform, now i m doing thesis about the risking investment in birds nests house, can u share any information? i think tis will help me about in my thesis, beside that i can find a suitable valuation method to value birds nests house in valuation field because tis is a new industrial in malaysia. thanks..

    • Sam,
      Thank you for you interest in my blog. We do use our own valuation method (Gan’s swiftlet valuation) when looking at potential investment or when we evaluate our own bird’s nest house for future expansion or JV. I am writing a part 4 which will cover my opinion and how we go about doing our own research and valuation. Stay tuned.

  8. Hey guys,

    I am from Melaka. I am quite impressed with the swiftlet farming business and interested to give it a try. However, I could not find any swiftlet farming equipments shops or stores in Melaka. May I know anybody knows where could we search for those equipments (tweeter, calling CD, humidifiers, and so on) in Melaka?
    Hope to hear from you guys.

    Thanks
    Allan

    • Allan,
      Personally, I do not know of any specialized swiftlet farming stores in Melaka. However some of the items required could be sourced from general hardware stores and electrical equipment outlets. You could also purchase some of the items from Malaysian-based web stores and I believe Mr. Google could help you out in that area.

      Nevertheless I still believe you can get the most comprehensive swiftlet farming equipment from Jakarta, Indonesia. Do check them out.

      • Davie,

        Thank you so much for the information and your help. I will try to search online and go to general stores for all these items.

  9. Dear allan,

    how is your progress to look for your bird nest farm?

    me also from melaka. intend to build one too.

    call me 0166659468

  10. Dear Allan,

    Kindly guide me regard any instrument needed for bird farm?

    thanks

    • Lex,
      You have to be specific with your questions before anyone can help you out. For example what instruments do you require? and for what purposes? If you do not have any idea at all about Swiftlet farming do check out some swiftlet blogs and books that are available in the market now. Once you have some understanding and budget, you should decide whether you want to do it alone or engage a consultant for your project. Do a systematic planning and talk to the right people and you could at least reduce your risk of failure.

      Davie

  11. Hi Davie, would like to hear your comments on following items :
    1. We have agricultural land in sungai siput perak, currently having chicken open-house coops (20,000 birds) – our land surrounded by oil palm trees, and in hilly ground
    2. every day we can see lot of swiftlet birds fly over to eat insect or flies.

    – i was thinking to engage consultant to do site survey, to determine whether these birds were swiftlet.
    – If yes , to construct swiftlet building, small scale for a start. – not sure where to start from… will appreciate your advise

    • Krishna,
      A1: You have quite an ideal location for swiftlet farming, plenty of insects and surrounded by palm trees. As far as I know, swiftlet do not feast on flies. Plenty of flies do not mean plenty of swiftlet. I have seen swiftlet house built in huge commercial chicken farms with no swiftlet. So beware.

      A2: You can engage an experienced swiftlet consultant to do a swiftlet sound test in your area. Based on the sound test they could “guesstimate” the current population of swiftlet in your area. However the sound test does not provide any guarantee that you will be successful in attracting them into your bird’s condo. It’s just to determine the right type of swiftlet and as a justification tool for your investment. As I said, you will still need some luck to be successful.

      Good luck!

      • Hi Davie, appcreciate your quick reply. Wow !!! “guesstimate” … such a powerfull word, I guess. Do you have any contact in Perak, which I may enggage with, to do the sound test. Just to paint some rossy picture … I have noticed that a few yards from our land, there are few small hills (so called cave), thats the place were these birds are flying from. And we have seen this white colour bird nest on the wall. But as you’ve mentioned, it is still not guaranteed wheter they will be attracted to occupy/rent the artificial building that we going to build in our farm. I can forsee “disaster” if no proper planning being laid out. Or a solid income ….otherwise. Thanks a LOT for you “precious time”, or shall i say “your GeNerous reply”

        • I am sorry. I do not have any contacts for you in Perak. Just do a search using Google and you will find many people who may be able to help you.

  12. dr. sateri says:

    hi
    i,m veterinarian and i want to bring up the swiftlet in iran but i dont have information, please help me
    thanks
    0098936 942 4884
    hs_vet@yahoo.com
    info@cgk.ir

    • Dr. Sateri,
      Although I am no expert, as far as I know, swiftlet (edible swiftlet nests) are mainly found in South Asia and mostly confined to tropical and sub-tropical regions. I really have no information on swiftlet availability in Iran. I hope anyone with information here might be able to help Dr. Sateri in his quest to bring up swiftlet in Iran. 🙂

  13. Hi Daive

    I’m glad that you have started this website. Thanks alot!

    Hi Krishna

    Myself also realized how attractive is this business after i pay visit to of my client. Something trigger on my mind to try out whether it is suitable or not for me to venture into this business. Since my family owns small oil palm land in my hometown, i started to do so many researches and look for consultant etc. During my holiday, i brought few guys to view my place and i received very positive response. Then i finalized one contractor which sounds genuine hence he has been in this business since 1990s. Besides build and construct the birdhouse, he does the processing and sells the Bird Nest drink. If you eager to build the house, I can provide his contact num for you’re to discuss further.

    rgds
    komathi

    • Komathi,
      You are most welcome.

      There’s no better advertising than satisfied customer giving positive feedback of their contractor. List the name of your contractor here, if you like. The battle to a successful bird’s nest business is already half won with an experienced and honest contractor.

  14. Daniel Chen says:

    Dear Davie ,

    Thanks for willing to share a lot of your knowledges and experiences about the bird house , it is a very good article that helping many beginners or existing brid house farmers .

    Once again thanks for your generously ,i looking forward to read more on your part 2,3,4,5,6…..100.

    Cheers ,
    Daniel Chen

  15. mohd sofi says:

    It is thru” there is shrtage of meranti merah (that is to be used as plank) in sarawak especially in area of Sarike, Roban dan Pusa?. if Yes how to get it.

  16. hello davie,can u tell me what is the address or tel no for oveasea buyer ?tq

  17. I am from Singapore, and I have a land in Miri, Sarawak. I wish to take up a course on birdnest farming. Any such courses available in English? Courses in Malaysia or Indonesia are usually conducted in Melayu…

    If got, please contact me at cammi@greatworksolutions.com

    Thank you.

  18. Dear Davie, inspiring to read your blog. I am planning to build a swift house and came accross some consultants and contractors offering to build swift house using alternative building materials other than normal concrete and brick walls which are cheaper. Is it adviseable to use alternative building materials and is it the trend now?

    • It’s advisable to build your swift house using concrete and brick walls as concrete tend to keep the temperature low within the house. Also swift house are usually a form of long term investment and a brick house is geared more for long term. Since you did not mention your alternative materials, I couldn’t really advise you on that. If cost is the main reason of using the alternative materials, don’t waste your time and money, just put your money in FD.

  19. It’s interesting to know that my images in this blog has been copied and used by quite a number of sites around the world. Especially interesting were the blatant copyright infringement by the Chinese sites. They even Photoshopped away my copyright name and replaced it with their sites’ name. I wonder what else they would do for the sake of information. Below are a few sites which could teach us a thing or two about bird’s nest and copyright infringement.

    http://www.sbar.com.cn/caipu/90905/
    http://zhongyi.ifeng.com/news/zyzs/20106/45005.shtml
    http://wdict.net/word/swiftlet/
    http://www.hsge.cn/402
    http://pics.picmv.com/%E5%94%BE%E6%B6%B2/12/

  20. Mr. Mao says:

    i am in Cambodia Country i got land at the countryside and want to build bird nest house but don have money …so we can share each other….the reason that i hope here have many swiftlet fly one the sky everyday cos sea and mountain there.

    • Mr. Mao,
      It’s easier said than done. First of all, we need to determine the viability of your location. Once that’s determined, we need to cost in the travel expenses, building materials, manpower and lastly the long term maintenance of the building. Even though you provide the land, the secret to success is more than just land, sea and mountain. We also have to consider the human factor and the trustworthiness of the partnership. Therefore I am sorry to inform you that we have no intention for any partnership in your Country at the moment. However if any reader out there is interested they are free to contact you here.

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