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Swiftlet nests farming – Part 2

 New swiftlet farming project is mushrooming around the country at record breaking pace although 2 out of 3 will end up in failure.

New swiftlet farming project is mushrooming around the country at record breaking pace although 2 out of 3 will end up in failure.

In swiftlet farming, there is no guarantee that the project will bear the owner its fruit of success. However, after indulging in this business for quite a while, we found that we have to be creative, flexible and be experimental in order to reduce the risk of failure. So, literally to pick gold out of the sky, you would need to seriously consider some of the following:

  1. Proper planning process (e.g. land, building, contractor, consultant, deadline, goals…)
  2. Reasonable budget availability, otherwise don’t waste your time.
  3. Since this is mostly a onetime upfront investment, you have to start right especially getting the right land, right building or the right contractor to build the right building. For existing building, the most important aspects are to plan the correct flight path for the swiftlet. Flight path means where to place the entrance, how would the birds fly in from outside and once they are inside how would they navigate between the first floor, second floor and so forth. For new purpose-built swiftlet farming building, these are not really an issue as you would get the architect/contractor and consultant to tailor-made your requirements.
  4. Once the building is up and ready, you next task is the environmental consideration. Since its quite impossible to adept a man-made building to be the equivalent of a million year old cave, it pays to artificially induce the internal and external ecology to mimic that of a cave. In this regards the most important considerations should be the humidity (~86%) and temperature (28°C) within the building. Air ventilation, lighting, humidifiers and the installation of complete water piping with jet-spray outlets are some of the other important considerations. Their applications will depend on the building design, height, locality and budget.
  5. When the building is ready and the ecology is close to optimum, the next action to consider should be the actual habitat of the swiftlet. How would they build their nest like in their natural habitat of caves? You can’t expect them to build their nests only on the 4 corners of the ceiling, right? In this regards, the systematic installation of specially grooved planks that criss-cross the ceiling are a must. The correct distance between each planks and the cover-up of all right-angled corner are pre-requisite.
  6. The micro and macro-ecology of the swiftlet habitat has to be maintained consistently throughout the day and night. Usually in new buildings, swiftlet guano (droppings) are acquired and distributed on the floor of the establishments to season the buildings and to get rid of the new cement and paint smell. Some might even go to the extent of spraying swiftlet pheromones on the wooden structure within the buildings. However one need to be careful and spray only the right type and amount as sometime this practice could back fire on the owner and drive away the swiftlet!
  7. Pest control is important as too much ants, birds’ tick, rodents and flies might interfere with the optimum habitat of the swiftlet.
  8. Predators control is also another important consideration. Eagle and owl could easily have the juvenile swiftlet for snacks. If owls managed to sneak into the swiftlet house, you could say goodbye to your entire hard earned swiftlet colony.
  9. Availability of food and insects will also help to increase the population of your birds steadily. Some people use special imported insects’ powder to generate insects as food for the birds within the building. Some manufacture their own insects’ powder through research and through trial and error.
  10. Security consideration are very important as burglars and thieves nowadays know when to strike at these mushrooming swiftlet farms as there are potentially easy money to be had. More and more people are installing secure vault-type steel door, expensive security alarms, surveillance camera and even 24×7 on-line IP-based digital video camera to monitor their precious birds around the clock. Old fashion early warning systems like a few roaming dogs might also be a good idea. I have even seen one enormous swiftlet house with 12-foot high “Fort Knox” concrete wall around the perimeter of the swiftlet house! That is serious stuff, man. It might ward of robbers but at the same time it might also ward off the precious birds too!

The above are just some important considerations for building your own swiftlet house. It might vary slightly, a lot or not at all, depending on your location, your building design and internal construction. However, at the end of day, it would just come down to common sense and a bit of luck for you to be successful. Well in the end, if you failed, you could comfort yourself knowing that you are just 2 out of the 3 that are destined not to have any luck with birds.

Comments

  1. would like to know about pheromones for my bird house

    • Use of pheromones in swiftlet house is very subjective. Unless you or the supplier has any scientific knowledge of what you are doing, it’s better to do without it.

      If you must have them sprayed all over your property, get a guarantee from the supplier and ask for a reference visit. Otherwise don’t blame anyone if it fails miserably.

      Note: You would also need to differentiate between genuine siwftlet’s pheromones, ammonia, “homemade remedy” and magic potion! Buyers beware!

  2. paul ngan says:

    some ideas of architectural design

    • An experienced consultant would be able to advise you on this as this information is considered trade secret for those who had made it in this industry. The secret is really not in the building per se, it’s more to do with the interior design and intimate understanding of the birds’ behavior.

      New entrants would definitely need a consultant for guidance. For the beginners – it’s akin to building a plane with only household items. Don’t ‘stinge’ on knowledge if you are serious on this business and seriously there’s no free lunch even with the vast information available on the internet.

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