Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Swiftlet farmers cry foul

Below is a story written by me regarding the dilemma of swiftlet farmers in Sarawak published in the national daily, The Star.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deepest Condolence To The Swiftlets Of Mukah

I cried when I saw these victims of senseless killings. Most of them had died, and some were breathing their last breath..No body was helping them. No body knew how to help them survive. Some of them were a few weeks old, just learning to fly while many were infants, without a single feather. Their parents could have escaped the onslaught but those helpless ones just dropped to their death.
Last week 14 bird houses in Mukah Division of Sarawak, East Malaysia, were raided and destroyed by a government enforcement unit because it said these bird houses were illegal. Sarawak currently has some 1500 bird houses, the majority of them in Mukah,Sarikei,Sibu and Miri.Reports said there are only 2 legal bird houses with licences issued by the authority where as all the other are operating without licences. Whose fault is it when many of these bird houses have been in existence for 8 years without licences? Many owners claimed that they had applied for the licences, but they never get the approval. Some had applied for two years without news.
With the intervention of some ministers, the raid was temporary halted. Bird ranching farmers are given two and a half month until December 31 to dismantle the bird houses and move out from the town areas to the agricultural land in the rural areas.The bird ranching farmers are now in a big dilemma.Where can they move the bird houses to if they do not own any agricultural land? Can they build bird houses on any agricultural land? Are the government agencies ready and prompt in approving the licences? How much will be the licence fees? What are the terms and conditions? Two and a half month is certainly too short to do anything when in the past eight years nothing much had been done to support the industry with clear-cut guidelines.The other big question is how to move the swiftlets to their new homes in a totally new area? You definately cannot catch them, put them in cages and transport them to their new homes like chicken and duck.In the next few months the farmers will continue to suffer the agony of financial loss and guilt over not able to provide proper accommodation to the swiftlets.
Deepest condolence to the dead swiftlets of Mukah. I sincerely hope there will be no more this kind of senseless and cruel killings.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Heat Shield For Bird House

This row of 6 units of shophouses has 3 of them converted into bird house.One of them belongs to our group

Look like the aluminium foil...the heat shield is very effective

In our country the temperature in a room could reach more than 40 degrees C if there is no proper ventilation and insulation. For the bird house, the conduscive temperature for swiftlets to stay and breed is below 30 degrees C. Many bird houses fail because the owners do not provide suitable environment for the swiftlets.
I would like to introduce a heat shield system which would greatly lower the room temperature and always maintain it at below 30 degrees C.The OTE Heat Shield System is actually a kind of twin-layered,air bubble aluminium foil which would eliminate the heat from intruding into the room. They are installed on top of the ceiling, just spread them flat and neatly across the entire ceiling and fix them with staples. The heat shield comes in rolls of 2' x 20'. It is light and very easy to install.
We have all our bird houses installed with this heat shield and also introduced it to friends.It really works. The benefits of OTE Heat Shield System are listed below:

1. Keeps out radiant heat from ceiling and room
2.Reduces energy requirement
3.No degradation and non contaminating with other systems
4.Non toxic and poses no health problem
5.Clean, strong and durable
6.Does not attract termites,rats and other pests
7.Easy installation
8.Performance guaranteed
9. Approved by SIRM and BOMBA (Sirim 2001FE0017 & 2001FE0035)
If you need more information about the heat shield system, kindly email me at

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Building a bird house

The proposal

The 20'x100' vacant shophouse

This is how a successful bird house looks like when the swiftlets are returning home in the evening

Lately we received several requests from owners of shophouse and abandoned building to JV with them on swiftlet farming. One of them owns a 3-stroey building at Bintangor. Bintangor is a small town about 40 minutes by road from Sibu and 20 minutes from Sarikei.It was formerly known an Binatang. It remains largely under developed over the past few decades as most young people have left the town in search of greener pastures.

A quick survey found that swiftlet farming is still very new to this town. There could be less than a dozen established bird houses in and around the town areas as compared to 500 in Sarikei which is less than half an hour away by road. The potential is there and it could be very promising because there are a lot of padi fields and nypah forests around Bintangor. These places would provide a lot of insects for the swiftlets.There are very few factories and the air and environment are still very clean. May be 10-20 years down the road this sleepy place could be a major swiftlet farming town in Sarawak.
The said property is facing the Rajang River and it has been vacant for a few years. The rental is too low so the owner just closed the shop and left it there unproductive. It is 20' wide and 100' long.
3 of our group's existing bird houses are built in shophouses, all of them only 20' x 60'. With this 20' x 100' structure, we estimated that total renovation cost for 2 stories, that is the 2nd and 3rd floor, will cost about RM50,000.This cost is inclusive of all labour,cost of materials such as red Meranti planks,plywood,paint,heat shield,sound, humidity control and security system.
We proposed 3 options to the the owner. First is on JV basis. Second is on profit sharing basis and third is we provide consultancy and management only.It will take about 2 weeks for the shop owner to study and decide on our proposal.
In the proposal, we include 2 important statistics which I would like to share with my readers here.First is on the projected population of birds from year 1 to year 10. It is amazing to see how they multiply in numbers.
1st year: 1 pair x 3 =3 pairs
2nd year: 4 pairs x =3 12 pairs
3rd year: 16 pairs x 3= 48 pairs
4th year: 64 pairs x 3 =192 pairs
5th year: 256 pairs x =3 768 pairs
6th year:1024 pairs x 3= 3072 pairs
7th year: 4096 pairs x 3 =12,288 pairs
8th year: 16,384 pairs x 3= 49,152 pairs
9th year: 65,536 pairs x 3= 196,608 pairs
10th year: 262,144 pairs x 3= 786,432 pairs
In normal circumstances, 1 pair of swiftlets lay 2 eggs per season for 3 times in a year.(haha,of course only the female swiftlet lays the eggs) So they keep multiplying, and if your bird house is conducive enough to keep all the birds,by the 10th year, the total population of the swiftlets will be 786,432 pairs...that is a total of 1,572,862 birds. Isn't that fantastic? So you just imagine how many bird's nests will this huge population of swiftlets build. The figures certainly look very impressive.However, in reality it might not be so accurate. But even if the total population of the swiftlet is only half, you are already a very success swiftlet farmer.
According to reliable sources, a female swiftlet remains productive for 10-15 years and swiftlets can usually live up to 25 years.
Secondly,it is on the projected harvest of the bird's nest. Using this 20' x 100' shophouse as an example, we come to the estimates as follows:
Area: 20' x 100'= 2,000 square feet, which is 200 square meter.
Maximum bird's nest in a 200 square meter area is 20,000 pieces. The swiftlets build nests 3 times in a year, so the total number of bird's nest is 60,000 pieces a year.
About 130 pieces of bird's nest weigh 1 kilogram. 60,000 pieces is approximately 460 kilogram. That is about 38 kilogram per month.
At the current selling price of unprocessed house bird's nest at RM4,000/kg, the estimated monthly income will be RM152,000. That will be RM1,824,000 per year!
The above projection is only for one floor. What about if the other floor with the same floor area is also very successful?
So those of you who has keen interests to start swiftlet farming,dream no more.You must act fast and start the project immediately. To be a successful swiftlet farmer these are the 3 most important criterias. (1) Getting start (2) Be patient to wait for the swiftlets to build nests (3) Must be innovative and constantly upgrade yourself with new knowledge and technology.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Some more bird houses around Sibu and Sarikei

A completed bird house with the entrance hole from the roof top.

This bird house on the 1st and 2nd floor of a new shophouse is still under construction. The swiftlets fly into the shophouse from the entrance hole and then fly down to the 1st floor through a hole on the floor.
Various potted plants are placed on the floor below the entrance hole.

Another view of the hole to allow swiftlets to fly from 2nd floor to 1st floor and vice versa.

The ceiling is renovated with Meranti planks for the swiftlets to build their nests.

Due to rampant break-in, many successful bird houses now have installed CCTV cameras to monitor the building 24/7.
This yellow building has three floors converted for swiftlet ranching.

And this row of poorly maintained shophouses has two bird houses.

The roof of this shophouse has been removed to make an entrance hole.

This abandoned house on the bank of Rajang River has been converted into a bird house.

A simple wooden bird house is built infront of an Iban longhouse in Sarikei. Some Ibans and Malays have also started swiftlet farming in Sarawak.

A very successful 2-storey bird house with a guard house and surveillance cameras.

I have just completed a simple proposal for setting up a swiftlet farm. In the next posting, I will highlight some major and interesting points on converting a concrete shophouse into a bird house.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Swiftlet Ranching

This is West Mouth, the main entrance to the great Niah Cave in Miri, Sarawak

Collecting of bird nests inside Niah Cave has been going on for decades. The extended belian poles seen here are for collectors to climb up to the roof of the caves where the nests are located. It is a very dangerous job.

This wooden shophouse in Dalat,Sarawak, is converted to a bird house

Another wooden bird house in Matu-Daro in coastal Sarawak

This big concerete stand alone bird house is located in Sarikei. The ground floor is used as a store

Not far from the above yellow bird house, another stand alone bird house has been completed

The entrance hole to the bird house on the roof of a 2nd floor new shophouse in Sarikei,Sarawak

This new stand alone bird house (above) is located across Sibu Town. The picture below shows human and birds live side by side.Part of this single storey wooden house near a construction site in Matu-Daro is converted into a bird house.

After more than two years of close monitoring and learning, I have finally decided to wait no more.I am getting very excited now as I am planning and actually am in the process of venturing into swiftlet ranching in a bigger way. Swiftlet ranching or farming is a modern way of attracting swiftlets into specially designed and built bird houses so that these little lovely birds can make edible bird nests and the owners can harvest the nests,process them, eat them and sell them if they have surplus.

In this new blog I intend to share my little knowledge and experiences on swiftlet ranching to potential investors,readers and of course buyers of birdnests who may not know the whole process of this "bird business". In the process of sharing, I hope to acquire more knowledge on this subject.And I will disseminate new information and the skills I acquire for the benefit of all readers.

It is estimated that currently there are about 1,000 bird houses in Sarawak. Sarikei, Mukah and Sibu are the main centres for swiftlet ranching.There are still a lot of room for expansion and improvement for this multi-million dollar a year industry.A kilo of good quality raw bird nest costs about RM5,000.After being processed, it can cost more than RM10,000 a kilo.

There are basically two types of bird nest, the cave bird nest and the house bird nest. The three types of bird which produce the edible bird nests are called Collocalia Fuciphaga /Aerodramus Fuciphagus (AF), Collocalia Maxima/Aerodramus Maximus (AM) and Collocalia Germani/Aerodramus Germani (AG). In Malaysia we only have the AF and AM.

I am fortunate to have a group of close friends, some of whom are also partners in this venture. They are far more knowledgeable than me. Among them are two PHD holders, one in Electrical Engineering and the other in Environmental Management. Both will be my valuable advisors.

Comments are suggestions are most welcome.