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UKZN Alumnus Gives Poultry Business Wings!

2017/07/29 06:20:58 PM

SAEES, Student Entrepreneurship Week, Moores-Pitt Premium Poultry, Agricultural Management, Agriculture.


Mr Alistair Moores-Pitt
UKZN alumnus Mr Alistair Moores-Pitt has spent the past three and a half years hatching his free-range poultry business which is now flying under the banner of Moores-Pitt Premium Poultry(MPPP) based in Pietermaritzburg and Eston.

Moores-Pitt, who graduated with a Bachelor of Agricultural Management from UKZN’s Pietermaritzburg campus in 2014, says he started making ‘pocket money’ during his studies after renting space on his parents’ property and investing his savings into building a chicken house and buying fifty chicks!

He later sold half of the chickens live and the remainder as free-range produce. The quality of the chickens quickly made them a hit, and Moores-Pitt upped production.

Fast forward a few years, and MPPP is producing 1400 free-range birds a week at two sites, supplying 16 Super Spars and other retailers, and ten restaurants between Nottingham Road and Salt Rock! Moores-Pitt employs six people to run the business handling responsibilities such as poultry management, transport and book-keeping.

Just over a year ago, Mr Mark Stiebel, who had spent time farming in North America, joined MPPP to assist in expanding operations onto his family’s farm in Eston, which he runs with his farm manager, while also managing logistics and deliveries at MPPP.

Moores-Pitt’s entrepreneurial journey involved trial and error, and taking a risk to push the business forward even when told it was a ‘crazy’ idea.

MPPP prides itself on producing premium quality brine-, hormone- and additive-free birds.

Moores-Pitt says he has discovered that more science than husbandry is required in the business. He has had to overcome the threat of disease and improve growth, and work to convince supermarkets to sell his product.

He encouraged aspiring entrepreneurs to start small, be patient, and have confidence in themselves and their work. Word-of-mouth has been invaluable, as has his commitment to biosecurity, maintaining quality and using reliable suppliers.

Moores-Pitt is grateful for the broad training he received during his studies, saying there is no substitute for hands-on experience. Mentorship from businesspeople had also been key, while his participation in a Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business competition recently introduced him to local businesspeople who have offered guidance.

Now businessmen as well as farmers, Stiebel and Moores-Pitt agree that selling the product is harder than growing it. The best advice they have received is to enjoy the problem solving, and to do something daily, if possible, to improve the business.

‘As a farmer there are going to be problems every single day,’ said Moores-Pitt, ‘so enjoy fixing them instead of letting them get on top of you.’

Looking to the future, he said if his dreams did not scare him, they would not be big enough! He hopes MPPP will expand to 10 000 birds a week and increase its geographical reach.

Christine Cuénod

UKZNDABA online

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