Being a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, bird nest soup is made of edible bird nests that are produced by swiftlets. As trading of bird nest is a lucrative business, swiftlet ranching, building a swiftlet house, has been thriving in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
To build a swiftlet house, you need to consider the following factors:-
1. Availability of swiftlet
First, and foremost, you must check the area where you wish to build a bird house, see whether there are swiftlets. This can be done by using a special detector.
Preferably your bird house should be located outside the residential and commercial area. It can be in the middle of a palm oil plantation. It must be near to bushes and jungles ideally with a river. The reason is that swiftlet food namely insects thrive in this type of environment. During day time when the air near the ground gets warmer, the insects are floated up to the sky where the swiftlets would feed on them.
3. Structure of the house
It could be a reinforced concrete structure, an unoccupied house, an unoccupied shop lot or a stacked up container.
You may rent an unoccupied house or unoccupied shop lot.
Some farmers prefer to build their own bird house. A double storey structure may cost you RM200,000. You have to get an engineer to design the structure.
A cheaper option is to use containers. You need to build the bottom supporting frame either in reinforced concrete or steel structure. The container could be stacked on top of the supporting frame. A container may cost you about RM6,000. To keep a stable temperature inside the container, you need to insulate the ceiling and wall of the container.
4. Living environment
You must create a living environment suitable for swiftlets that resembles natural cave whereby it is dark and humid. For unoccupied houses and shop lots, you must block the windows and doors to shade the light. The temperature should be kept at between 28 – 30 degree Celsius and the humidity at 75 – 85 %. Coastal area is an ideal place where the average temperature does not change abruptly.
5. Sound system
Sound system includes the equipments and recorded swiftlet songs. It is important as the right swiftlet song would entice the swiftlets to stay in your swiftlet house. You need two types of recorded swiftlet song namely external song to entice the swiftlets to stay in your house and internal song to keep the swiftlet in the house. You need to engage an experienced consultant to advise and install the sound system for you.
You need to keep the bird house clean. Cleaning must be done once quarterly. You may consider to use some environmental friendly products like enzyme to neutralize the feces.
It must be kept ventilated. The ventilation system must be cleaned weekly.
Your sound system equipments and bird nests in the bird house are expensive items. You need to consider security to prevent theft. You may install CCTV or employ a staff to take care of the security of your swiftlet house.