Kwale County has embarked on a project to raise beef production in the dry parts of the county and has provided pedigree bulls to sire cows owned by local farmers.
The 12 bulls the county purchased recently are now being used by farmers who want to increase the weight of their newly-born calves.
Lungalunga Sub-County Livestock Production Officer Juma Risasi says these farmers have been able to increase the carcass weight of animals that were sold for slaughter, benefiting immensely from the higher price they charge for their animals.
“Our aim is to improve on beef production by ensuring that the livestock that get to the market are heavier,” says Risasi.
On average, local breeds weigh about 200kg when alive but when dressed after slaughter the carcass weight goes to about 100kg. The objective of the project is to increase the live weight to about 350kg so that after dressing the carcass comes to between 180kg and 200kg.
Ranching is a major economic activity in Mwereni which is one of the areas where a bull has been loaned to farmers. The bull serves Mwereni Ranch and other livestock farmers who want to increase the weight of their herds.
From the single bull Mwereni Ranch now has eight calves while at least eight more cows are in-calf (expectant).
Pastor Joseph Dena, a foreman at the ranch, says that the bull serves about 27 cows currently; however it should ideally serve 20.
A kilogramme of meat goes for Sh360 thus a farmer is bound to earn Sh36,000 more from the larger breeds.
About 80 calves have been born from the 12 bulls over the two years that the programme has been in place.
Farmers mostly sell their produce to south coast’s largest livestock market at Mwangulu. The county government now wants to spend Sh3 million to refurbish this market.
Hamisi Dzila, the chief officer for agriculture in Kwale County, says his department wants to focus on raising beef production.
“We work with the trade department to market agricultural produce from the county and have urged farmers to form cooperative societies to help market their produce,” he explains. Dzila says that besides the breeding programme, the county has also revived 18 cattle dips and built three more new dips in the area.