Nyeri livestock farmers overcome high feed prices to earn Sh2b in revenue

Ndima Kanini Academy director Lincoln Njogu feeds his dairy cows at the institutions cow sheds within the outskirts of Karatina town in Nyeri county on April 7, 2020. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Livestock farmers in Nyeri county have earned over Sh2 billion in revenue from the sector in the last year.

In a county report from the Nyeri Livestock Department, the farmers earned Sh1.9 billion in revenue from the sale of various livestock products like beef, chevon, mutton, poultry meat, pork, eggs.

Dairy farmers also produced an estimated 111,727,403 litres of milk with about 3,317,238 litres having been sold formally through dairy cooperatives and self-help groups within the county.

According to the report during the one year period, the prices of milk oscillated between Sh32 and Sh40 at the processor level to Sh33 to Sh37 per litre to the farmer.

Most of the dairy animals in Nyeri are crosses of the main dairy breeds like Friesian, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Jersey.

“The animals are kept mainly in zero-grazing and semi-intensive systems, especially in Kieni sub-counties,” the report noted.

During the period under review, a total of 25 cooperative societies and 37 self-help groups were active in the marketing of milk across the county.

The report also captured the status of the poultry other animals such as goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits and donkeys.

“The poultry industry comes in second in importance with an estimated population of 804,433 birds followed by sheep at 143,752 and goats (both dairy and meat),” the county reported.

Indigenous poultry (Kienyeji) was a key income-generating activity especially in the poor to average households.

Other enterprises like beekeeping are slowly picking though honey production has not been very good nor consistent as is largely dictated by the weather conditions while pig farming has been fluctuating depending on prevailing market conditions.

Dairy goat keeping continued to rise especially due to support from the county which has been assisting farmers with breeding bucks and does.

Unfortunately, rabbit keeping slowly declined with a very insignificant growth in the enterprise probably due to lack of a coordinated market of rabbit meat and products.

The livestock department highlighted challenges in understaffing, delayed funding to counties, the Covid-19 pandemic, lack of adequate transport as some of the issues affecting service delivery.

In the case of the farmers, most chose to rely on direct feeding to supplement processed feeds.

The cost of feeds remained relatively high and the quality of the concentrates was a big issue as most farmers reported poor results even after use of the same.

“Since the outbreak of Covid-19 availability of quality raw materials has been low prompting limitation of important nutrients during feed formulation thus the complaints on quality,” the department noted.

Some of the raw materials that were in shortage include; cotton seed cake, sunflower cake and maize germ as they are mainly sourced from outside the country.

Natural pastures and shrubs hectares decreased significantly as farmers replaced them with improved fodder crops, pastures and legumes.

“Napier grass is the most used fodder. However, fodder maize is fast gaining popularity among elite dairy farmers.  Other up-coming fodders are the Brachiaria varieties that are doing well across the agro-ecological zones,” the county report noted.