Dairy farming is a major agricultural activity in Kenya. The country is home to an estimated 13 million dairy cows, which produce over 5 billion liters of milk per year.
Dairy farming is an important source of income for many Kenyans. It provides jobs for over 2 million people and contributes significantly to the country’s economy.
There are two main types of dairy farming in Kenya: smallholder dairy farming and commercial dairy farming.
- Smallholder dairy farming: Smallholder dairy farming is the most common type of dairy farming in Kenya. It is characterized by small-scale operations, with farmers owning a few cows. Smallholder dairy farmers typically sell their milk to local markets or processors.
- Commercial dairy farming: Commercial dairy farming is less common in Kenya, but it is growing in importance. Commercial dairy farms are larger-scale operations, with farmers owning hundreds or even thousands of cows. Commercial dairy farmers typically sell their milk to large-scale processors or exporters
The following are physical conditions that favour dairy farming in Kenya
Gentle sloping or undulating landscape
Dairy cows are large animals and require a lot of space to graze. A gentle sloping or undulating landscape provides the cows with enough space to move around and graze without damaging the land. The land should also be well-drained to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to hoof rot and other health problems in cows.
Dairy cows produce a lot of manure, which can pollute water if it is not properly disposed of. Well-drained soils help to prevent manure from contaminating water supplies. The soils should also be fertile to support the growth of grass and other forage crops that cows eat.
Moderate temperature (10-30) cool condition
Dairy cows are comfortable in a moderate temperature range of 10-30 degrees Celsius. Temperatures that are too hot or too cold can stress the cows and lead to decreased milk production.
Moderate to high rainfall (500 – 2000 mm)
Dairy cows need regular access to water. A moderate to high rainfall helps to ensure that there is enough water for the cows to drink and for the crops that they eat to grow. However, too much rainfall can also be a problem, as it can lead to flooding and waterlogging.
Reliable supply of water
Dairy cows need a constant supply of clean, fresh water. This is especially important during hot weather, when cows need to drink more water to stay cool. Kenya has a reliable supply of water from rivers, lakes, and boreholes. However, in some areas, water may be scarce during the dry season.
Improved managerial skills
Dairy farming is a complex business that requires good management skills. Farmers need to know how to feed, care for, and breed their cows in order to produce milk efficiently. They also need to know how to market their milk and manage their finances. There are a number of training programs available to help farmers improve their managerial skills.
The presence of exotic breeds that tolerate diseases and grow fast
Exotic breeds of dairy cows are often better suited to the conditions in Kenya than local breeds. These breeds are often more resistant to diseases and they can grow faster. However, they can also be more expensive to buy and maintain.
Presence of affordable veterinary services
Dairy cows are susceptible to a number of diseases, so it is important to have access to affordable veterinary services. There are a number of government and private veterinary services available in Kenya.
Adequate extension services
Extension services can provide farmers with information and advice on how to improve their dairy farming practices. There are a number of government and non-government extension services available in Kenya.
Presence of nutritious pasture
Kenya has a diverse range of climates and vegetation, which allows for the growth of a variety of grasses and other forage crops that are suitable for dairy cows. The most important grasses for dairy farming in Kenya are Napier grass, Rhodes grass, and elephant grass. These grasses are high in protein and energy, and they can be grown on a variety of soils and under a variety of conditions.
Use of high-quality fodders
Kenya has a diverse climate, which allows for the growth of a variety of fodder crops. These crops include maize, wheat, barley, oats, and legumes. These fodder crops are high in nutrients and can provide the cows with the energy and protein they need to produce milk.
A large market for dairy products
Kenya has a growing population, which is creating a demand for dairy products. The country also has a strong export market for dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and butter.