How is dairy farming in Kenya?
I know this question runs through the minds of many who have agriculture at heart in Kenya, East Africa, and even the entire Africa at large.
For an industry that provides employment, food, and income to as many as 1.8 million people in Kenya, few words can be said to perfectly describe the importance of dairy farming.
It is the most valuable agricultural sub-sector in Kenya, with a GDP contribution of about four percent (4%).
Dairy farming in Kenya has come a very long way from its initial subservient role in Kenya’s economic landscape since the 80s and 90s.
To prove its influence in the employment sector, over 80% of small-scale dairy farmers make a living, which makes a better market for the ordinary Kenyan citizen.
With the recent adoption of medium-scale dairy farming, most farmers utilize modern systems in doing an inevitably more efficient dairy farm in Kenya.
Market Opportunities For Successful Dairy Farmers In Kenya
With the growing demand for dairy foods, both in provincial and domestic areas, there is an excellent potential for large scale milk production in Kenya.
Many farmers are adopting modern and advanced dairy farming techniques and technologies. Also, well-established systems and policies are being put in place with support from those in authority.
In fact, the entire country is now gearing towards dairy farming and its related industries.
When we include the fact that Kenya has 85% of the cattle population in East Africa, we know that there has been no better place to milk cows than Kenya.
Recommended reading: How To Start Poultry Farming In Kenya.
List Of Dairy Farms In Kenya
Here is the list of some successful dairy farms in Kenya that are making millions in revenue in the cattle industry.
- Wilsam Dairy Farm
- Goshen Dairy Farm
- Rafiki Farm Ltd
- Da Bulls Mwangaza Farm
- Sychar Farm
- EDFAM Dairy
- Eldoville Dairy
- Olumara Estates Limited
- Meved Dairy Farm
- Chemusian Farm Limited
- Rayside Farm
- Tujenge Farm
- Sameer Agriculture & Livestock Ltd. (SALL)
- Kinangop Dairy limited
- Brookside Dairy Limited
- Lattana Dairy
Steps To Start A Dairy Farm In Kenya
For you to have a successful dairy business in Kenya, you need to follow these fundamental steps:
Step 1. Market Research
Carry out surveys to determine the area and population of target buyers for your dairy products. Moreover, you need to decide whether they prefer milk or other products. This will help you maximize the profits from your investment.
Step 2. Capital and Land
Draw up a realistic plan that depicts your accessible resources and how you can use it effectively to get enough land and equipment to start.
The size of the land depends on the scale of the business, with housing, grazing areas, and waste disposal parts included. Hence, the site of your dairy farm is vital to the success of the business.
Step 3. Ecological Considerations
Before making any decision concerning your dairy farm, the relationship between the environment and the cattle should be investigated.
Step 4. Breed selection and fodder
The ecological considerations will help to determine the most successful cattle type in Kenya as well as the most plausible fodder type for forage.
For starters, consider using third or second dairy crosses instead of high-bred cattle. Also, consider growing your own feed instead of buying to save your budget of other financial expenses.
Step 5. Management Levels and Production Systems
Spend time finding the right balance between the available resource and the chosen management strategy.
In Kenya, Intensive production strategies where the cattle are enclosed for their life-cycles are favored as the more efficient system.
Also, provisions for labor should be considered, outsourcing some services are cheaper than doing them yourself. This way, you do yourself the favor of not trying to do everything yourself and focus on what only you can do.
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Tips For A Successful Dairy Farm Business In Kenya
To start a smart and profitable dairy farm in Kenya, follow these simple tips:
1. Select Suitable Breed For dairy Farming
The most successful cattle breed in Kenya is the Sahiwal, which is capable of thriving in even the harshest environmental conditions, especially in the arid and semi-arid regions.
Local breeds like the Sahiwal are mostly the logical choices, especially when crossed with exotic breeds. Nevertheless, consult experts before you finalize whatever plan you have prepared for the dairy farm.
2. Proper Health Management
Ensure that you have put mechanisms in place for the early detection of diseases. This will help with immediate prevention after detection, which will also enhance the treatment regimen being rendered.
Create and implement a vaccination program as well as deworming and scheduled dipping control processes.
It is imperative to keep and update farm records on production, sales, feed sources, purchases, and breeding.
Analyzing the results is key to advancing the prospects of the dairy farm. Unfortunately, recordkeeping is not prioritized among those engaged in dairy farming in Kenya.
4. Feeding The Animals
It is advisable to cut the feed into bits to minimize wastage in the feeding process. Also, soak the feed with molasses soaked in water to soften it and thus make it easier for the cattle to eat.
Things You Should Consider Before Starting A Dairy Farm In Kenya
Here are some of the things you should consider once you start a dairy business in Kenya:
Have A Proper Plan
For a successful dairy farming in Kenya, planning is key in your day-to-day activities.
A Detailed Business Plan and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of any business endeavor is necessary.
There is simply no room for risk in any business establishment, and dairy farming is no exception.
Don’t leave anything to chance.
You need to have a clear and spelled-out idea of the size of your cow herd, your target market, your labor, and employment strategy as well as your expenses.
You can utilize a cash flow diagram in writing out detailed and reasonable expectations and projections.
Create A Waste Management Plan
Most top dairy farmers in Kenya have robust waste management strategies on their priority list.
That is a fact!
One of the most essential things to consider before starting a dairy farm in Kenya is waste management.
If you have decided to invest in cropping and feeding program, you can exploit the waste from the dairy farm, which comes in the form of manure, to get better yield and maximize the profits.
Pasture Management In Kenya
There are a lot of identified issues with pasture management in dairy farming in Kenya.
One of which is the effect of overgrazing, which leads to terrible plant growth. Also, due to the insufficient DMI (dry matter intake) or inadequate supplemental feeding, the cattle might develop poor reproductive abilities among other probable problems.
Also, parasites have mainly contributed to the headaches of most small scale dairy farmers all over Kenya. That is why it is widely advocated that farmers watch the nutritional value of the feed offered.
It is wise to include plants with high tannin content like brambles, birdsfoot trefoil, and chicory while improving soil fertility through compost to reduce parasite loads.
Milking The Cow
It’s ridiculous to think that one would forget to do the most significant thing that principally yields the primary income of an investment.
But don’t take things for granted. Ensure that you milk your cows at fixed times, following a strict and prudent procedure. Milking your cows two (2) to three (3) times every day should be enough.
Recommended reading: How To Start Snail Farming In Nigeria.
Dairy Farming Equipment
The most essential tools and equipment you must procure to start a dairy farming business in Kenya include:
- Milking Machine
- Chaff Cutters
- Parasite Control items like Knapsack Sprayers
- Milk Strainers and Milk Churns
Smart Dairy Farming Job Opportunities In Kenya
There are other job opportunities that have contributed to most of the success stories of dairy farmers in Kenya.
Dairy farming is not an industry meant for the dairy farmer alone. It employs the efforts and services of various people for different reasons.
Some of these include milk transporters, milk and manure traders and vendors, the staff of dairy associations.
Not only that but also milk processors (small and large scale), farm input dealers and service providers as well as retailers and distributors are all job opportunities created by dairy farming in Kenya.
Processing Dairy Products
The largest population of Kenyans favor raw milk because it is cheaper than processed milk, by about 20 to 50 percent.
It has a unique taste with high nutritional content. In fact, 85 percent of marketed milk is sold raw, even with the health risks it presents.
Processing dairy products in Kenya can create massive employment for the teeming youth in the country.
Cost Involved In Setting Up A Dairy Farm In Kenya
Setting up a dairy farm in Kenya is extremely capital intensive. The cost of the cattle itself is usually between 50,000 – 100,000 KSh, with the price variability dependent on the milk-producing capability and breed of the cow.
But those are not the only costs to consider. The land and equipment, as well as the construction of the various fundamental structures, will add to the costs depending on your business plan.
You would also have to consider the costs of labor which could cost a maximum of 4,000 Kenyan Shillings every month.
How Profitable is Dairy Farming in Kenya?
Dairy farming is an attractive investment in the private sector due to its steady income. With a Sample of six cows in milk, it could cost between 10-12 KSh for producing one kg of milk.
An investment that can yield up to 120,000 KSh every month for 150 -170kg of milk produced every day. Out of which a profit of up to 60,000 Kenyan Shilling can be realized.
Also, at the same rate, 5,000 – 6,000 KSh can be achieved from selling manure.