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Home > Agriculture > Kajiado farmers turn to feedlots for profits in livestock keeping

Kajiado farmers turn to feedlots for profits in livestock keeping

Kajiado County is well known for pastoralism, beef, mutton and chevon production.

However, the recurring drought has affected the traditional way of pastoralism and meat production, an event that has forced some pastoralists to shift to a climate smart livestock keeping form of agriculture called feedlotting.  

Feedlotting is an agricultural practice where emaciated animals are kept and raised in a confined area and fattened until they reach slaughter weight.

Lawrence Mugambi, the owner of Rosa Eco-Farm Limited located in Kisaju, Kajiado County started livestock feedlotting in 2001. He reveals that the climate in Kajiado prompted him to build feedlot structures, as traditional pastoralism is no longer productive in the area. 

“Now that there is no grass, we use what is relevant. These animals feed on beef concentrate, special mineral salt, a lot of water, hay and shredded silage which I get from my farm. For cows bought at a better condition it only takes one month for them to gain the slaughter weight but for emaciated cows, it takes between 3-4 months for them to be sold for slaughtering,” said Mugambi.

Mugambi says that though feedlotting entails a lot of work and a lot of money to maintain the animals compared to traditional pastoralism, it is the best practice in semi-arid areas.

 

Feedlot structure at Lawrence Mugambi’s Rosa Eco-Farm in Kisaju, Kajiado County.

He says the cheapest way to feed cows meant for beef production is through traditional pastoralism where they just wander around looking for grass but if one practices it now, their survival chances are low.

“Feedlotting, however, requires money because I have to buy the animal feeds, monitor their weight and build the feedlot structures. The advantage is their meat is very delicious and supple because of the nutrients they gain in the feedlot,” says Mugambi.

He advises fellow farmers that it is important to carry out research on the market and potential partners before investing into feedlotting.

“Keeping a feedlot as an individual is expensive. With the nature of the country’s economy, the price of cows sold to meat outlets may not bring much profit hence a farmer needs to be innovative and carry out research before disposing them to the market,” he notes.

“Initially, I used to sell my cows to the Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) at a throw away price but later after my research I realised owning a butchery is cost effective so these days I slaughter the cows in my butchery and sell meat to people,” adds Mugambi.

Reto empowerment group is a community based organization (CBO) in Ilbisil, Kajiado that practice lamb and goat fattening at Ilkirasha Farm. The organisation started the programme in 2022 and it has been a success.

The group Chairman Mr. Jonathan Sayianka says that they buy and also own sheep and goats which they put in a feedlot and feed them using concentrate and later sell them for meat.

“We keep the sheep and the goats in a feedlot and feed them concentrate for a period of 45 to 60 days. We do semi intensive feedlotting for goat and sheep. For sheep, we look at the body condition whether they are emaciated or not, we also look at the weather condition. During intense drought we lock them up but when there is no drought we allow them to graze,” says Sayianka.

Sayianka adds that their group was privileged to get support while starting the feedlot because it entails a lot of work and cost.

“Starting a feedlot is not easy, when we started we got support from a group called SNV, a Netherlands Development Organization, which guided us on how to start. It is not easy because you must incur the cost of building feedlot structures, feeding trough, water trough and feeds. Our structures can hold 200 sheep and goats,” Sayianka says.

The CBO have so far sold two cycles of goats and sheep. The animals are monitored until they are healthy and in good conditions. For sheep they target those that weigh 35kg and for goat those that weigh between 30kg to 35kg.

The group normally buys the animals between Sh4,500 to Sh5,500 and sell them between Sh8,000 to Sh9,000 after feedlotting.

Sayianka says he would recommend farmers to adopt feedlotting and any form of smart climate agriculture. “I prefer feedlotting because it covers all seasons, the animals take the shortest time to fatten so that they can be sold really fast,” says Sayianka.

“What we do is just adding value to the animal. It is not stressful and it is good for the business, you can export them to companies that package meat, their prices are fairly well and it is also environmentally friendly,” he notes.

The county government of Kajiado has been at the forefront of advocating for Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices. The county’s head of livestock department Mr. Murahni Ezekiel says that the county government will help pastoralists through facilitation of hay production in the county under the nutrition programme.

Murahni noted that hay production will not only prevent animals from overgrazing but it will also enable farmers to easily adopt feedlotting.

  • By Seline Nyangere

 

 

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