Kenya Agriculture Livestock and Research Organisation (KALRO) has recently introduced improved breeds of dairy cattle and grass. This comes as they make efforts to battle climate change and mitigate the rough effects of drought on livestock.
A cross breed between the indigenous Sahiwal and exotic Friesian was resistant to most pests and diseases. Additionally, this cross was resistant to most pests and diseases while potentially yielding 30 litres of milk per day.
Furthermore, the Director General of KARLO Dr Eliud Kireger said that the Dairy institute in Naivasha has begun training farmers. “We are offering training on breeding, disease control, animal health, feed formulation, value addition and marketing in the dairy subsector” he shared.
What challenges will the cross-breeds help with?
“One of the biggest challenges the dairy subsector has been grappling with is the high cost of animal feed which makes the venture non profitable. We have been equipping farmers with skills to formulate feeds from maize germ, boma rhodes and brachiaria grass,” he added.
Moreover, the new breeds fit perfectly within the nomadic pastoral system of production that is dominant in most areas. KALRO urged these pastoralists to keep fewer animals but with higher milk and meat production capability.
At a recent Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop, Dr Kireger said the changing climate has affected the feed and fodder situation in Arid and SemiArid regions. Additionally, the sad truth is that when droughts occur, livestock is lost, so farmers need to adapt.
The National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Project (NARIGP) organized the 9-day project. It incorporates livestock extension officers from Kwale, Kilifi, Narok, Samburu and Nyamira counties.
“KALRO has introduced re-seeding programme, where grasses, mainly indigenous and adopted, are re-grown in the rangelands,” spoke Dr Kireger.
Conclusively, the drought that hit the country in the past year was a national disaster. Efforts like this are a step in the right direction but a lot more will still be required.