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- Animal Production Research Programme
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Animal Production Research Programme
Farm livestock and poultry comprise a number of species and breeds and types within the species. The livestock sector contributes over 30% of the AgGDP and employs more than 50% of the agricultural labour force. Dairy and livestock farming generally account for utilisation of 30% of the high to medium potential land and 81% of the ASAL. Livestock related production alone accounts for utilisation of nearly 421 million hectares out of a national total of 484 million hectares used mainly for crop and livestock production. As Kenya endeavours to promote rural development and, therefore, to reduce poverty, livestock production has a crucial contribution to make. Similarly, the country's natural resource conservation and utilisation have to take into account the role of livestock farming in improved agricultural land use practices.
Kenya's livestock and poultry production sector is dominated by dairy, dual purpose and beef cattle. Commodities from cattle, that is, beef and milk, account for more than 75% of marketed livestock production from the national stock of nearly 12 million cattle. Sheep and goats follow cattle as sources of meat and, to a lesser extent, milk and wool. Camels are important sources of milk and meat as well as means of transport mainly in the arid and semi-arid rangelands. Other herbivores include donkeys, which are widely distributed across the country as beasts of burden and in a few districts, as meat and milk animals. Finally at the end of their useful lives, these animals provide hides, skins, meat, bone and blood meals and other industrial raw materials. Poultry, particularly chicken, are found in many districts as foragers but also near urban centres where exotic birds are intensively and commercially managed for production of eggs and broiler meat. The pig herd has dwindled over the years due to marketing problems and high cost of inputs; the pig industry is currently dominated by one or two private pig meat processors who cater for the tourist and high-class markets. Honey bees are of increasing economic importance particularly in the dry farming districts.
Ruminant livestock are kept under various regimes in Kenya:
- In the high rainfall areas sedentary mixed crop-livestock farming is the rule. In this regime, exotic dairy cattle and their crosses are kept under free grazing and/or stall feeding systems. Under the free grazing arrangement, animals are fed on sown pasture and/or natural pasture. In most cases they are confined at night after the evening milking mainly on security grounds. The animals may be supplementary fed with concentrates and roughage fodder. Under the stall feeding regime, animals are enclosed and/or tethered and fodder has to be harvested and transported to them often after some processing. The kingpin fodder under this intensive crop/livestock farming system is Napier grass, sometimes grown and fed in mixture with forage legumes and cuttings from fodder shrubs and/or waste/by-products from various operations associated with crop production. It is this interaction that is the hallmark of a stable and sustainable mixed farming system, which not only diversifies sources of income, but also spreads out risk associated with farming enterprises besides converting the material, which is otherwise of little or no use into milk and meat among other livestock products. Furthermore, the interaction best demonstrates the complementarities of mixed crop-livestock farming. The Institute will reinforce these complementarities by disseminating technologies where locally available fodders/feedstuffs are fully integrated in the annual
livestock feeding budget.
- Cattle, sheep, goats and camels are also kept under extensive grazing of natural rangeland pasture/vegetation, that is, nomadic and/or semi-sedentary pastoralism. The ruminants are confined in makeshift enclosures at night for security reasons. These ASALs areas are characterized by frequent droughts often resulting in substantial losses of livestock and dependence of the human population on famine relief over extensive periods of time. Another feature of these areas, especially in the districts along the international boundaries, is raiding of livestock leading to security problems. Some of the more humid areas of these ASAL have been taken over by arable agriculture. Examples are the production of wheat in Narok and the cultivation of crops along the permanent and seasonal river valleys and around mountains in the districts of the Eastern and North Eastern Provinces.
At the national level, the livestock sector's goal is to contribute towards year-round availability of adequate balanced feeds and improved animal management to enable the sector to economically ensure self-sufficiency in domestic supplies of milk, meat, eggs and other livestock products. It is understood that the farmers/pastoralists will plan/invest to produce the volume required for self-sufficiency and generate surplus for export only when they foresee opportunities for realising net returns
The market for both livestock inputs and products has been liberalised and the milk, meat and egg producers have to cope with fluctuating prices for inputs and products along with other constraints related to poor development and maintenance of rural infrastructure, particularly in ASALs
The programme aims at developing livestock production and health technologies and to catalyse and contribute to their adoption in order to improve the livelihood of farmers/pastoralists.
The sub Programmes include:
Beef, Poultry, Sheep and Goats, Dairy and Camels
All components of the livestock research programme will focus on development and dissemination of sustainable production technologies and knowledge systems to support profitable livestock based enterprises. Solutions to constraints hampering profitable returns from investments in livestock production are being investigated. Special focus will continue to be directed at year round provision of balanced feedstuffs and fodder. Most of the harvest from grown fodders and pastures comes during the growing season when occasionally there may be surplus forage. On the other hand, deficiency of fodder occurs during dry spells. Thus, there is a need to harvest and conserve the surplus dry matter production during or immediately after the rains for utilisation during the dry months. As indicated above, arable crop by-products constitute an important source of nourishment for farm animals. Again, technology will be developed to conserve/preserve these roughages for use during the dry periods. A nutritionally balanced dry matter intake possibly supplemented with concentrates supports a higher level of performance and can be profitable. Each centre is expected to prepare livestock feeding recommendations specifically tailored for its cluster of mandate districts.
The animal health component will aim at protecting livestock not only from fatal diseases but also at providing advice for management of infections and conditions, which reduce the efficiency of production such as sub-clinical mastitis, foot rot and fertility problems. In addition to using modern veterinary drugs, each adaptive research centre is expected to investigate the efficacy and economics of incorporating traditional livestock disease control/treatment methods (ethno-veterinary knowledge). Muguga North will continue its linkage with the Department of Veterinary Services in disease surveillance and control of major livestock diseases, which cause huge economic losses across the country. The centre will carry out research to improve the existing vaccines, to develop new vaccines and to improve/develop diagnostic kits with a view of enhancing their delivery to livestock farmers and pastoralists nationwide.
The livestock research programme has the overall goal of achieving a sustainable increase in incomes from livestock in humid, sub-humid and rangeland areas.
The purpose of the livestock research programme comprises developing and disseminating appropriate technologies and promoting their adoption to facilitate profitable livestock production and range resource management.
The programme is concerned with developing solutions to priority livestock production constraints in different AEZs including those related to nutrition/feeding, management, breeding, control of animal diseases and range resource management in the ASALs. The programme is therefore targeted at achieving the following outputs (for details, refer to the logframe):
- Appropriate technologies for profitable livestock management and nutrition/ feeding developed and tested, recommendations on suitable forage/pasture production and conservation disseminated and adoption promoted.
- Breeding guidelines developed and released for key livestock species for the
- Appropriate profitable technologies for control of priority livestock diseases developed, validated, disseminated and adoption facilitated. This will include testing and validation of local ethno-veterinary practices for disease control and prevention.
- Appropriate natural resource management technologies and knowledge systems for improved range production/productivity developed, validated and adaptation/adoption facilitated.
- Assessment of land use changes/systems in the ASALs in respect to crop/ livestock/wildlife/human interactions.
- Development of networking between KARI centres involved in the livestock research programme as well as other collaborators in the region (e.g. ASARECA, IARCs, NGOs, extension providers and the private sector).
Livestock Research Sub-programmes
Although the milk industry has been liberalised, there are still substantial constraints hindering economic exploitation of this commodity. Many farmers lack the required management skills for intensive production. Dairy research focuses on the development, dissemination and adoption by smallholders of available and economically viable technologies, including:
- Strategic studies at national and districts levels.
- Improvement of breeding stock for different AEZs.
- Development of on-farm milk production recommendations including post harvest technologies.
- Off-farm priority concerns of processing, value addition, storage, and marketing.
- Improved animal management (husbandry, feed efficiency) for optimum economic productivity.
- Control of diseases to improve the economic efficiency of milk production.
- Milk hygiene and hazard analysis.
- Minimising losses and supporting farmers in keeping records whose analysis will provide accurate information on profitability of livestock enterprises.
- Introduction and development of more productive varieties of fodder crops, including Napier grass, which are resistant/tolerant to common diseases/pests.
The expected outputs of the sub-programme are:
- Improved nutrition/feeding packages developed and extended to farmers and their adoption promoted to improve returns from the dairy enterprise.
- Ã‚Â· Appropriate animal health and management packages developed in a participatory manner and used by farmers to reduce losses thus increasing profitability of the enterprise.
- Ã‚Â· In collaboration with GoK, producers' friendly dairy policies especially concerning marketing strategies and rangelands utilisation for meat production developed and promulgated.
The production constraints to the beef industry are similar to those in dairy in terms of feeds, disease control, management and marketing. Beef, however, has the advantage that it can be transported on hoof to its destination. Major outputs of the sub-programme are:
- Appropriate technologies on livestock management and feeding developed and tested including aspects of forage/pasture production and conservation, disseminated and their adoption catalysed.
- Recommended breeding guidelines for key livestock species for the different AEZs availed and their adoption promoted.
- Appropriate disease control technologies for priority livestock diseases developed, validated, availed, disseminated to end-users and adoption catalysed This will include testing/evaluating local ethno-veterinary practices on disease management control/ prevention.
- Appropriate natural resource management technologies and knowledge for extensive grazing systems in open rangelands developed, extended and their adoption promoted.
- Improved range production/productivity/rehabilitation practices developed, validated, disseminated and their implementation catalysed.
- Land use changes/systems particularly in ASAL and related crop/livestock / wildlife/human conflicts characterised and solutions elaborated in collaboration with stakeholders and implementation catalysed.
Sheep and Goats
This sub-programme focuses on breeding, health, management, marketing, and nutrition. The expected outputs are:
- The existing dual purpose goat is multiplied and available to more farmers
- Wool is being addressed as an important commodity in research and at policy level
- Affordable technology for effective management of diseases in goats developed and adoption catalysed.
- Recommendations on improved management of sheep and goats on natural pasture / vegetation developed and adaptation/adoption catalysed.
This sub-programme focuses on important production constraints,
which include management, diseases, and poor marketing, and on emerging
opportunities. Important outputs are:
- Local indigenous poultry characterised for their production potential.
- Improved management practices for local poultry tested, recommendations developed and their adoption catalysed.
- Effective on-farm management practices for control of major poultry diseases
generated and adoption catalysed.
- Better marketing strategies for poultry products developed and adaptation/adoption
This sub-programme focuses on improved productivity of the camel through selection and breeding for higher and economically justifiable lactation yields.
Outputs will be:
- Different camel types fully characterised, information thereof used to recommend appropriate breeding and selection practices for better economic performance and adoption catalysed.
- A camel breeders' association registered to foster production and improvement of Kenyan camels.
- Improved profitable lactation yield under natural range conditions achieved.
- Marketing pathways for camels and camel products determined, constraints and opportunities identified, solutions/new technologies developed and adoption by pastoralists fostered.