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    The cagey beast sucks blood from the sheep leaving them to die a slow painful death.

    Farmers in Kenya’s bread basket of Uasin Gishu County are counting losses over a spate of attacks on their livestock especially sheep by a mysterious animal. The cagey beast sucks blood from the sheep leaving them to die a slow painful death.

    More than 50 sheep in different homesteads within Kesses constituency have so far been attacked and killed by the beast in a span of two weeks. Local farmers are now in a panic mode as the beast unleashes terror at night when everybody is fast asleep.

    The cost of one sheep in Eldoret town is approximately Ksh. 6500 but the price varies depending on seasons. The farmers have thus incurred losses of more than 325,000 shillings.

    The farmers from Asururiet village are threatening to take the law into their hands as the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) have not responded to their grievances despite repeated pleas to take action.

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    “We are calling on all relevant agencies to act before we lose all our animals” says Philip Kemboi, one of the affected farmers who lost eighteen (18) sheep.

    The Kenya Wildlife Service has however distributed compensation forms to the farmers to avert the losses incurred by the farmers.

    Veterinary officers in the area have warned farmers to avoid consuming the meat of the affected animals as consuming it would endanger their lives.

    Uasin Gishu County Veterinary services director Joseph Njuguna said the county government would dispose the carcasses by burning them to prevent the possibility of disease transmission.

    milk cowA smallholder dairy farmer in Bomet is inspiring fellow farmers to embrace low cost zero grazing to increase milk production and tame disease spread, at a time when limited pasture has seen most farmers   graze their animals outside.

    Scenes of cows and goats grazing in paths and roads especially in rural areas are common place. This has been occasioned by dwindling pasture that has either forced farmers to sell off some of their cows, or let them scavenge looking for pasture. And therein lies the problem. Scientists say cows that are let to move around have been noted to produce less milk than those that are fed are confined. Again the scavenging cows have been identified as the biggest carriers of diseases and pests.

    Rose Chepkwony a farmer in Bomet county was in a similar situation. Her small farm could not take care of her three cows and so she decided to let them scavenge for pasture. But the milk output was dismal and she was always spending money on treating them. Her light bulb moment when she attended a farmer training programme and was advised on how to create a low cost zero grazing unit which would ensure that the cows enjoyed equal feeds which would in turn boost their milk production.  Two years she boasts of 14 cows and five calves with an Ayshire cow that used to give her 12 litres of milk now giving her 28 litres. “I had really become frustrated since milk was my only source of income and that is what I used to rely on to feed my family and pay my children's school fees. Now in my small quarter of an acre piece of land, I am earning more than I can imagine,” Rose said.

    After training she sourced for locally available materials like eucalyptus tree to construct the roof while the timber was used to construct the feeding trough. She started with a structure that accommodated three cows and only expanded whenever she got a new cow. The only major expense was buying cement and iron sheets. “Seeing the difference that this made and how relaxed my cows were which increased their milk production, I decided to increase the size of my herd,” sh said.

    That took two loans and bought to high value cows.

    “But just having a nice structure doesnt increase milk production. Good feeding mechanisms count aloy,” Rose said.

    She has perfected the art of feeding her cows with all the nutrients while insulating herself from the skyrocketing conventional feed prices. She makes and mixes various animal foods that she grows or sources locally like fishmeal and legumes. Not far from where she lives she has rented half-an-acre land where grows wonder shrubs like Lucerne and desmodium.

    Five of her cows are milked, which earns her on average Sh100,000 every month by selling her milk to New KCC and local hotels.

    She has become a model farmer with smallholder farmers coming from far and wide to learn about fodder management and zero grazing. “The biggest problem for smallholder dairy farmers currently is the feeds. With rains having failed and prices of feeds going astronomically high, farmers have to innovate if they are to survive. I welcome them to come see how I have,” Rose said.

    For more information contacts below:

    Contact: Rose Chepkwony

    Number: 0723037754.

    Sub-Saharan Africa livestock emit over 50 percent of global carbon, one of the gases blamed for change in climate, due to their overreliance on grasses and crop leftovers after harvest which are poor quality feeds according to a new report published by three international research institutions.

    Researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute, the Common wealth Scientific, Industrial Research Organization and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis set out to analyze the carbon emissions by livestock from various parts of the world with varied feeding patterns.

    They identified 8 different types of livestock systems in 28 geographic regions which included Africa, North America and Europe. They estimated number of cattle, small ruminants, pigs and poultry for each system for the year 2000. They also estimated greenhouse gas emissions produced by the livestock in that year for each region, system and species of animals

    The results of their study showed that the quality of feed consumed by livestock contributes greatly to the amounts of greenhouse gases that they emit, with African cattle leading in the intensity of the gases released. “Cattle scrounging for food in the arid lands of Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan can, in the worst cases, release the equivalent of 1,000 kilos of carbon for every kilo of protein they produce. Comparatively, in many parts of the United States and Europe, the emission intensity is around 10 kilos of carbon for a kilo of protein,” said a brief report highlighting the study.

    African cattle thrive on low-quality rangeland grass or crop residue of low nutritional value, thus consuming huge amounts to produce meat or milk, and emitting large quantities of carbon into the environment, according to the report’s lead author, Mario Herrero, a chief research scientist with Australia-based CSIRO. “The study showed that the quality of an animal’s diet makes a major difference in both feed efficiency (ability to convert food to protein) and emission intensity,” Herrero added.

    The report indicated that cattle are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases worldwide, producing 77 percent of emissions whereas pork and poultry release only 10 percent, noting that cattle and other ruminants in Latin America, South Asia and Africa alone produce 75 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

    In terms of feed, the study noted that livestock across the world consume about 1.3 billion tons of grain annually, with African animals consuming about 50 million tons of that, relying more on grasses and crop leftovers after harvest. Mariana Rufino, a Kenya-based senior climate scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research, said that improved feeds would greatly raise production while cutting emissions.

    According to the scientists, policymakers need comprehensive data on livestock production systems and their environmental impacts globally to enable them design effective interventions. “This information will allow the global-change research community in enhancing our understanding of the sustainability of livestock systems and their role in food security, livelihoods and environmental sustainability,” the researchers wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


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