Raising a charolais bull for beef at a feed scarce region can earn a farmer more than Sh170,000 per year than rearing a dairy calf, which takes up to 25 months for one to start milking.
Musa Musa of Kabarak Farm Limited said the charolais breed is hardy and has a high feed to meat conversion rate than most dual, beef and dairy cattle.
“The chalorais is a quick money maker bull that does not require special attention in feeding. On free-range, one bull can sufficiently feed on any available grass, including dry, which local and dairy cattle reject,” he said.
On one acre
For a farmer who has one acre, Musa said, half can be dedicated to growing grass like Boma Rhodes for hay. With application of fertiliser at growing and top dressing, a single harvest gives 250 bales of hay. Harvesting is done thrice or four times a year translating to about 750 bales.
Even if the beast consumes two bales per day, still the grass is sufficient because of the free-range system that allows for the animal to pick other feeds.
Because of the feeding on dry matter, it may require water ranging from 60 litres to 80 litres per day.
“This bull was born on April 27, 2015. It weighs 540 kilogrammes. Selling it now at farm price can fetch more than Sh170,000,” he said during Nakuru Agricultural Society of Kenya Show, 2016.
Money maker bull
At the Kabarak Farm, one kilogramme of beef is sold at Sh320. If the one-year bull he had at the ASK show were to be sold, it could fetch Sh172,800.
The cost of meat per kilogramme in Nairobi varies between Sh350 and Sh400. Taking an average of Sh375 per kilo, the bull would earn Sh202,500.
Rearing a dairy calf from day one takes 25 months to give the first cup of milk. A dairy heifer is ready for service after 16 months; it will be in-calf for nine more months.
If it were to be sold at 12 months like the charolais, it can hardly fetch Sh100,000.
Sahiwal, Zebu and other local breeds require more than two years to attain 500kg.
Another bull, which the farmer presented in the show, was born in April 2013. It weighed 766 kg while another four-year-old beast, which was crowned the champion, is 1.1 tonnes.
Besides the Kabarak farm, Solio Ranch also breeds the charolais.
Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Centre authorised artificial insemination officers also offer the service at about Sh1,000.
Strong local, breeds can be upgraded with the charolais semen. But he warns that an animal health expert must approve the upgrade because weaker breeds cannot carry the resultant weight after birth.
Charolais bulls originated from France.
PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT