A sheep breed that adapts well to tough climatic conditions and matures faster than the ordinary sheep is enjoying fanatical uptake by farmers especially due to its low fat quality meat with farmers getting returns of upto Sh10, 000 per sheep.
Known as dorper, the sheep is said to be hardy and performs well in dry areas. These unrivaled traits have seen the resuscitation of sheep farming in the country which has been on a downward trend in recent years owing to lack of markets. The sheep has become so popular that farmers from neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Rwanda are flocking the country to buy ewes.
"Demand for breeding ewes has been rising far beyond the supply. Farmers from neighbouring countries such as Tanzania have been flocking the Kenya to buy ewes," says Ms Kone Ole-Sein, a dorper farmer from Kajiado County and also the national Secretary of the Dorper Breeders Society of Kenya, an umbrella body that brings together corporate and individual farmers. "Dorper does well on natural pastures, although farmers may offer supplementary feeding during scarcity or based on nutritional requirements.
They are hardy and perform well in low ecological zones," noted Ms OleSein, the proprietor of the 1,700 acre Rimpa Estates in Kiserian. According to Ms OleSein, a breeding ram currently costs between Sh25,000 and Sh40,000 with ewes selling from Sh10,000 to Sh15,000 underscoring the increased monetary value of the dorper. Besides the dietary benefit the dorper sheep breed is said to be hardy and performs well in dry areas.
With the rising demand, large scale farmers and government farms have been breeding rams that are then sold to farmers for multiplication. "We breed rams and then sell to farmers for breeding purposes. Demand for rams is high across the country," says Mr. Cleopas Wahome, a livestock production officer with Naivasha Sheep and Goat Station, a government farm.
The farm has a flock of 550 dorper sheep. According to Mr. Wahome, dorper sheep have a good mothering ability and exhibit a long breeding season. They have good adaptability and are non-selective grazers- making maximum use of available pastures. "When breeding ewes are well man-aged through proper feeding, disease and parasite control, they will bear twinning from the third lambing. They should be properly flushed- fed well be-fore mating to increase the chances of twinning," he says. According to these experts, a mature ram can weigh between 80kg and 114 kg with the eves weighing 57kg to 80 kg. This high yield in meat has attracted many farmers eager to raise sheep and make profits quickly.