Hezron Kiprono, a farmer from Kisenana, Mogotio in Baringo County has improved his earnings per sheep by tenfold. This is after he gradually faced off red Maasai sheep for Dorper which matures in six months, faster than the ordinary sheep and can also perform well in dry areas.
According to sheep breeders, under good breeding practices, a mature ram can weigh between 80kg and 114 kg with the ewes weighing 57kg to 80kg. This high yield in meat has been attracting many farmers eager to raise sheep and make profits quickly.
“I used to sell my traditional sheep at Sh1,500 each but since I adopted this new breed my sales have gone high ten times with rams selling at over Sh15,000 each while ewes go from Sh10,000 to Sh15,000,” said Kiprono.
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Dorper sheep breed which is a result of crossing the Dorset Horn and the Blackhead Persian sheep adapts well to tough climatic conditions as they are hardy and they do well even in arid and semi-arid areas.
To adopt the Dorper sheep, Kiprono started selling and crossbreeding his red Maasai sheep with the new breed and by 2003 he had faced off all the local breeds.
“I learned of the Dorper breed during an Agricultural Society of Kenya show in this region in December 1997 when I was still in secondary school and from there I developed an interest in rearing them,” said Kiprono.
Today, the farmer who started with 10 ewes now has over 60 sheep. He spends Sh2,000 every three months on deworming, Sh250 per week to buy acaricides and veterinary consultations cost him Sh1,000.
To his advantage is the fact that he rears the sheep on a free-range system which helps him spend less on feeds.
He has a family and one farmhand who looks after the sheep every day and keeps him informed on their condition while he is away.
Kiprono has since teamed up with other two Dorper sheep farmers in the area and started the Kisanana Dorper Breeders Society, a platform they use to exchange rams for breeding purposes and also sell their sheep.
Their target market is farmers starting in Dorper sheep rearing who are seeking breeding services.
“I do not allow other farmers to bring their ewes into my farm as some of them do not vaccinate their flock and this can be risky in spreading certain diseases or infections to my own. So instead we just sell them the rams,” said Kiprono.
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The sheep especially the rams are also sold for meat. A mature ram can produce between 27-40kg of meat. In a year Kiprono can sell up to 20 rams either for meat or for breeding.
If he sells all the rams for breeding, he can earn up to Sh300,000 gross income while for meat he would earn Sh135,000 which after deducting expenses leaves him with Sh80,000-100,000 net income.
His biggest challenge is the lack of vaccines against diarrhea which attacks the sheep in August every year. Lack of enough space is another problem facing the farmer as his two-acre piece of land cannot allow him to reach his desired target.
Kiprono can be reached on +254 722 361781