In 2015, Ezekiel Muiruri resigned from his job as an accountant at a Nakuru based firm to fully venture into dairy and hay production after finding out that there was shortage of animal feeds.
Kenyan farmers spend about 60 per cent more money in milk and other dairy production costs as compared to their colleagues in the East African region according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
In this, the cost of producing one liter of milk range from Sh20 to Sh25 compared to Sh10 in neighboring countries; Tanzania and Uganda.
Kenya has a more labor intensive dairy sector as compared to neighboring countries which have cheaper and adequate animal feeds ingredients including maize, wheat, sunflower cake and cotton seed cake. In Uganda for example, the staple food is matoke (a banana dish) while dairy farmers in Kenya compete for maize feeds with livestock.
“While working as an accountant I was doing dairy farming as a side hustle, however, I realized that farmers faced challenges such as high costly quality fodder and I decided to find the best way to produce low quality feed through hay production,” said Muiruri
According to a 2013 research by SNV/Kenya Netherlands Development Organisation, dairy farmers’ productivity in Kenya is low due to inadequate use of quality feed and forage. Interlinked with this is that quality feed is costly.
Another factor contributing to low productivity revealed in the research is shortage of appropriate knowledge and skills for dairy production by smallholder farmers. Milk production efficiency is largely determined by feed type and quality, and feeding strategies. Feed constitutes 60-70 per cent of the total dairy production costs.
Muiruri invested Sh400,000 from his savings to build a shade for cows, fence the farm, and bought four more cows at an average of Sh80,000 each.
He has since increased his dairy cows to 20 using artificial insemination services to produce hybrid calves. In this, he milks five getting an average of 20 liters from each.
Hay making method for smallholder farmers
Graduate earns about Sh1m a season from hay production after leaving Sh10,000 salary job
Why he abandoned maize and wheat for hay production
The silage making process at Muiruri’s farm.
“Initially I had started with one dairy cow, five acres of hay and five for silage then increased gradually,” he said.
Currently, Muiruri has leased 15 acres of land at Sh7000 per acre with the farm under hay production.
“From the farm I get between 50 to 200 bales of hay per season, but this varies depending on the weather,” said Muiruri.
Besides feeding the hay to his dairy cows, he sells to local farmers at between Sh130 to Sh290 per bale. The cost varies depending on seasons. During the dry season the cost goes up to Sh290 because the demand is high but during the rainy seasons it retails low at Sh130.
Muiruri can be reached on +254 716 017 547