News and knowhow for farmers

Insemination services near Kenyan farmers as State sets up new freezing facilities

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Poor artificial insemination techniques are
some of the reasons hindering the growth of the dairy industry in Kenya.

inferior semen in use and inefficient distribution mechanisms to farmers has greatly
contributed to the increase of low quality cow breeds in Kenya, and Africa,
resulting in reduced milk production and inferior quality meat.

Research in
the past few centuries has involved the use of selective breeding techniques
the result in high-yielding dairy breeds, like the Holstein-Fresian, which produce
a minimum of 5000 litres per year.

In comparison,
indigenous cows, such as the Maasai Zebu, although very well adapted for their
environment, produce 5-10 times less milk.

this large discrepancy, many developing world countries are striving to improve
milk yields—and therefore farmers’ incomes and food security—by crossing the
genetics of these selectively-bred cows with the hardy indigenous cattle.
Artificial insemination is the prevailing method used to accomplish this goal.

Artificial insemination, at its simplest,
requires that semen be collected from a well-bred bull, and inserted into a cow
on heat.

A lot of
research and development has enabled semen to be cryogenically frozen with
liquid nitrogen, a technique that preserves it, almost indefinitely, as it is
transported to where it is needed. However, in countries like Kenya, opportunities
exist for the degradation of semen as it is being transported, making it in
effective when it arrives to rural locations where it is needed.

It is against the backdrop of these
challenges that the Kenya Animal Genetics Resources Centre (KAGRC), is working
to ensure that it has enough preservation facilities around the country.

KAGR  is a State Corporation that was established in,
2011 as a successor of the Central Artificial Insemination Station (CAIS),  which was founded in 1946. The Centre is involved
in the production, preservation and conservation of genetic material- semen,
embryos, tissues- and live animals.

To keep up with the increasing demand for
its services, KAGRC recently acquired four liquid nitrogen plants stationed in
Nairobi, Eldoret, Meru and Nyahururu. Immediate plans involve setting two more
liquid nitrogen substations, in Sotik and Kirinyaga

At its optimum, KAGRC will produce 1.5
million straws of semen every year, in order to meet the local and export

KAGRC believes that using its semen, it
only requires 1.2 -1.4 inseminations, for conception to be achieved, if all
other factors are right.

In addition, the centre has rolled out an SMS based bull
advisory system, which will provide timely breeding information to farmers upon
request, something KAGRC believes will “reduce inbreeding, leading to improved
production and profitability in addition to empowering famers with relevant
skills on livestock management practices.”

For the services, farmers are required to
send an SMS with their question to short code number 22678
at a cost of Sh1 per message.

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