News and knowhow for farmers

Sahiwal and Jersey cow breeds most suitable for arid and semi-arid areas

sahiwal cow pure

Farmers in dry areas such as Marsabit, Garissa and Turkana are advised to keep Sahiwal and jersey cow breeds which can tolerate harsh weather while at the same time producing at least 25 liters of milk compared to traditional breeds such as zebu that give five liters maximum.

According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization dairy researcher Samuel Tangus, greater proportion of dairy farming is shifting towards low rainfall areas hence change in production cycle.

Last year, for instance farmers in Marsabit lost 60 per cent of their cows due to drought that started in 2016 and persisted to 2017. The drought has left more than 3.4m Kenyans staring at starvation according to the Food and Agriculture Organization as 80 per cent of residents in dry areas depend on livestock to sustain their livelihoods.


Sahiwal breed earns Meru farmer more profit

Nairobi Company launches mobile app to help dairy farmers maintain records

Farmers milking money from dairy farming in West Pokot


Sahiwal is adapted to diverse climatic conditions hence suitable in semi-arid areas. The average maturity weight is 425 kg. At first calving, the mother is usually between 30 to 46 months. It can produce 1574 kg of milk in 393 days lactation period. Milk from Sahiwal cows has high butterfat content.

Sahiwal cow

Sahiwal/Friesan cross

It is Suitable for milk production in the dry areas. Its average milk production is 10 liters per day (2500 liters during the entire lactation period) but if well fed this cow can produce 25 liters per day. Sahiwal has a fast growth rate: they wean at 3 months, heifers are served at 340 kg (22-24 months).

Jersey Cattle

The jersey cows has  feed requirements are lower when compared to other breeds as it can eat half of what Friesian cows eat but still produce the same amount of milk as Friesian.Her average mature weight is 450 kg and can produce 6800 kg of milk under optimal conditions


Jersey cow

To enhance production, Tangus advises farmers to feed on the cows on maize germ, poultry waste, dairy mineral lick, lucerne hay, napier grass, boma Rhodes and desmodium.

According to the Kenya Dairy Board, the country’s dairy sector contributes eight per cent to Kenya’s gross domestic product with an annual estimated milk production of 3.43bn liters per annum from 4.3m cattle population.

The sector is recording an annual growth rate of 4.1 per cent compared to 1.2 per cent of agriculture.

Smallholder farmers make up 80 per cent of the total dairy producers producing 56 per cent of the total milk production in the country.

Get our news into your email inbox every week

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top