YOU CAN ALSO MAKE IT IN KENYA,WACHENI BENEFITMay 3 2012 at 9:52 AM
hen Mr Lawrence Njuguna ventured into dairy farming, nobody imagined that his tiny piece of land would one day change his fortunes.
Now, three decades later, the retired primary school teacher does not regret making the investment.
Many people cannot imagine rearing 41 dairy cattle on a half-acre piece of land.
But the 63-year-old Njuguna has done just that on his plot at Ndenderu village in Kiambu. His cattle yield more than 250 litres of milk a day.
I started farming with only two cows, which I bought at Sh2,000, and built a shed for Sh1,500 in 1982, he says.
The peak, he adds, was in 1994 when he had 60 cows. However, he reduced the number because of several constraints, among them lack of animal feeds.
The cows he started with were not of good quality, but with time, Mr Njuguna improved his breeds by using quality semen.
He kept re-investing the profits from the business until he got to the current position of quality cattle breeds that can sell for as high as Sh70,000.
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You dont need a high grade cow to produce more milk; just take good care of the cow by feeding it properly and having regular check-ups by a veterinary officer, he advises.
Today, the father-of-four one boy and three girls and a grandfather-of-10 says he uses semen that costs between Sh5,000 and Sh7,000 to ensure that his cattle sire only heifers. This has seen him breed a cow that produced 42 litres of milk a day.
Breeding is very important in getting quality heifers, which can give good results. I undertake my own artificial insemination, choosing the breed I want.
In 1995, the farmer, popularly known as Mwalimu Njuguna, decided to go back to school to study artificial insemination (AI) so as to improve his livestock.
He later went to study fodder management in the US and is currently studying agrobusiness management at the United States International University.
He is ranked among the best dairy farmers in Kiambu County and scores high in other parts of the country.
On several occasions that we visited his home, we found Mr Njuguna talking to visiting farmers from various regions who want to try similar ventures.
Although many of his peers use the traditional hand-milking method, Mr Njuguna uses an electric machine on his 10 lactating cows.
It makes work efficient and easy, employing less labour. Currently, I have three permanent employees and three casuals. All I do is monitor the operations, assisted by my wife Rosemary Mukami, he says.
He wakes up before 4.30am to supervise the milking and feeding of the animals. He considers dairy farming a full-time job with a good income.
To prevent visitors from spreading disease on his farm, Mr Njuguna sprays magadi soda at the gate.
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