A footpath through tall lush grass leads one to a simple timber-walled and iron sheet-roofed twin structure.
In one section of the building is a man feeding Boma Rhodes and nappier grass to a petrol-powered chaff cutter as a small hill of chopped grass forms on the floor.
On the other side of the structure are partitioned sections, with feeding troughs made of concrete. There are walking and resting sections for cows, whose construction is almost complete. On the eastern part is an elevated pen where two six-month-old heifers are housed.
It is here that 29-year-old secondary school leaver Dennis Kirui practices semi-zero dairy farming. He has four pedigree cows and four heifers.
The dairy cows are feeding from a trough in one paddocked section of the far m while heifers quench their thirst from another container in the mid-day sun.
Kirui has focused his energy on expanding his enterprise. He has become a model farmer in Sosit village, four kilometres from Kapkatet township in Bureti Sub-County, Kericho.
Kirui has never employed a labourer. His mother and sister stand in for him on the few occasions he is not around.
The only time the teetotaller leaves the farm is in the evening when he takes a stroll to the trading centre.
Kirui’s dalliance with cows started when he was at Kericho High School. He used the Sh8,000 he had saved as pocket money to buy a heifer.
“I took the decision to go into dairy farming at a young age because our family had problems getting milk. I swore to be a dairy farmer and use the business to feed and educate my family,” he says.
After high school, Kirui was employed as a shop attendant, getting a monthly pay of Sh1,500. He remained at the shop for two years and saved Sh12,000 which he used to buy another cow. He then quit to concentrate on dairy farming.
VACCINATION SCHEDULES AND RECORD-KEEPING
Kirui gets around Sh50,000 every month for supplying milk to Sosit Secondary School and vendors in Kapkatet. One of his cows produces 26 litres of milk a day while the lowest gives him 22.
The initial herd produced 18 litres a day, earning Kirui about Sh12,000 every month. It is the 10 heifers he got through artificial insemination, which form his present herd.
Kirui says he owes his success to Juhudi Kilimo, a micro finance institution that has advanced him loans twice.
“I borrowed Sh80,000 from Juhudi in December 2016. From that amount, I used Sh37,000 to buy the chaff cutter and Sh7,000 for semen from Kericho Veterinary Services. The rest went into buying feeds,” he tells Seeds of Gold.
The loan was advanced to Genesis Youth Group, which has five members, with Kirui as the chairman. The members act as guarantors for the loan while the animals are security.
He repaid the loan in six months instead of 18 and took another of Sh160,000 from the same institution in August last year.
Kirui used the money to build a new structure that he plans to shift his animals to. The farmer says his cows have not had serious diseases. He attributes the situation to adhering to vaccination schedules and record keeping.
A vet is always on call whenever Kiruis’ animals get sick. “This is a well-paying, gratifying and interesting job. It requires little capital,” he says.
Bomet Veterinary Services director Wilson Serem urges farmers to keep records of expenditure and earnings.
“Proper hygiene for animals must be maintained. Give the animals feeds in the required rations if you want to have high yields of quality and quantity,” he says.
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