The Uasin Gishu County subsidized semen programme is bearing fruit for the dairy sector, the county director veterinary services Dr. Philip Biama has said.
The programme which is a collaboration between Uasin Gishu county government and dairy cooperatives societies across the county has seen over 118,200 artificial inseminations conducted since the programme’s conception in 2013.
Dr. Biama says the county successfully inseminated 22,000 dairy cows between July 2020 and June 2021.
“The insemination has a success rate of 62 percent which means over 13,640 heifers have been conceived within the period,” he said.
Dr. Biama said to ensure they acquire high quality Kenyan genetic breed the county signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kenya Animal Genetic Resource Centre, (KAGRC), where they source over 80 percent of the semen needed to inseminate the animals.
“The remaining 20 percent, which is purely gender-sorted semen is imported,” he adds
After acquiring the semen from KAGRC it is then distributed to the farmers, with conventional semen given free of charge, while the gender-sorted semen provided at a fee of Sh1500 a considerable reduction compared to Sh6000 before the subsidy programme.
KAGRC, Dr. Biama added, are also providing extension officers with 46 three-litre semen tanks which have been extremely helpful in the storage and transportation of semen to farmers.
Although the programme is making headway, Dr, Biama hinted the county is facing a number of challenges, including farmers failing to register their animals with the Kenya Livestock Breeders, Association, (KLBA) making it difficult to identify animals in different stages of breeding.
“Until the end of last year we had only registered a total of 11,000 animals out of the possible 250,000 dairy animals in the county which is less than 5 percent of the total,” he said.
Dr. Biama further explained that due to its improved nature, farmers were opting to sell heifers as they fetch good price in the market. A bred heifer can fetch as high as Sh 100,000 compared to Sh 20,000 for an ordinary heifer.
Despite the challenges, the veterinary officer believes the project has been successful in improving the genetic makeup of livestock in the county.
According to Mrs. Margret Gachucha, the Uasin Gishu county senior livestock production officer, the county has over 80 milk cooling plants with each having a capacity of 3000 litres.
“These milk cooling plants are underutilized,” she said “That is the main reason why we are trying as much as possible to improve the breeds of livestock in this county, because improved breeding equals increased milk production,” she said.