Evaluation of Performance of Small Ruminants in Smallholder Climate Smart Villages of Lower Nyando, Kenya
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The productivity of small ruminants in developing countries remains low although the animals play an integral role in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Current information on their productive performance and contribution to the household incomes of smallholder farmers in Eastern Africa is limited. This study was implemented as part of an on-going small ruminant improvement project by the Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kericho and Kisumu Counties of the Lake Victoria basin of Kenya. The objective of this study was to evaluate productive performance and contribution to the household incomes of introduced improved small ruminants to the smallholder Climate Smart Villages of Lower Nyando. The information will contribute to knowledge on the productivity and costs of producing small ruminants and their roles in enhancing livelihoods of smallholder farmers grouped into “Climate Smart Villages”(CSV). Data collated from 162 farms on growth performance of improved indigenous small ruminants (Red Maasai and Red Maasai-Dorper cross sheep, and Galla goat) introduced in the CSV from 2014-2019 was analyzed. Additionally, a cross sectional survey and community focus group discussions were carried out to collate information on the costs and revenues from small ruminants on the smallholder farms. Results showed that land holdings and demographic characteristics of households in the CSV have not changed since 2013, however, the number of improved sheep and goats reared by the farmers had doubled. The introduced improved indigenous breeds and their crosses with local breeds (non-descript Blackhead Persian sheep and Small East African goat) had superior growth performance and were >15 Kg heavier at one year of age compared the local breeds resulting in a three-fold increase in sale prices (from 2014 to 2018) for the animals. The highest revenue was from the sale of both sheep and goats in Kericho and Kisumu representing 82% and 75.1% of the income from the animals respectively. Farmers sold both male and female animals depending on their availability, the anticipated sale price and the existing need for cash in the household. Milk was only obtained from the goats, and this contributed to 5.7% and 5% of the total revenue from the animals in Kericho and Kisumu respectively. Households headed by farmers with non-formal education earned >55% of the returns from their animals compared to those with formal education. In both counties, the net returns from goats (KSH 91,675.90) contributed 70.5% of the total returns compared to that of sheep (KSH 39,790.10). The introduced indigenous breeds had adapted well to the climatic conditions of Nyando and were able to maintain their productivity despite the change in location. Production of improved indigenous sheep and goats in the CSV of Nyando has contributed to higher returns from small ruminant production and should be expanded within the region.
University of Nairobi
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