Factors influencing Milk production in Samburu Central District, Kenya
Nganga, Francis G
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The aim of this study was to examine the factors that influence milk production in Samburu Central District, Samburu County. The study adopted a descriptive survey research design to carry out the study. The study population included 286 pastoralists in households within Samburu Central District. Twenty four key respondents that included agricultural officers, extension officers, livestock development officers, program officers and administration officers were used in the study. Households were stratified in terms of divisions. Systematic random sampling was used to sample out the households. Purposive sampling was also used to sample out the other respondents. The data collection instruments used included the questionnaire for pastoralists in households and an interview guide for the other key respondents. The study established that genetic factors such as type of breed influences milk production. Indigenous cattle breed - Zebu - (62.1%) was the most preferred by pastoralists in Samburu Central District. This breed produce low quantities of milk (1 - 2 litres per session) compared to exotic cattle breeds (above 3 litres per session) which are few in the area. Indigenous cattle breeds were also found to have a lower lactation length of below 200 days and calving interval of below 400 days which influences their milk yield. The study also established that 72.7% of the respondents had not gone beyond primary education. On the environmental factors which influence milk production; long distance to the water points, failure to control diseases and parasites that attack livestock, poor feeding habits for the animals adopted by pastoralists and lack of government intervention were noted as key deterrents to milk production in the area. On ways that can be adopted by pastoralists and dairy farmers to improve milk yields in the district there was need to practice the following: ensure there is proper feeding, cross breed the local breeds with exotic ones, land subdivision to minimize spread of diseases and encourage ownership, practice proper animal husbandry, use artificial insemination services, improve literacy levels among pastoralists, formation of Sacco's, formation of cooperative societies, government interventions by offering subsidies in drugs and vaccines, building of dams, sinking boreholes and recruitment of livestock and veterinary extension officers.