Cattle, goats, sheep and camel production on the range: the Kenya experience
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A discussion. Rangelands sustain about 76% of the total population of cattle, goats, sheep and camels in Kenya. The animals are owned mostly by nomads. The main activity in the region, pastoralism, is sustainable through the indigenous stock and is capable of meeting the food and social obligations of the community beside providing surplus for sale. Ruminants (and breeds) used in rangeland production in pastoral or ranching systems are Somali, Rendille and Turkana camels, Maasai and Boran cattle, Galla, Maasai and Turkana goats, and Maasai, Somali and Turkana sheep. Productivity coefficients and breeding indices similar to those in other commercial ranching and livestock systems in the tropics are achieved in the Kenyan range. Animal productivity from the range is mainly constrained by the harsh environment, poor management of scarce resources and socio-economic and technical factors in the present system. Strategic afforestation involving the support and active participation of local people and location of boreholes and mineral supplements along nomadic routes of grazing are recommended for improving livestock and range productivity. This should be coupled with a cost-effective herd health programme that includes vaccinations against common diseases to improve herd replacement rates. Proper management of young stock as well as the benefits from continued keeping of multiple animal species were emphasized. Regular disposal of animals to markets in high population areas was suggested to ensure that livestock numbers matched the resources of the range in a sustainable manner.