Is sheep farming profitable in Kenya? In this blog post, we will give show you how to determine costs and profits of a sheep farm. The post will use the cost and benefits analysis method for setting up and running a sheep farm. Besides, you will learn about their weather requirements, breeding and feeding methods, sheep breeds, as well challenges of sheep farming in Kenya.
Why sheep farming?
There are many benefits of sheep farming in Kenya. While the major goals include producing wool, meat, milk and manure here are the other advantages for you.
- Flexible; sheep farming is a flexible animal keeping enterprise. You can raise them in ranches, small farms or on enclosures in towns. This makes it suitable for the landless, women and children. Besides sheep are hardy animals which makes them fit for any climatic region in Kenya
Related; Sheep breeds in Kenya
- Profitable; Sheep farming has a high return on investment. The lambs mature at only five months. They also require less cost to raise because of their strong stocking instinct which require few shepherds. Finally, Sheep give birth of kids frequently, so the size of your herd will be large within a short period.
- Sustainable; Sheep are browsers by nature, they survive by consuming low quality grass. This makes it one of most sustainable agribusinesses that can provide income and jobs while caring for environment.
Facts about sheep farming in Kenya
Is there money in sheep farming? To answer you, we have given you production and demand data for sheep and their products such as meat and wool in Kenya
- In 2023, the price for Kenya Mutton is between US$ 5.51 and US$ 5.41 per kilogram or between US$ 2.5 and US$ 2.45 per pound (lb).The price in Kenyan Shilling is KES 599.87 per kg.
- In 2019, Kenya has 17.129 million sheep. As of 2020, Kenya’s sheep stock was to 25.3 million heads.
How to start commercial sheep farming in Kenya
Given the above information, sheep farming is one of the most profitable ventures in Kenya. To determine how to start and run one, we will give you a simplified farmer’s guide on how to select the breeding stock (ewes and rams), lambing, lamb nutrition, weaning, diseases and parasites and culling.
Wondering if sheep can do well in your area? Successful sheep production in any region of Kenya will require some careful attention to the specific needs of the sheep, including nutrition, healthcare, and shelter, as well as consideration of local environmental and climatic conditions.
The most ideal climate for sheep rearing in Kenya is a semi-arid to arid climate. Meat sheep such as the black headed breed are well adapted to these conditions. These areas include parts of Turkana, Samburu, Marsabit, Isiolo, Wajir, Mandera, and Garissa counties. Wool sheep such as Merino are raised in the highlands of Kenya such as Nyandarua County these have cooler and wetter conditions.
Sheep Breeding and Feeding methods in Kenya
Which is the best way of raising sheep in Kenya? There are 3 common types of sheep farming in Kenya, they are open field grazing, zero grazing and semi-grazing methods. Each is briefly explained.
- Grazing: This is the cheapest method of farming sheep in Kenya, you will allow sheep to graze in open pastures. It is best if you have adequate and high-quality forage, water, and shade. The type of sheep that is well-suited to grazing includes breeds like the East African Blackhead, Red Maasai, and Dorper.
- Stall-feeding: Also known as zero grazing, it involves confining the sheep in an enclosed space, where they are fed with cut and carry forages or commercial concentrates. Stall-feeding is suitable for all types of sheep, including exotic breeds like Suffolk and Hampshire.
- Mixed feeding: This involves combining grazing and stall-feeding methods, where the sheep are allowed to graze during the day and are then confined and fed in stalls during the night.
Which is the best Sheep breeding method in Kenya for quality lambs. It can be done through both natural and artificial methods. These include the natural mating, Artificial insemination (AI) and embryo transfer. AI is becoming increasingly popular among farmers as it leads to higher conception rates, improved genetics and reduced disease transmission.
Which Sheep Breed should you keep in Kenya?
Looking for the most profitable sheep breed to keep in Kenya? The most common sheep breeds in Kenya are the Dorper, the Merino, and the East African black head. The choice of breed will depend on the farmer’s goals, available resources, and management practices.
The East African Blackhead is a hardy breed that is well-adapted to grazing and is resistant to most common sheep diseases in the region. The Red Maasai is another hardy breed that is known for its resistance to internal and external parasites and is well-suited to the arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya. The Dorper is a fast-growing and adaptable breed that can thrive in different climatic conditions and is suitable for both meat and wool production.
Costs and Profits of sheep farming in Kenya
To start and run a profitable sheep farming, start by writing a business plan. It will outline your farms economic operations such as production and marketing.
The initial investment costs for sheep farming in Kenya can vary depending on the scale of the operation and the equipment used. The main costs include buying land, breeding stock, equipment, and labor. The cost of land varies depending on location, but it typically ranges from KES 20,000 to KES 50,000 per acre. The cost of breeding stock can also vary depending on the breed and the quantity needed, but it typically ranges from KES 10,000 to KES 50,000 per head. Equipment costs can include things such as fencing, housing, and feeding equipment, and can range from KES 30,000 to KES 50,000. Labor costs will depend on the number of workers needed, and can range from KES 10,000 to KES 20,000 per acre.
Operating costs for sheep farming in Kenya include feed, veterinary services, and marketing. The cost of feed can range from KES 20,000 to KES 30,000 per acre, while the cost of veterinary services can range from KES 5,000 to KES 10,000 per acre. Marketing costs will depend on the type of marketing strategy used, but can range from KES 10,000 to KES 20,000 per acre.
The current market prices for sheep meat in Kenya range from KES 400 to KES 600 per kilo, and for wool from KES 30 to KES 50 per kilo. The potential profits and returns on investment for sheep farming in Kenya can be quite high, with farmers earning a profit of KES 100,000 to KES 250,000 per acre, depending on the scale of the operation and the management practices.
Challenges and Risks of sheep farming
Like any farming venture, sheep farming in Kenya comes with its own set of challenges and risks. Disease management is a major concern, with diseases such as pneumonia, tick-borne fever, and parasites posing a significant threat to the sheep. Weather and climate risks, such as floods and droughts, can also negatively impact the crop. Market fluctuations and competition from other farmers and imported products can also affect the profitability of sheep farming in Kenya.
To mitigate these risks, farmers can implement good breeding and management practices such as vaccination, deworming and tick control, proper housing and feeding. Additionally, farmers can also diversify their income streams by also producing sheep milk, cheese, and wool products, which can fetch higher prices in the market.
In conclusion, sheep farming in Kenya is a profitable venture for farmers. Sheep meat and wool are in high demand in the Kenyan market, and the costs and profits of sheep farming in Kenya are favorable. While there are challenges and risks involved, these can be mitigated with proper planning, management practices, and diversification. For those interested in starting a sheep farming business in Kenya, it is important to research the best practices, seek advice from experienced farmers, and explore different income streams. The future outlook for sheep farming in Kenya is positive, with increasing demand and potential for growth in the industry.