Located a few kilometers from Meru town in Nkando village, South Imenti, is a farm known as the “Home of Friesians.” The over half-acre farm, owned by Nicholas Kirimi, boasts a cowshed, napier grass, maize, and sweet potato vines for the animals. Kirimi inherited the land from his grandfather and set out on the project three years ago with the goal of commercializing his venture.
Kirimi used his savings to purchase two Friesian heifers at 50,000 shillings each and employed two workers to manage the project while he worked as a cameraman at the county government. He has since expanded his herd to eight cows, seven of which are Friesians and one an improved Ayrshire. He milks the two cows he started with, getting 20 liters from each every day.
Kirimi has invested in a generator-driven chaff cutter to chop the napier grass and potato vines into smaller pieces. He also adds molasses to dry maize stalks to make them more palatable for the cows and feeds them dairy meal to boost milk production for those that are lactating. He sells his milk in Meru town at 55 shillings per liter and makes about 20,000 shillings in profit per month.
Kirimi’s dream is to fully enter into dairy farming in the near future and to have 15 cows to make the venture more profitable as he improves his breeds. He also faces challenges such as the high cost of commercial feeds and artificial insemination. Despite these challenges, he believes that farming is a good option for young people as long as they are resilient and patient.
According to Meru County Director of Livestock David Mugambi, Ayrshires and Friesians are good breeds that do well in many areas across the county, including in Meru. He attributes low production of milk to underfeeding cows and notes that the best feeds for increased milk production are silage and Boma Rhodes grass.