By Alex Muriithi
After giving many businesses a try, Mr. Joseph Murote, had his eyes trained on dairy farming, something that was in his blood from a tender age. He had to hustle as a tout in order to save some cash to enable him buy three heifers. The heifers calved and Mr. Murote began earning from the milk. It took him almost five years to achieve his desired plan of owning 60 cows. He exceeded the target by ten. He runs the farm with much zeal. Located in Ruai, it is known as Mzungu Dairy.
What is it like to be in dairy farming?
“Farming needs a lot of your time in order for it to succeed,” says Mr. Murote. Committing to dairy farming has added fun to his life. He has studied his cows keenly, paid attention to their behaviour and watched how they are handled by employees.
Mr. Murote is passionate about dairy farming. “When I am near the cows, I feel relaxed – it’s like undergoing therapy,” he says. Primarily, he has learnt that the crux of dairy farming lies in identifying and getting good fodder.
“Every farmer should take care while managing his or her farm, most important of all is fodder management: the production will depend on how well your cows have had enough,” he affirms.
He further points out that serious farmers ought to have silage as the cattle’s premier source of nutrition. “With silage, a farmer is assured of high milk production because it is rich in nutrients,” he emphasizes. Currently, his herd has dropped to twenty cows and two calves. The drop in the number was as a result of joining politics because he spent a fortune in financing his campaign. This forced him to sell part of his herd. With the current number, he makes 80 litres of milk daily. He prefers selling it to retailers rather than wholesalers in order to make more profit.
He sells his milk at Kshs. 70 per litre which sums up to Kshs. 5,600. After all the expenses are deducted, Mr. Murote is left with a profit of Kshs.4, 000. He owns a one acre farm where he grows napier grass for the cows. In addition, he gets more feeds from Kayole market.
His undying efforts to sustain the farm have benefited the community. He has mentored many people on dairy farming and some are even doing better than him. “I have mentored very many people and I recently visited some of them and I am glad to say that they are doing better than me,” he points out.
To ensure that his farm is on the right track, Mr. Murote takes great care on what his cows are feeding on. “Proper nutrition for dairy cows is important for their health and optimal milk production,” he avers. He has two staff members who assist him in managing the farm, while his wife assists in selling milk.
The dairy farming industry has its fair share of challenges, just like other forms of business. At some point, an outbreak of disease almost wiped out Mr. Murote‘s herd. The market is also often flooded with adulterated milk and this makes customers to opt for the packaged one. “Investing in dairy farming needs to be done in a cautious manner in order to optimize efficiency in the utilization of the available resources,” he says. “To avoid burning their fingers, farmers should learn how to take calculated risks,” he adds. The ambitious farmer is looking forward to setting up a butter and cheese processing firm in the near future.