The beef production systems practiced in Kenya includes
- Nomadic Pastoralism
- Feedlot system
Nomadic pastoralism involves a seasonal pattern of movement around a more or less regular pattern. It is the most environmentally sustainable livelihood in the arid and semi arid areas. This system is practiced predominantly in Northern Kenya and southern rangelands.
Ranching is a form of beef production system practiced within a defined unit of land. In a ranch it is possible to maintain optimal stocking rates conserve, and preserve pasture and develop livestock support facilities such as dips and water points. This system is practiced in both arid and semi arid areas
This is a production system practiced in semi- arid parts of the country where beef farming is practiced alongside crop farming. Beef farming and crop farming complement each other through livestock feeding on crop residues and crop farming benefiting from manure and animal draught power.
These are units where immature are intensively put on a feeding regime purposely to fatten so as to attain a specific market weight prior to being sold. The animals are confined like in the zero grazing units in dairy production and are fed on high-energy concentrates. This system is not in use in the arid lands of Kenya.
General Management of the Beef Herd
Breeding involves the selection of highly performing animals in the herd and introducing superior qualities/characteristics into the herd for the purpose of increased production.
Cattle production in the ASAL areas is free range, often in communal grazing and shared water points. In order to improve the herd productivity, it is important that livestock keepers control and manage the breeding calendar.
In order to make decisions on breeding the most important prerequisite would be keeping records of the animals involved. The following are some of the important records.
- Pedigree Records
These are records that trace the lineage of an animal both parents.
- Performance Records
These records reflect an animal’s performance in their lifetime.
Improvement of beef cattle by selection Animals can be improved significantly by selecting superior traits within the herd and multiplying them so as to preserve them.
This is important because it determines the intensity of selection. The higher the population from which the selection is to be done, the higher the section intensity, hence the higher their genetic gain per unit time.
This is the age of the parents at the birth of their first calf. The smaller the generation interval, the higher the genetic gain within a given time.
In order to maximize economic gains in the selection programme, the management levels of the herd should be optimal. This will reduce the environmental variances, which suppress the expression of the genotype.
Selection of the Bull
The bull to be selected should have the following qualities:
- Be from a good dam and sire,
- Have evenly placed teats and well hanging
- Not related to cows in the herd to avoid
- Have good conformation for beef