About 90 per cent of meat production in Kenya is in the hands of subsistence farmers and pastoralists. Today, the population of beef and dairy cattle is about 15 million with large scale livestock farmers keeping animals for commercial and subsistence purposes. The distribution of beef cattle is influenced by rainfall patterns. Most animals are kept in ranches in the Rift Valley Province, especially in Nakuru, Trans Nzoia and Kajiado.
Red meat production in Kenya is estimated at 390,000 metric tonnes with the bulk of the supply coming from ASAL areas. According to information from Ministry of agriculture, annual meat production is estimated at beef (320,000 metric tonnes), sheep and goats (70,000 MT), poultry meat 20,000 MT, pigs 11,000 MT and camel meat 6,600 MT (2007).
A small proportion of the beef supply comes from the dairy herds. Animals are kept in ranches in the Rift valley, particularly Nakuru, Trans Nzoia and Kajiado. Bigger ranches are in Kilifi and Kwale at the coast. Small scale beef farming is practiced in many parts of Kenya. Interest in the sub-sector from investors is growing. Investors have expressed interest in meat processing for products destined for Mauritius and the middle East.
Kenya’s sheep population alone stands at close to 10 million, with the Maasai alone having more than one million. Most of the sheep is indigenous and does well in arid and semi-arid areas. The exotic breeds are in cooler and wetter highlands in Molo, Timau and Nyandarua.
Kenya has about 14 million goats, most of them for meat and milk production. Maasai, Boran, Turkana and Pokot communities keep most of the goat, which are maintained in areas where the environmental conditions make it prohibitive to keep other domestic animals.
Pig farming is well developed and the country has about 500,000 pigs. Some of the pig breeds are large white (Yorkshire), Middle white, Berkshire, Wessex saddle black and Landrace. In Kenya, the chicken is the most important class of poultry although ducks, turkeys and geese are also produced though at a lower scale.
Over the years, the poultry industry has developed due to the demand for meat and eggs, particularly in the urban areas. Poultry numbers are estimated at 30 mil-lion. The most important poultry trade is centered on hybrids developed by cross-breeding pure lines.