Ranching in Kenya
Ranching in Kenya is a livestock production enterprise where a group jointly owns freehold title to land and herd their livestock collectively though they own it individually. Selection of members to ranches in Kenya was based on kinship and traditional land rights.
Ranching is the practice of raising herds of animals on large tracts of land. Ranchers commonly raise grazing animals such as cattle and sheep. Ranching is common in dry areas, in these regions, grazing animals are able to roam over large areas.
Herding is the practice of caring for roaming groups of livestock over a large area. Ranchers often herd animals toward favorable grazing areas. Herding also involves keeping the herd safe from predators and natural dangers of the landscape.
Ranches in Kenya – Group Ranches
Group ranches in Kenya was designed by the Kenya government in consultation with interested parties-Maasai elders and financiers to increase productivity of pastoral lands, improve the earning capacity of pastoralists, avert landlessness, prevent environmental degradation, establish a livestock production system that allows the modernization or modification of livestock husbandry and preserve the traditional way of life without causing social friction.
Beef ranching has been on a downward trend since independence. Most commercial ranches have been bought by land buying companies and co operatives.
Often, the companies and cooperatives have sub-divided the ranch in smaller plots, which are not used for ranching. This has affected livestock production, resulting in under-stocked ranches and reduced beef production.
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Some 159 group ranches in Kenya — 129 in the Rift Valley (Kajiado, Narok, Samburn, Laikipia, Baringo and West Pokot), six in South Nyanza, seven in Eastern Province (Embu and Kitui) and 17 in Coast Province (Taita, Kwale and Kilifi).
In the 2010-2011 Budget, the Government allocated ranching in Kenya Sh330 million ($4.125 million) to rehabilitate 10 ranches for beef production in arid lands and establish two disease-free zone feedlots at the Coast.
Ranching in Kenya – Ranch Animal Identification
Branding is the process of permanently marking an animal to indicate ownership. The traditional brand is known as a hot brand.A rancher heats an iron instrument with a design unique to his ranch. Each animal belonging to that ranch has the design burned into its skin. The scar left by the burn is the animals brand.
Hot brands are less frequently used on modern ranches. Ear-tags and ink tattoos are more common. Many ranchers use microchips instead of brands. A microchip is implanted under the skin of the animal. The microchip uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) to not only identify the animals owner, but also to relay information about its location and health.
Ranching in Kenya – Importance
Livestock raised on ranches are an important part of a regions agriculture. Livestock provide meat for human and animal consumption. They also supply materials, such as leather and wool, for clothing, furniture, and other industries.
Ranching in Kenya – Effects on the Environment
- Ranching is an efficient way to raise livestock to provide meat, dairy products, and raw materials for fabrics. It is a vital part of economies and rural development in Kenya.
- Ranchers clear vast swaths of forest in order to create pastureland for their cattle. This clear cutting reduces habitat for native species such as monkeys, tropical birds, and millions of species of insects.
- Overgrazing leading to soil erosion. The loss of valuable top soil reduces the agricultural productivity for crops and grazing lands.
- Compaction of the soil from animal hooves further degrades the land. Cattle have heavy, flat hooves that flatten the soil and reduce its ability to absorb water and nutrients.
- Livestock ranching also contributes to air and water pollution. Runoff from ranches can include manure, antibiotics and hormones given to the animals, as well as fertilizers and pesticides. Chemicals from tanneries that treat animal hides can also seep into water.
- Ranching is also a major contributor to global warming. In fact, livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation. Manure produces nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. Cattle also release large amounts of methane from their digestive systems.
Ranching in Kenya – Video
Ranches in Kenya
A comprehensive list of all ranches in Kenya, their addresses (postal and physical), contacts (telephone and e-mail) and a link to the ranches in Kenya websites.