Dairy Farming in Kenya

Dairy Farming In Kenya

Dairy Farming In Kenya

Dairy Farming is a branch of agriculture that deals with the breeding, raising, and utilization of dairy animals, primarily cows, for the production of milk and the various dairy products processed from it.

In this article, we will discover the preferred dairy breeds, challenges facing the dairy farming in Kenya and the benefits too;

Common dairy Cow breeds in Kenya

For successful dairy farming, a farmer needs to choose certain breeds of cows.

Below is a list to choose from:


Originating from the Netherlands, they have distinctive black and white markings.

The average weight is 500-550kg while at birth, a healthy Friesian can weigh.

This dairy cow has the highest capacity to produce milk, with a low butterfat content of about 3.2%.

Under good management can yield 40-60 litres of milk/per day.


This one originated from Scotland and is known to be an efficient grazer.

Body colour is Brown and white patches in almost equal amounts.

The breed is known for the superior shape and quality of her udder.

The components of her milk make her suitable for producing butter and cheese.

The average size will be between 450- 600kg.

They produce up to 30 litres/day with a butterfat content of about 4.0%.


The Guernsey breed originated in England. The colour will vary from yellow to reddish-brown with white patches.

The average body weight is 500-450kg and gives 25 litres of milk /per day under good management.

It can provide 25 litres /day under good management with a moderate butterfat content of about 4.3%.


The Jersey breed originated in England, on the Island of Jersey. They are small to medium-sized with an average body weight of 350-400kg.

The Jersey cow is known to be adaptable to various climatic and geographical conditions.

With its small size, Jersey produces more milk per body weight than any other breed.

They can give up to 22 litres of milk /per day under good management.

Their milk has a high butterfat content of about 5.3% making it preferable for making cheese.

Holstein Cattle Breed

Holstein-Friesian Cattle is the highest milk-production dairy animal in the world.

A mature Holstein weighs 680-770kg with colour patterns of black and white and red and white.

Under better conditions, this dairy cattle produces approximately 80 litres per day.

Benefits of Dairy Farming In Kenya

Several factors favour dairy farming in Kenya. This is for the farmer who chooses to delve into the business of dairy farming;

Export Potential

By maintaining high standards of milk quality and adhering to international trade regulations, Kenya has the opportunity to tap into the global dairy market.

This not only brings in foreign exchange but also fosters economic growth and development within the country.

Empowering Smallholder Farmers

Dairy farming empowers smallholder farmers, especially women, by providing a steady source of income and enhancing food security.

Many rural families in Kenya rely on dairy farming as their primary source of livelihood, enabling them to support their households and invest in education and healthcare.

The economic impact of dairy farming in Kenya

According to recent statistics, dairy farming contributes around 15%-40% to Kenya’s agricultural GDP.

The average milk profit earned by a dairy farmer was KES 12.20 per litre.

Among different grazing practices, semi-zero grazers achieve the highest profit at KES 14.27, while zero-grazing dairy farming experiences the lowest profit at KES 8.57.

Soil fertility improvement

Dairy farming also plays an important role in soil fertility improvement. While practising zero-grazing dairy farming, the large amounts of manure produced by the cows are used as a natural fertilizer by organic farmers.

The thing is, this manure is rich in essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.


With good agronomic practices, dairy farming is very profitable and a dairy farmer can earn upwards of KES 16,000 per month per cow.

Not only does the farmer earn through selling milk but also through other avenues such as selling calves and cattle for meat production, selling manure and selling dairy products such as yoghurt and ghee.

Challenges facing dairy farming in Kenya

Despite dairy farming having benefits, the field is also faced with challenges. These challenges include:

Expensive input costs

To enhance milk production, farmers must purchase feeds and supplements for their cows – these feeds are quite costly.

Furthermore, the cost of regular fodder is becoming increasingly problematic due to unpredictable weather patterns.

The small-scale dairy farming in Kenya which is the most practiced is the one that gets affected the most. When the prices go high, most of them close the business and turn the milk into home consumption.

Inadequate infrastructure

Milk being highly perishable, it is likely to go bad before it gets to the market, more so during peak and rainy seasons.

With bad roads, transporting the milk to the market is like giving away the milk to perish on the road.

Poor technology

Since we are still in an underdeveloped country, some technologies have not yet been introduced.

This in turn makes it hard for progress to occur as compared to countries like Israel which has invested much in farming.

This normally affects the small-scale dairy farming in Kenya compared to the large-scale ones which seem well invested.

Pests and diseases

In certain times that a wave of tsetse flies attacks the animals, the farmer incurs losses. Other than tsetse flies, the cows get attacked by diseases like,

  • Bleeding calf syndrome
  • Bovine Tuberculosis.
  • Bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD) Brucellosis.
  • Calf Pneumonia.
  • Digital dermatitis.
  • Rinder pest
  • Anthrax

Small-scale dairy farming in Kenya is mostly get affected by Anthrax and Rinder pests. The large-scale farmers are now the ones on the verge of getting affected by all the above-mentioned diseases.

To avoid these, the farmer is advised to avoid damp areas and areas with a history of tsetse fly infections.


In conclusion, starting and maintaining a successful dairy farm in Kenya involves careful planning, dedication, and a commitment to ongoing improvement.

By laying a strong foundation, implementing effective management practices, and staying attuned to market trends, you can navigate the challenges and reap the rewards of a thriving dairy farming venture. Those are the key factors that favour dairy farming in Kenya


1. What is zero-grazing dairy farming in Kenya?

A farm structure designed to provide sleeping, feeding and milking facilities

2. Climatic factors that favour dairy farming in Kenya

Cool and wet areas most preferably highland areas.

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