For the past year, David Gakuo and his business partner Betty Gikonyo have reaped benefits from venturing
where no one else in Kenya had dared to.
The two veterinary doctors saw an opportunity in the beef industry and grabbed it. Dr. Gakuo and Dr. Gikonyo
have established the first commercial feedlot farm in Kenya, where livestock are fed and fattened up in a
a process known as finishing before they are sold off to the highest bidder.
The two set up an intensive system of beef production that focuses on feeding cattle for 90 days on concentrate
feeds till they reach the desired market weight.
The feedlot system is a universally used practice in beef production but had never been introduced into the
country for commercial purposes until the two doctors took it up.
We offer a unique opportunity to save beef farmers from huge losses. The toughest part for most farmers is to says Gakuo. Their farm is
ensure the animals reach the desired market weight and fetch good prices.
located in Milimani village, Kieni Constituency.
Most beef farmers in Kenya are pastoralists based in arid and semiarid areas prone to harsh climatic conditions.
This leaves farmers vulnerable to losing their prized livestock and end up selling high value animals at
We ask farmers to sell to us their cows when they are a year old instead of staying with animals that put Gakuo says.
pressure on the pastures and then during the dry season it is too late to save them.
Gakuo travels to various livestock markets where he buys cattle for between Sh. 18,000 to Sh. 30,000 depending
on the breed. Most of these are normally emaciated or underweight.
The animals are then transported to his farm in Kieni where they are vaccinated and isolated for two weeks
before they are introduced to the paddock where the rest of the animals are kept.
We make sure the animals are not carrying any harmful diseases so that they do not infect the rest of theGakuo says.
herd. They are then tagged and weighed before the feeding program starts.
Gakuo and Gikonyo have two paddocks, each occupying an acre and with a capacity of 400 cattle.
Unlike ordinary farmers who combine grazing on pastures and animal feeds, the feedlots are zero grazing units Gakuo says.
that focus on animal feeds with the intention of fattening the animal.
Gakuo says while the product of dairy cows is milk and beef, for beef cattle the product is the calf.
Each year, a healthy beef cow should calf, which means if you have five cows, you should have 10 animals by the
end of the year. The number will keep increasing each year.
However, increasing your herd potential will only happen if you make room for these animals by avoiding
straining the resources at your disposal.
Gakuo has come up with his own formula to ensure maximum results within 90 days. He has also set up a feeds
the factory which produces and sells its own brand of animal feeds.
We came up with a formula for animal feeds that contain high energy, optimum protein, vitamins, and minerals
by combining grains, cottonseed oil cakes, and commercially manufactured supplements.
Making our own feeds and establishing the factory, allows the business to save on money and adds revenue to he says.
After three months of intensive feeding, Gakuo sells an animal between Sh. 60,000 and Sh. 90,000 depending on
The market for high-quality beef products is lucrative because there is a high demand for meat, locally and he says.
internationally. We never have a problem selling our animals.
Since May last year, Gakuo has bought and sold close to 2,400 animals.
We restock every month and we sell the animals at the same rate, so it is a source of steady income. We plan he says.
to expand the farm from two acres to six acres of land with six paddocks.
Gakuo insists that the beef industry offers an opportunity to create jobs and ensure food security for all
Kenyans, especially in arid areas.
Currently, we are forced to import cottonseed oil cakes from neighboring he says.
East African countries since they are a crucial ingredient for our animal feeds. The cotton industry should
be revived to save us from this extra cost.
He says ranchers and pastoralists who have large tracts of land but fail to make the most from their animals can
benefit from their venture.
Quality of Meat
High-quality breeds are the next important step in improving the quality of meat. Farmers need to be Gakuo
facilitated to access the best animal breeds and artificial insemination methods in the region.
The veterinarian says the feedlot industry could offer beef farmers, even those in harsh climatic areas to
improve the quality of their animals and ensure they earn more money in the market.
This article was first published, courtesy of Profitable Business Ideas WhatsApp Group