In Summary
  • Located in Kitale, the company’s farm specialises in raising quality steers, which they sell to abattoirs and farmers, who buy young animals to rear for meat.
  • Feeding the male calf when few days or weeks old should not be a problem. Offer it porridge made from maize flour instead of milk alone.
  • Make the porridge as light as possible and add a little milk to it. This is very healthy for the calf and is cheap as compared to buying milk
  • In 2015, the company’s two-year-old bull was bought by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Sh1.1 million.

Dressed in white overcoats and black gumboots, the two herders led the bull into a shed at the Nairobi showground.

They could not hide their joy as the red and white steer of the Boran breed settled in the shed.

Minutes earlier, the animal had been crowned a champion bull.

“We are happy,” exclaimed David Khatete, a livestock officer at Kenya Seed Company. “Our bulls have won this title for 10 consecutive years, and we hope to win again next year.”

Located in Kitale, the company’s farm specialises in raising quality steers, which they sell to abattoirs and farmers, who buy young animals to rear for meat.

Ordinarily, most dairy farms do not keep male calves for longer periods because they compete with heifers for care and management.

The animals are normally disposed, sometimes at a throw away price.

Besides the competition with heifers, another reason farmers dispose male calves is that they fear they can turn wild or aggressive years later, therefore, becoming a threat. But this trait can be addressed through castration.

So what is the secret to raising an award-winning steer?

“Feeding the male calf when few days or weeks old should not be a problem. Offer it porridge made from maize flour instead of milk alone. Make the porridge as light as possible and add a little milk to it. This is very healthy for the calf and is cheap as compared to buying milk,” Khatete explained, adding the animal should be dewormed as soon as it begins to feed on grass.

Once it hits three weeks, they normally castrate the calf using an elastic band.

“The elastic band works by obstructing blood flow to the testicles and the scrotum. The testicles eventually fall from the body after a few weeks. The band is less painful and stress-free as compared to using the burdizzo,” Khatete said, adding that castration is done to fatten the calf and make them docile.

FEEDING

The animal becomes a steer once castrated. Later, the steer is dehorned when it is four months old.

According to him, feeding steers is considerably cheaper as most of the time they graze in the field from 9am to 5pm.

“We have 700 animals. After grazing, we feed them on maize cobs and some hay to supplement. The maize cobs are crushed to enable the animals gain up to 2kg a day. The crushed cobs are mixed with roughages such as milled hay to prevent the animals from suffering from diarrhoea when they feed on maize cobs or maize bran. The cobs have necessary nutrients which fatten the animals,” he said, adding they have constructed feeding troughs on the grazing fields where water is pumped to the animals for drinking.

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