PhD project by Sally Migose. Smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya produce about 60% of the national milk production. To meet increasing demands, they are facing several challenges constraining intensification of their production. This project aims to identify current breeding practices, and to assess the impact of current and alternative practices.
Sustainable intensification of livestock production is widely advocated to meet the increasing demand for animal-source food. In Kenya, smallholder dairy farms produce about 60% of the national milk production, and provide livelihood to the majority of rural households. Smallholder dairy farmers are, however, facing several challenges constraining intensification of their production to meet increasing demands to animal-source foods. For instance, smallholder farmers are currently underutilising innovative breeding practises, such as artificial insemination (AI) with semen from genetically superior animals and herd replacement with high-quality in-calf heifers. Instead, farmers have resorted to natural mating with unproven bulls and herd replacement with culled cows purchased from large scale dairy farms and fellow smallholder farms. These are breeding practices in diverse smallholder farming systems but their associated technical, economic, genetic and environmental impacts have not been quantified and therefore their potential remain unknown. The objectives of the present study are to:
- characterize diversity of smallholder farming systems and to identify roles of dairy production within these systems;
- analyse biophysical, economic and institutional constraints to increasing milk production in smallholder farming systems;
- assess the impact of breeding practises on technical farm performance, economic efficiency and genetic progress in smallholder dairy farming systems;
- assess the environmental consequences of breeding practices in smallholder dairy farming systems; and
- assess farmers’ perception of alternative breeding practices for different smallholder dairy farming systems.
Data will be collected using both qualitative and quantitative approaches from smallholder households in three sites, differing with in access to dairy input and output markets. Empirical analysis and modelling will be used to explore potential of increasing milk yield through breeding for different farming system. Information gathered and options for strategic use of AI and replacement heifers will be discussed with stakeholders, policy makers and the research community for contribution to sustainable intensification of smallholder dairy production in Kenya