Livestock Management Strategies Practised By Small Holder Mixed Farmers In The Marginal Areas Of Machakos District To Mitigate Drought

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Animal Production Society of Kenya
The high animal losses (up to 50%) associated with droughts have caused households situated in these low potential areas to adapt coping strategies that are aimed at reducing their effects. A sociological study was carried out to determine these livestock management strategies including other factors affecting the condition of the land in Machakos District. Three hundred and eight randomly selected households from five sub-divided co-operative ranches were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. The data obtained was analysed using a statistical package for social sciences (SPSS). The data revealed that households practised different strategies to cope with the effects of drought. The strategies were subdivided into two categories; those that were directly involved in the management of livestock and those that were indirectly related to livestock management. The direct strategies included having more than one feed source, mixing of different animal species in the same herd, rearing of indigenous breeds of animals, rearing more goats and poultry in the herd, maintaining mature productive animals in the herd by selling when conditions are favourable and purchasing when they are unfavourable, diversifying the farming system with complementary enterprises, using income from other remittances to purchase animals and feed. Most of the strategies are farmer-initiated and very few are from the technical experts due to poor extension services in the area and the low level of agricultural training of the farmers. There is therefore need for use of indigenous knowledge in research to provide practical solutions to animal production problems in the are