In 2013, Dennis Maina sold his seven-year-old hardware store located in Dagoretti Corner, Nairobi County, for Sh600,000 to get into dairy farming, a venture that is now earning him five times more.
From the Sh1,500 a day he used to earn from his hardware business, Mr Maina is currently taking home about Sh7,500 a day from milk sales.
“My dairy cows produce 125 litres daily. I milk them three times a day. I sell the milk to my neighbours at Sh60 a litre,” says Mr Maina, 38.
The entrepreneur opted to sell his hardware business due to a small profit margin. He was also losing customers to other bigger hardware stores that could afford to sell their products at a cheaper price.
He used the money from the sale of the hardware store to construct a 16 by 24 feet cow shed at Sh100,000 on his mother’s eighth of an acre land in Nairobi’s Kawangware and bought two dairy cows at Sh100,000 each from a Githunguri-based farmer.
His initial plan was to sell his produce through a dispensing machine commonly known as milk ATM, which works like an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in banks. However, he realised that milk demand was high from direct consumers, who were also buying at Sh60 per litre, which is higher than the Sh45 he would have earned if he sold through the vending machine.
Mr Maina learnt skills on how to manage his dairy farm from an established farmer in Githunguri. And to ensure good production, he regularly consults a professional veterinarian to maintain this cows’ health.
“To increase my production, my veterinary officer advised me to improve the breeds to top pedigrees by using imported semen in artificial insemination,” he says.
“I import semen from Brazil at Sh9,000 per tube to service my cows since I learnt through workshops I have attended that they have the best breeds,” says the farmer who studied up to Form Four.
He says his major challenge is obtaining feeds.
“Being an urban farmer I cannot easily access fodder for my cows, so I have employed a worker who collects corn husks from Kawangware market maize sellers and other feeds. I mix them with the dairy meal and Lucerne to bring out the required nutrition value for the cows,” notes Mr Maina.
“I often hire a truck at Sh5,000 to Sh10,000 to purchase bale from Naivasha.”
A bale of hay goes for Sh200 and he normally buys up to 100 bales in a single trip.
From his initial two cows, he now has a herd of 11 which comprises eight Friesian cows out of which he milks five while three are about to calf. He also has two young bulls and a calf.
In future, he plans to purchase a spacious land in Ndeiya near Kikuyu town to relocate his cows but he will still supply milk to his loyal Kawangware customers using his van purchased from the milk proceeds.
He encourages young people to venture into dairy farming since demand for milk is high, rather than just focusing on white collar jobs.
“The income is quite good and the work on dairy is less tiresome compared to many other ventures,” he notes.
First appeared here