Livestock drive north Kenya's economy, and form a central part of cultural values and traditions. They dictate the way and pace of life, and for many households, offer the sole source of income.
The northern rangelands are under increasing pressure to support growing livestock numbers, and conservancies are trying to find ways to manage natural resources for the benefit of both cattle and wildlife. LivestockWORKS aims to create that link, by providing a market for pastoralists from high-performing conservancies.
The livestock team from NRT Trading will hold markets in conservancies with good governance and rangeland management, buying directly from pastoralists, who contribute a percentage of their sale price to their conservancies as an administration fee. After purchase, each animal is microchipped then quarantined on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and other private ranches in Laikipia. They are then slaughtered on Ol Pejeta Conservancy and sold to markets in Nairobi.
Although severe drought halted all LivestockWORKS purchases from conservancies in 2017, there were several other successes. For the first time, all NRT Trading cattle have been fitted with a microchip, which enables staff to easily record weight gain and veterinary treatments for each animal, and has led to the launch of a weight-based purchasing and sales model.
While year-on-year cattle sales to commercial markets have increased since 2014, getting cattle to commercial market weights is a significant challenge due to poor grass availability. LivestockWORKS is addressing these issues by:
- Exploring ways to educate communities on improved husbandry in partnership with the NRT Grazing Department
- Developing a grass production and feed banking partnership with privately owned partner ranches and conservancies in Laikipia County
- Planning to establish a cattle finishing site near Lewa Wildlife Consrvancy
- Developing cost effective cattle fattening feed rations for cattle supplementation
- Conducting supplementary feeding trials to explore ways to sustain sales. Trials already completed have shown that cattle from NRT conservancies could access high end markets with this approach.