By Prudence Minayo
Willy Kirwa is a dairy farmer based in Uasin Gishu county. Before venturing into dairy farming, he had tried his hands in maize and wheat farming for more than a decade. When he decided to get into dairy farming, he conducted research and visited countries, like, Israel and USA to learn more.
During a recent interview with Citizen TV, he revealed that despite dropping out of school in Form two, he has been able to completely transform his life. The award winning farmer has been recognized by many for his efforts. He offers training to those wishing to get into the business at his Willens Practical Training Centre.
Here is his story as told by WoK.
His education was not long-lived as he dropped out of school when he was in Form Two to concentrate on farming.
“I dropped out of school prematurely. I decided to take up farming when I was in Form Two and I credit my success to God,” he told Citizen Daily.
Willy is the largest milk supplier in Eldoret. His herd of high yielding dairy cows are grouped into high yielders, medium and drying. He does this in order to determine the kind of nutrients to give to each animal.
The farmer has been continually improving his cow breeds, something he says takes time. It has taken him twenty years to have the current breeds, some of which produce between 38 to 42 litres of milk everyday.
The inspiration to breed was born after he visited Israel. He noticed that despite the country being a desert, they had a lot of milk.
To get a heifer, he uses sexed semen, which is guaranteed to produce. This semen is more than five times the price of normal semen.
According to the farmer, many farmers make the mistake of servicing cows with the same bull over and over. This delays the process of getting a pure breed since the same genes and diseases are passed from generation to generation.
“When I want to improve the breed of a heifer, which produces 10 litres daily, I look for the bull whose mother produces twenty litres,” he said.
He serves the heifers when they are at least 350 kilograms and between 15 to 18 months. By 2022, he was producing about 450 litres a day, selling to school, hotels ,and milk processors.
The farmer also sells pedigree heifers to farmers around Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, with each going for about Sh200,000.
To deal with East Coast Fever, he constructed a spray race worth Sh300,000. This has helped him cut costs from Sh50,000 to Sh12,000 a month. He also grows protein rich grass, mainly boma rhodes and lucerne,which cut the costs of feeds. For better quality grass, he top dresses the field covered by Kikuyu grass with CAN. He uses 100 kilograms of CAN annually. Growing some of his feeds helps him save about Sh1500 per 70kg.
The Willen farm proprietor feeds the animals according to their milk production. Those that produce less milk receive less feeds compared to their counterparts.