“I am a distinguished dairy farmer, courtesy of rejection by voters.” Those are the words of former North Imenti MP Silas Muriuki. When the MT. KENYA STAR team visited Muriuki at his farm in Runogone village, Imenti North Sub County, he said he does not regret losing the elections because he is handsomely earning from his 32 Friesian breed cows and still helping his constituents who seek farming tips from him.
“After l lost the election, l saw the kind of employment that could make me busy and earn a living was farming. I thought l should have a model farm to teach people who are able to go about dairy farming and l am now grateful for achieving that,” said Muriuki.
However, he says he has not retired from active politics.
His dairy unit is one of its kind; he has cooling machines for milk storage while milking is usually done by milking machines. This ease the milk production, he says.
The politician currently is producing 300 litres of milk per day from his 16 lactating cows.
“Mine is a modern dairy unit, where l have installed a cooling system and milking machines. Currently, l have about sixteen lactating animals, but in a months’ time the number will have increased since some heifers which have already been served will have calved,” Muriuki, says.
“With a milking machine, it takes each animal a maximum of six minutes to be milked. Milking here is done three times a day that is at 6 am, 12 pm and 7 pm” Muriuki adds.
He sells a litre of milk at Sh35. This implies that a month the former legislator fetches approximately Sh315, 000 from his dairy farm.
The initial cost for Muriuki investment was Sh10million, the money he used to construct the dairy unit which has a capacity to house 60cows.
He started the project in 2014 and completed it in 2015, by then he had six cows. His dairy unit sits in a quarter an acre.
At his farm he has employed three workers at the farm; their main work is to clean the unit, milking and to feed the animals.
On feeding, Muriuki feeds his cows on silage, Rhodes grass and hay.
“l have Napier grass in my two acres, around the farm but l also, buy Rhodes grass and hay to supplement the silage,” he adds.
He says that the economic use of silage for feeding, make it economic for one to reap the maximum profit.
Currently, Muriuki is developing a biogas system.
He reckons that in dairy farming, there is a continued generation of money within the farm. “There is no single day that one can go without having money. Farmers are able to grab-back what they put in the venture, as you can see l have heifers that l can even sell. There are milk and calves, which can be sold when there is a need,” Muriuki notes.
The main challenge that this politician cum farmer faces is the low cost of milk.
“If dairy co-operatives could increase the milk price, they could see a lot of farmers improving their dairy stock and also improving their economic status” he adds.
Muriuki also encourages young people to grab a chance when they are issued with a piece of land by their parents despite how small it is to get into farming.
He adds, that he serves the heifers with the AI when they are 200kgs or when they are 14 months old.
For the lactating animals, he also feeds them with a dairy meal to increase milk production.
“You cannot just give the lactating animals the bran only. Bran needs to be added with mineral salts and maize germ. I prepare my own feeds in advance and l have enough molasses,” Muriuki says.
Muriuki is also the patron of Mt Kenya east slopes dairy farmers (MESLOPES) which comprises of 30 potential farmers.