All those animals reared on the farm to directly benefit man. Includes; cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, rabbits, camel, fish, camel and bees.


  1. a) Source of food.

Some animal’s products are utilised as food. These include; meat, milk, eggs, honey and blood. b) Source of income.

The various products are utilised at home and the surplus sold. The animals themselves can also be sold to earn income.

  1. Cultural uses.


  • Status symbol.

One is regarded to be wealthy on owning large herds of cattle, sheep or goats. Thus one becomes highly placed in the society.

  • Medium of exchange.

In olden days barter trade was the only of form of trade. Animals were thus used as medium of exchange.

  • Social ceremonies.

Some traditional ceremonies like marriage and funerals require the offering of live or slaughtered offering.

  • Recreational purpose.

These include activities like cock fighting, bull fighting, ostrich, camel, donkey and horse races.

  1. Animal power.

Camels, donkeys and oxen are used to provide draught power which is needed in pulling of carts and ploughs.

  1. Provision of raw materials.
  • Animals are sources or raw materials for textile industry, theses raw materials include; wool, fur, mohair, hides and skins.
  • The waste products such as dung are used in maintaining soil fertility.
  • Cattle dung is used in synthesis of biogas.



A group of animals having the same characteristics and a common origin.

Cattle breeds.

Terms used to describe animals of different age and sex.

  • Mature male cattle.
  • Mature castrated male cattle.
  • Young castrated male cattle.
  • Mature female cattle.
  • Young female cattle between weaning and first calving.
  • Young one of cattle.

There are two categories of cattle breeds based on place of origin.

  • Indigenous cattle.
  • Exotic cattle breeds.

Indigenous cattle.

  • Native or local cattle that have their origin within the tropics.
  • Belong to a class called Bos   
  • They are not classified as breeds because of their variation in characteristics due to a lot of uncontrolled breeding over the years.
  • Includes; the small East African Zebu which comprises of Maasai, Nandi, Ankole, Bukendi and Karamajong. Mainly kept for meat with little milk production.


General characteristics of indigenous cattle.

  1. They have humps which stores fat, which is broken down to energy and water in times of starvation. ii. They are fairly tolerant to high temperatures due to the presence of dewlap and thick hides.
  • They have high tolerance to tropical diseases such as trypanosomiasis.
  1. They have slow growth rate leading to late maturity. Heifers are served at the age of 2-3 years.
  2. They have low production of both meat and milk due to inheritance of poor characteristics.
  3. They can walk for long distances in search of food and water.
  • They can stay for long periods without food and water without seriously affecting their performance and body condition.
  • They have a long calving interval of more than one year.

Exotic cattle breeds.

Originated from temperate regions of Europe.

They belong to a class of cattle called Bos taurus. 

General characteristics of exotic cattle breeds.

  1. They have no humps.
  2. They have low tolerance to high temperatures and this makes them popular in cool climate of the Kenya highlands.
  • They are highly susceptible to tropical diseases. iv. They have a fast growth rate leading to early maturity. Heifers are served at 1 ½ -2 years.
  1. They are good producers of both meat and milk.
  2. They have short calving intervals of one calf per year if well managed. vii. They cannot walk for long distances.

They are further divided into groups namely:

  • Dairy cattle breeds.
  • Beef cattle breeds.
  • Dual purpose breeds.

1) Dairy cattle breeds.

General characteristics.

  1. Their bodies are wedge to triangular shaped. This is due to heavy hindquarters with a tapering shape towards the head.
  2. They have a straight top line. iii. They have a well set apart hindquarters to allow room for the big udder. iv.    They have large and well-spaced udders with large teats that are well spaced.
  3. They have prominent milk veins.
  4. Their lean bodies carry little flesh. This is easily noted if the pin bone is visible.
  • They have a large stomach capacity that enables the animal to feed heavily for high milk production.
  • They are docile with mild temperament.


  1. Friesian.

Origin.                         Holland. It is also known as Holstein.

with a few white marks. However, the tail switch, the leg parts below the
knees and a patch on the forehead are always white.
Size. Largest dairy breed. Cows weigh 550-680kgs and bulls 900-1000kg.      Calves have a birth weight of 35-40kg.
Milk production. Highest producing milk breed with an average of 9,150 kg per lactation of 305 days. Milk has low butter fat content of 3.5%.




Heifers reach service age at 21 months. Friesians are good feeders and requires large quantity of fodder.
Origin. Scotland.
Colour. It is either dark brown or red with white marking or white with dark brown or red markings.
 Size. Bulls weigh 500-720 kg while cows weigh 360-590Kgs. Calves weigh 3035kgs at birth.
Milk production. Under good management, milk yield may reach 5,185Kgs per lactation period of 305 days. Butter fat content is 4%. Heifers are served at 21 months of age. They are hardy and are able to feed even in poor pastures.

Colour.                        Black and white. It may appear white with a few black marks or black


Origin. Guernsey Island off the coast of France in the English Channel. It is thus known as channel island breed.
Colour. Brown with white colour in the face, leg parts below the knees and hocks, tail switch and flanks. Colour ranges from fawn to almost brown.
Size.   Cows 450-500Kgs and bulls 540-770Kgs. Calves weigh 25-30Kgs at birth.
Milk production.





Produces an average of 6100Kgs per lactation period of 305 days. Milk has 4.5-5% butter fat content. Has moderate pasture requirements.
Origin. Jersey Island in the English Channel. It is known as Channel Island breed.

Colour.                       Varies from light yellowish brown (fawn) to a shade of black. Has protruding black eyes. The tail switch and muzzle are black.  Has a small wedge shape with a dished face hence has true dairy conformation.

Size.  The smallest dairy breeds. Cows weigh 350-450Kgs and bulls 540-700Kgs. Calves are born small, weigh about 20-25Kgs.

Milk production.  Produce the lowest amount of milk but has a butterfat content of about 55.3%. Under good management, they produce 4,270Kgs of milk per lactation of 305 days. Has little pasture requirements and it is an excellent grazer in poor pastures.

2) Beef cattle breeds.

General characteristics.

  1. They are blocky in shape that is appear rectangular with compact bodies.
  2. They have deep well fleshed bodies. iii. They grow fast leading to early maturity. iv. They are efficient converts of food into meat and fat.
  3. They are able to maintain good weight even during adverse conditions such as drought.
  4. They are more tolerant to high temperatures. vii. They breed regularly. viii.    They are good forages that is there is reduced selective grazing. ix.           They are more resistant to diseases.
  5. They have short strong legs to support their heavy bodies.

Aberdeen Angus.

Origin.                                         North East Scotland in the country of Aberdeen.

Colour.                                          Black with long smooth coat of hair.

Size and conformation.            Large breed appearing cylindrical, compact, lowly set, broad and      deep, smooth and well-muscled throughout the body. It matures early. Carcases is of high quality with high dressing percentage. Cows weigh 720Kgs and bulls 900Kgs. Cows have good mothering ability. It is polled. 

  1. Galloway

Origin.                                  Scotland.

Colour.                                   Black in colour and often has a brown tinge on the coat.

Size and conformation.        Similar to that of Aberdeen Angus but with a rather longer body and hindquarters not well developed. The woollen appearance together with a thick hide enables the animal to withstand cold conditions.


Origin.                                      England in the country of Hereford.

Colour.               Deep red body with the face and leg parts below knees and hocks   always white. The white colour can also be found on the tail switch, flanks, underline and brisket.

Size and conformation.         Rectangular in form with deep and thick flesh. Has large hindquarters. Cows weigh about 840Kgs and bulls 1000Kgs. 


  1. Beef shorthorns.
Origin. England.
Colour. Red, roan or white. It is slow in growth and late maturing. It can produce a good amount of milk.

Size and conformation.        Cows weigh 545-630Kgs and bulls 700-900Kgs.

3) Dual purpose cattle breeds.

  • Breeds of cattle that are good in production of both meat and milk.
  • However these breeds do not excel in production of either product.
  1. Sahiwall

Origin.                                               Pakistan.

Colour.                                               Brownish-red.

Size and conformation.   They are heavily built and short -legged. Has high temperature tolerance. Udders are large. Milk production 2700-3000Kgs per lactation with 3.7% butterfat. Have large dewlaps and fluffy umbilical fold. They do not let down their milk easily. They are used to cross breed local cattle for milk production.


  1. Red Poll.

Origin.                                      England.

Colour.                                      Deep red in colour with a white nose.

Size and conformation.        Medium-sized breed with cows weighing 450Kgs. It is polled and the back is broad and straight. Has deep ribs and medium to short legs.

Origin. Switzerland.
Colour. Has a light red white and a white head.

Size and conformation.  It is a very large and heavy breed that has a fast growth rate and average milk production. It can produce 3600Kgs of milk per lactation with butter fat content of 4% under good conditions of supplementary feeding with high quality fodder.


Terms used to describe pigs of different age and sex.

  • A young pig from birth to weaning.
  • Young female pig from weaning up to first parturition.
  • a mature female pig after first parturition. S Boar. A mature male pig. 
  1. Large white.
  • Originated from Britain. It is long, large and white pig.
  • The skin may have a few blue spots. Snout is broad and slightly dished. Ears are upright.
  • Most prolific pig breed. Sows have good amount of milk for the piglet. Slow maturing but a good
  • Converter of feed into meat. Mature sow weigh 300Kgs and boars 350Kgs. Kept for pork
  1. Landrace

Originated from Denmark. White in colour. It has a straight snout and long ears drooping over the

Face. It is a long lean pig. The hams are deep and broad. It has weak legs but is prolific with good  Mothering ability. It is kept for bacon production.


  1. Saddlebacks

They have a black body with a white stripe over the shoulders. Both breeds have long heads and

Snouts that are slightly dished. The ears are slightly drooped. Kept for pork production.

Can utilise soft young grass. Have good mothering ability and are quiet.

  1. Essex saddleback.

Has a black body with shoulders and all four legs white. ii.   Wessex saddlebacks.

Has a black body with the shoulders and only the front legs white.

  1. Berkshire

Black with white colour on the feet, nose and tail. Kept for bacon production.


  1. Middle white.

Originated from Britain. It is white. Similar to large white except for the small size. Ears are erect  and the snout slightly dished. Prolific and has a good mothering ability. It is early maturing.

Kept for bacon production.

  1. Duroc jersey pig.

Developed in Britain. It is pure black. It has a long body with dropping ears. It is a hardy breed.

Kept for both pork and bacon production.


Poultry refers to domestic birds kept for meat or egg production. They include; chicken, ducks, pigeons, geese, ostriches and turkey.

Commercial chicken are kept for either meat (table birds.) or broilers or eggs (layers). Table birds are usually heavy and fast growing while layers are light bodied and produce large eggs of 50-60 grams each.

Terms used to describe poultry of different age and sex.

  • Newly hatched bird from one day to eight weeks old.
  • Young female bird from eight weeks to point of lay.
  • Young male bird from eight weeks up to maturity.
  • Mature female bird.
  • Mature male bird.
  • Bird kept for egg production.
  • Broiler/table bird. Bird kept for meat production.
  • Bird which has been rendered sterile.

A crossbred which has acquired the characteristics of the parent breeds is said to have hybrid vigour or heterosis. The birds do not go broody.

They various pure breeds are divided into either heavy or light breeds.

Heavy breeds.

  • Rhode Island.
  • Light Sussex.
  • New Hampshire.
  • Red and black Australops.

Light breeds.

  • Leghorns
  • Ancorna
  • minorca
  • Sykes.

Light Sussex.

British bred whose plumage is white in colour. The neck hackles, ends of wings and the tail have a few black feathers. Can be used as a dual purpose breed but lays smaller eggs than most good layers. Cocks weigh 4Kg and hens 3Kgs.

New Hampshire.

Originated from America. Has light red plumage. Matures very fast thus ideal as a table bird. Cocks weigh 4.5Kgs and hens 3.5Kgs.

Black Australops.

Originated from Australia and brought to Kenya by European settlers from South Africa. Has black plumage with a greenish sheen that looks beautiful in the sun. Hens lay fewer eggs as they often go broody and fatten quickly. Cocks weigh 4Kgs and hens 3Kgs.



Terms used to describe sheep of different age and sex.

Ram. Mature male sheep.

Ewe. Mature female sheep.

Lamb. A young one of any sex.

Sheep breeds are kept for either meat or wool production or both.

Wool Breeds.

The only sheep breed that has high quality wool is the Merino. Its wool is used to standardise wool from other breeds.

It originated from Spain. Popular for upgrading the local Red Maasai.

Characteristics of merino sheep.

  • They have a small body and angular in form.
  • They have a drooping rump.
  • They are narrow in the chest and consequently have a close-together front.
  • Their muzzle is flesh coloured.
  • They are slow maturing and have a lambing percentage of 100.
  • They are hardy breeds that does well under extensive conditions.
  • They have a good flocking instinct which makes them to be put as a big flock under one shepherd.
  • They produce fleece that is highly valued, long stapled (with a staple length of 8-10 cm) and is low in shrinkage.
  • Under shorn conditions, the ram weighs 63-80Kgs and the Ewes 49-57Kgs. Carcass is of very low quality.

Meat Breeds.

They produce high quality mutton. They are covered with either low quality wool or hair.

  1. Dorper

Produces high quality carcass. Developed through crossing Dorset Horn and Black Head Persian. Thus it is regarded as an indigenous breed. White in colour with a black head. Suitable for hot and dry conditions. It is highly prolific with a god growth rate.

  1. Blackhead Persian.

Has hair covering its body. Indigenous sheep that originated in Arabia. It is tolerant to harsh conditions.

Has a black head and other parts are white. It is long legged, has a fat tail and is polled.

  1. Red Maasai sheep.

Indigenous breed which has ability to utilise poor pastures. Colour varies from white to red with hair covering the body.

Dual purpose breeds.

Breeds that are good in production of both mutton and wool.

  1. Romney marsh.

Suited to high altitude areas that have permanently wet pastures. It is resistant to foot rot and worm infestation.


  • Wide head and poll that is well covered with wool.
  • Wide chest with a straight back and short legs.
  • Produces wool of medium length that weighs 3.6-4.1Kgs.
  • Rams weigh 102-113Kgs. S Black hooves.


  1. Corriedale

Has relatively high quality wool and meat. It is polled and well covered with coarse wool. Has moderately long legs well covered with wool to the hooves. Produces wool of good length and low shrinkage. Fleece weighs 5-5,5Kgs. Rams weigh 84.2-90.6Kgs. It is a crossbreed of Merino and Lincoln thus an exotic breed.

  1. Hampshire Down.

It is hardy, large breed which thrives on poor pastures. It is prolific and early maturing.

General characteristics.

  • Face and ears are dark brown or nearly black. It is well covered over the poll and forehead with wool.
  • The rams weigh 125Kgs and Ewe 102Kgs.
  • Fleece weight averages 3.6Kgs but is often downgraded because of black fibres. Wool is coarse and is about 7.5 cm long.
  • Lambing percentage is 125-140. 



Reasons why goat are more popular in Kenya.

  • They have low feed requirements compared to cattle and sheep.
  • They are highly prolific. Some have twining ability. This coupled with their short kidding interval means that they take a short period to multiply stock.
  • They are browsers which feed on twigs and shrubs hence can thrive in arid areas without being in competition with grazers such as cattle.
  • They are well adapted areas with high temperatures making them ideal in dry areas.

Terms used to describe Goats of different age and sex.

Billy or Buck. Mature male goat.

Nanny or Doe. Mature female goat.

Kid. Young one of goat of any sex.

Dairy Goats.

They are further subdivided into temperate or exotic and tropical or indigenous dairy goats.

Temperate/exotic dairy goats.


Large white coloured goat. Originated from Switzerland. Has upright ears that point forward. Average milk yields is 3-3.5Kgs per day with a butterfat percentage of 3.5-4%


Originated from Switzerland. Brown in colour with two white stripes running from the eyes to the nose. It has ability to forage on local grass and shrubs. Milk yields average 2.5-3Kgs per day with 3.3% butterfat content.

British Alpine. 

Originated from Britain.

Tropical/indigenous dairy Goats.


Roan and white in colour. It has long legs, and flopping ears and is polled. Adult female weighs 60-70Kgs and produces 1-2 litres of milk per day.


Crossbreed between Indian Jamnapari and Egyptian Nubian. Originated from India.   Colour ranges from fawn, white to black. Has large eyes that flop.it is horned. Produces 1-1.5 litres of milk per day. Adult female weighs 45-60kgs.


Meat goats.


Has abilit7 to adapt to hot conditions. Has a white coloured body and has very good quality meat.


Angora goat is reared for its hair called Mohair. Originated from Angora in Asia. Not very popular due to its vulnerability to internal parasites. It is white in colour.


Terms used in rabbits of different age and sex.

Kindling. Young one of a rabbit.

Doe. Mature female rabbit.

Buck. Mature male rabbit.

New Zealand White/Kenya White.

It is white and has red eyes. Most common breed and is kept for meat production. Weighs 45.5Kgs at maturity.

California White.

It is very prolific. White in colour with one or more of the following parts being black; ears, nose, paws and tail.

Flemish giant.

It is a grey or blue-black breed that has good meat.


Kept for meat. It also gives high quality fur.


It has drooping ears. It is white in colour.


Adaptations of camel to arid and semi-arid areas.

 Camels are kept for the following reasons.


Produces about 9.0 litres per day in a lactation period of 300days with a butterfat content of 34%.


It is more fibrous than beef or mutton.

Animal power.

They are beast of burden. They can carry loads of up to 300Kgs which are placed on the hump.

Species of Camels.

Camels are classified into two species depending on the number of humps.


Has one hump. It originated from Arabia and Syria.


Has two humps and is much smaller than Dromedary. Originated from Central America. Has more fur coverage on the body thus it is shorn and yields 5-12Kgs of fur per shearing season. Mainly found in temperate regions.


Kept for the provision of animal power through direct carrying of loads, pulling of carts and ploughs




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