Sheep Farming In Kenya: Everything You Need To Know

Looking to start sheep farming in Kenya?

The sheep farming industry is a lucrative business in Kenya.

It has become an important source of income, and the industry is growing exponentially.

If you are interested in raising sheep, then select the right breed for the environment.

Different breeds have different needs, so it is important to research the breed before investing in it.

In this article, I’ll share with you the secrets of successful sheep farming in Kenya. You will learn about the different breeds of sheep.

I will also show you why this industry is rapidly growing, and everything you need to know to get started to earn income from it.

How To Start Sheep Farming In Kenya: Steps Involved

Any successful business involves careful planning. This principle applies to the sheep farming industry in Kenya.

But before you start, find out if there are any sheep farming laws in your area.

What are some of the steps involved in raising sheep in Kenya? 

If you considering starting raising sheep, here are some of the actionable tips to help you start a successful sheep farming business in Kenya.

1. Research the sheep industry

If you want to want to start raising sheep for profit, then you need to research the market to establish whether or not the sheep are in demand.

There are several breeds of sheep in Kenya. There are some breeds that are more profitable than others.

So during your research, find out which sheep breeds are in high demand and profitable.

Another important aspect you need to research is competition. If there are others in the industry, find out how easy it is to penetrate the market.

You will need to find out about the availability and the cost of veterinary care in your local area.

There are other important aspects you need to research such as the cost of sheep feed. If this is something you will always need to use.

2. Select a location in Kenya for your sheep farming business 

The success of your sheep farming business partly lies in the location of the farm. So you should be picky.

What factors should you consider when choosing a location for a farm? There are a number of factors.

Look for an area that has a lot of grazing grass and water. Set up your farm in an area that is free of predators such as wolves.

Look for an area in Kenya that has a climate that is ideal for sheep farming. Consider also the local regulations if there are any.

3. Purchase the right sheep breeds

Once you have done your research to find out the best sheep breeds for your sheep farming business, it’s time to purchase the sheep now.

Here are the tips to help you buy the best sheep for your farming business in Kenya.

Apart from buying the best breed, take into account: 

  • age of the sheep.
  • size of the sheep.

It is important to buy younger sheep because they are easier to train. 

I don’t recommend buying older sheep from markets. You may not know the reasons why they are being sold. 

The farmers may decide to sell the sheep because they are barren or have been sick chronically ill.

If they are sick, you will introduce the diseases to your healthy sheep. But if they are barren, you will run the business at a loss.

The size of the sheep also matters. 

High-breed sheep are more profitable than smaller ones. So it’s important to consider the size also.

Read also: Garlic farming in Kenya

4. Put up a fence around your sheep farm

You will need to build a fence around your sheep farm. The fence serves several purposes.

It protects the sheep against predators such as wolves. It also prevents the sheep from going far away from the farm.

But when building fencing for a sheep farm, you will need to consider several factors. 

Let me highlight some considerations. Decide the materials you will use to build the fencing.

I personally don’t recommend barbed wire. A barbed wire usually bruises the sheep. Wood or any other option may be better.

You will have to make sure that the fence is spacious. Sheep need a spacious room for roaming.

5. Build a shelter for your sheep

Apart from building a fence around your sheep, your sheep will need a roof over them.

Decide on the type of shelter you will provide for your sheep. You can build a barn or just a shed.

Then decide on the size. What will determine the size of the shelter is the number of your flock.

The rule of thumb is that the shelter should be big enough to accommodate all your sheep.

You will need to make sure that the shelter is well-ventilated to allow the free circulation of air. 

A well-ventilated shelter promotes good healthy by discouraging the spread of diseases. 

The healthy of your sheep is paramount. So when building a shelter for your sheep, ensure that the design makes it easy to clean and maintain.

6. Feed and water your sheep

You will also need feed if you want your sheep to grow faster.

For healthy and faster growth, sheep need a balanced diet of hay, grain, and minerals. 

Hay is supposed to be the main component of their diet, and it should be of good quality. 

You should also provide them with a mineral supplement to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

Make sure that your sheep have access to clean, fresh water at all times. 

Prepare a large, shallow trough that they can easily access. Make sure the trough is cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of disease.

7. Monitor the health of your sheep

Some sheep diseases are dangerous. They can wipe out your flock overnight. I’m certain that you don’t want this to happen to you.

Therefore, look for signs of disease or injury, and take steps to prevent them. Provide sufficient nutrition, shelter, and veterinary care.

Common Sheep Breeds Raised In Kenya

There are several varieties of breeds in Kenya. However, the most common breed varieties worth raising are:

  • Dorper
  • Red Maasai
  • White Maasai
  • Somali


Dorper sheep - Sheep farming in Kenya

The Dorper has a white face and legs and a black body. It has a short, dense coat and requires minimal shearing. 

This breed has a tendency of moving around in large groups.

It matures quickly and requires minimal maintenance. It only takes 6 months to reach maturity. 

If you are looking to produce a large number of sheep in a short amount of time, then the Dorper is the best fit for you. 

It has the ability to withstand extreme temperatures. This makes it an ideal breed for Kenyan farmers in the sheep farming industry.

Red Maasai

Red Maasai

The Red Maasai is one of the large breeds of sheep in Kenya that you can think of raising.

It has a red-brown color with a long, thick coat. It is able to withstand both hot and cold temperatures. 

Additionally, It has a docile temperament, so it is an ideal choice for small-scale farmers.

This breed takes approximately two years to reach maturity. It produces up to four lambs in a year. 

The lambs are typically born with a reddish-brown coat, which darkens with the passage of time.

The Red Maasai is a great choice for farmers in Kenya that want to be selling wool. It produces large amounts of wool.

White Maasai

White Maasai - Sheep farming in Kenya

The White Maasai is great for wool.

They have a short, white coat and a long, curved tail. 

They can survive harsh conditions – both hot and cold climates.

This breed has a lifespan of up to 10 years. They reach maturity in one year. And can produce up to 3  lambs in a year.

Farmers can start raising them for both meat and wool production.


Somali sheep

The Somali sheep is a short, dense coat that is typically white in color. They are able to survive in both hot and cold climates.

It is a  great breed. They are docile, and easy to handle and train. This breed is intelligent. 

However, I must hasten to state that this breed is slow to mature. It takes about 2 years to reach maturity.

This breed of sheep is ideal for meat production. Therefore, it is in high demand both in local and international markets. 

The Somali sheep is also great for that is used in the production of textiles such as 


Sheep By-Products

Sheep are multipurpose animals, and their by-products are used in different ways. Their by-products range from wool,  leather, and fat to milk. 

Wool is an invaluable sheep by-product. It is used in making clothing, blankets, mats, and other valuable items. 

Leather is used to make shoes, bags, and other items. Their leather is durable and can last for several years. 

Sheep fat is used to make soap, candles, and other important items. Their fat is also used to make biodiesel fuel.

Sheep milk is another great resource. It is used to make cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products. 

In addition, sheep milk is also used to make cosmetics and skin care products.

Benefits Of Sheep Farming In Kenya

This agricultural industry comes with a number of benefits and contributes to the country’s economy.

In Kenya, Sheep are a reliable source of income for many rural communities.

Sheep can be sold for a good price. This income can be used to purchase other goods and services or to invest in other agricultural activities.

At its best, It is a sustainable and profitable agricultural activity that provides food, and employment opportunities.

Sheep provide an excellent source of protein and other essential nutrients.

They also provide milk, which is used to make cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products.

Sheep farming can also provide employment opportunities, as shepherds are needed to tend to the sheep.

Their grazing helps to keep grasslands healthy. This helps to prevent soil erosion, which can lead to desertification.

Common Sheep Diseases 

Sheep are susceptible to several diseases. Here are five of the most common diseases that affect sheep:

1. Foot rot

Foot rot disease in sheep - Sheep farming in Kenya

Foot rot is a bacterial infection. It is caused by bacteria called Fusobacterium necrophorum. 

This disease is common in wet, muddy conditions.  

It is highly contagious. So it can spread quickly through a flock. 


  • Foul-smelling discharge from the hoof.
  • Swollen and discolored hoof.
  • In its advanced stage, it spreads to the bones and joints resulting in permanent lameness.


  • Keep the sheep in dry, clean conditions. 
  • Provide foot baths to sheep in wet, muddy environments to prevent the spread of infections.


  • Isolate the infected sheep from others and treat them with antibiotics. 
  • Trim and clean the affected roof to prevent the spread of the infection. 

2. Scrapie

Sheep Scrapie

Scrapie is a neurological disorder that affects the central nervous system.   

It is caused by a prion, an infectious protein particle that can cause damage to the brain and spinal cord. 

This is a highly contagious disease that can spread quickly among sheep. 


  • Loss of coordination, resulting in difficulty in walking and standing. 
  • Weight loss, and wool loss. 


  • Observe good hygiene practices.
  • Isolate infected sheep from others to prevent the further spread of the disease.


  • There is no cure for scrapie. 
  • Treatment only focuses on managing symptoms and preventing further spread. 
  • Administer pain medications to help with coordination.
  • Use antibiotics to treat secondary infections. 

3. Mastitis

Mastitis disease in sheep - Sheep farming in Kenya

Mastitis is a mammary gland infection. It is caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 

This disease is characterized by swelling, redness, and pain in the affected area. 

It reduces milk production in sheep. If left unchecked, it causes serious damage to mammary glands and may lead to death.


  • Swelling of the udder, redness, and pain. 
  • The hotness of the affected area to the touch. 
  • The sheep may be reluctant to move. 
  • A yellowish discharge from the affected area.


  • Observe good hygiene practices.
  • Monitoring the udder often for any signs of infection. 
  • Should you notice any of the signs listed above, seek veterinary help immediately.


  • If it is a bacterial infection, then administer antibiotics.
  • Antiviral medicines are used to treat viral infections.
  • Depending on the severity of the infection, surgery may be needed to get rid of the affected tissue. 

4. Enterotoxemia

Enterotoxemia infection in sheep

Enterotoxemia is a bacterial infection that affects the digestive system.

It produces toxins in the intestines of the sheep. The toxins damage the intestines and other organs. 

The sheep may experience diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss. 

At its worst, however, the sheep may suffer from organ failure, shock, and even death. 


  • Depression, loss of appetite, and difficulty breathing. 
  • Fever and signs of abdominal pain. 


  • Offer clean and sanitary living conditions, and proper nutrition.
  • Avoiding overcrowding. 
  • Vaccinate your flock against the disease to help prevent it. 


  • Treat mild cases with antibiotics and supportive care.

5. Ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma

Ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma disease in goats

OPA is a form of lung cancer that affects sheep. It is a viral infection. 

This infection is caused by the formation of tumors in the lungs, resulting in respiratory distress and death in some instances. 

It is spread through contaminated feed, and water as well as coming in contact with infected sheep.


  • Coughing, difficulty breathing, and weight loss. 
  • Fever and lethargic appearance. 


  • Vaccinate your sheep against the virus.
  • Keep your flock away from contaminated feed and water. 
  • Practice good hygiene practices.


  • There is no cure but antibiotics can be used to minimize the symptoms.
  • If the infection is severe, surgery may be a good option to get rid of the infected tissue.

Problems Faced By Kenyan Sheep Farmers In Kenya

Several Kenyan sheep farmers are facing a number of challenges in their quest to raise and maintain their flocks. 

There are a number of issues. One of them is the lack of access to quality feed. 

Quality feed is expensive. So many farmers do not have the financial muscle to purchase feed from commercial sources.

This has resulted in their flocks not receiving the much-needed nutrition they need. 

This typically results in poor health and decreased productivity. 

Additionally, most Kenyan sheep farmers do not have access to veterinary care and this results in an increase in disease and mortality rates. 

Another challenge is the lack of access to markets. Thus it is difficult to sell their products and make a profit. 

This results in a decrease in income and an inability to purchase the necessary supplies to care for their flock. 

Final Thoughts On Sheep Farming Business In Kenya

Sheep farming is a profitable business industry in Kenya. 

However, before you start raising sheep, find out if there are sheep farming laws that you need to observe.

There are sheep or wool markets in Kenya and other east African countries.

So if you want to start raising sheep for profit, simply take the following 7 easy steps:

1. Research the sheep industry

2. Select a location in Kenya for your sheep farming business 

3. Purchase the right sheep breeds

4. Put up a fence around your sheep farm

5. Build a shelter for your sheep

6. Feed and water your sheep

7. Monitor the health of your sheep

If you really want a profit, you can go the extra mile by giving your sheep feed.

The feed will ensure that they grow at an exponential rate. So you can sell them within a short period of time and for a profit on markets.

Beatious Kahale
Beatious Kahale

I offer advice, tips, and ideas on how to start and grow blogs, agribusinesses, and businesses. I can help people come up with creative ways to make money from their blog, farm, or business, and show them how to market their products and services.

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