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Income from donkeys; small holder farms; farm level factors
Few studies have documented the economic benefits obtained from working donkeys within the context of a highland agro-ecosystem. The objective of this study was to determine farm level factors associated with household incomes for farms that keep donkeys within smallholder farms in central Kenya. Data was collected using a semi- structured questionnaire administered to 351 donkey owners and users and analyzed using descriptive and inferential analysis. The results show that an average household owned three donkeys with a ratio of male to female donkeys estimated at 2:1. Majority (83%) of the donkeys were purchased into farms. Most households (98%) relied on donkeys as their primary source of income. The monthly gross margin obtained through commercial transport of goods using donkeys was 9,272 ± 41.7 KES implying a gross profit of 62%. The farm level factors that were associated with level of household incomes included the number of working donkeys reared per farm (P < 0.001), number of hours the donkeys worked (P = 0.05), savings from using own donkey transportations (P < 0.001) and engaging in crops (P = 0.017) and other livestock farming (P = 0.004). Alternative household income could be earned from the sale of donkey manure, hiring out of donkeys for work and sale of adult donkeys or their foals. Indirectly, use of own donkey for transport saved on transport and labor charges. These results call for a shift in attention on donkey health and welfare, which is ignored by livestock extension agents and policy makers in most farming systems across the developing world, where communities rely on donkeys as a source of subsistence for livelihoods.