Chronicles Of A Beginner Dairy Farmer Sucessful Farming Made Possible
dairy-farming
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It is always difficult to start something new. Especially farming. I came to realize this when I decided to start dairy farming. My initial plan was to purchase several high yielding cows and build from there but after giving it some thought, I decided to try improve the cows that were already there. Now here is the challenge, the cows were nothing close to pedigree, some crossbred beyond breed identification and on a normal pasture diet. At the time, only 3 cows were being milked producing a total of around 6 litres.

feeding dairy cows

The herd

 

I was determined and convinced that with the right feeds and proper management, this would improve. I started off by buying 300 bales of hay from a neighbor. This, i figured would be enough for some time since there was no rain at the time. The bales were shredded into small pieces and this formed the first part of the improved diet. Milk production improved by at least 1 litre per cow per milking making it 2 litres per cow per day.

I did a bit of reading on proper dairy nutrition and realizes that I had to add some proteins and energy to the diet. I had visited several farms and had an idea of a good protein source (cotton seedcake) and coming from a farming area maize was available. This however I had to grind coarsely. At this time two other cows had calved and the overall milk production was slightly higher.

My research had shown that a rapid change in a cow’s diet may cause digestion/rumen problems since the rumen is not used to the feed yet. This is especially dangerous in high grain diets. I also learnt of a disorder known as acidosis. This is common when the feed is cut into pieces too small. Less than 1cm I think. Anyway, for this reason I changed the cow’s diet gradually especially when it was time to introduce ground maize. This acidosis business had gotten me very scared especially when death was a possibility. I successfully introduced grain and the cows now consume about 2 kg’s per day per cow. I decide to stop here as some of the cows started showing grain in the dung and I figured this meant that not all of it was being digested hence no need for increasing the grain amount.

It is during this period that I recognized the importance of maize grain in my diet. One cow, the best producer which was at 7kgs in the morning (9.5 per day) reduced daily production by 2kgs in the morning and 1.5 in the evening one day after I ran out of maize. I did some reading and found out that cows in early lactations have require a lot of energy. The cow actually starts using up energy from its body to compensate and hence start losing body weight. Maize being a good source of energy seemed to be a good supplement and when it wasn’t available, the cow dint have enough energy for itself and milk production.

Recors showing milk production per cow

Recors showing milk production per cow

At the moment, the cows are on a diet of Grass hay and ground maize. This diet lacks an adequate source of protein (I ran out of cotton seed cake and the stuff costs ksh40 per kg so you understand). The highest producer is at 6kgs in the morning and 2 in the evening. The others are at an average of 4-6kgs per day. This I guess is mostly due to the fact that most are first calver’s and they weren’t on a good diet before calving. Its been around 5 weeks now since the feeding program started. Il have to wait and see if production changes especially since I intend to reintroduce proteins.

Despite not hitting the record milk yields that most good farmers get, I take positives from fact that the cows reacted positively to diet change. This for me proved that proper feeding can affect milk production. Maybe the production would have been higher if the cows were on the diet before calving and had better genes.

I hope I get the chance to carry out this experiment on improved high yielding cows some day.

Moral of the story, Feeding GREATLY affects milk production.

 

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Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin)
Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin)
I am a farmer and business man, I love travelling, exploring and meeting new people. I think I was born a farmer. I want to make farming great again and tell the story.So help me God!

26 Comments

  1. michael odero okumu michaelokumu says:

    pls i need your help

  2. Aron Kimani says:

    I like dairy farming please advance me where I can get good breed j have borans from nachakos -kathiani

  3. Anne Comet says:

    I have a farm in makueni kenya i need water to anaible me start my dairy farming what can ido to get water?

  4. Zachary M Olaka says:

    Quite encouraging. Ran into same problems.

  5. denise teley says:

    i want to start farming can is start with any calves?

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Yes denise.
      You can start with calves although it will take longer to get to the milk production stage.
      You will also incur the costs associated with raising the calves well.

  6. kenneth says:

    hello want to start dairy farming am from Githunguri ,kiambu county,where can i get good breeds and the cost

    • mark opondo says:

      hi im in nakuru and can get you good cows my no 0726417157

      • Rowland james says:

        Am from nigeria and interested in cow business ho can i buy from your country and deliver in my country if possible,

        • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

          Hi Rowland,

          You can certainly buy animals in Kenya. I am however not familair with the legal processes of transporting the animals to your country.

  7. Cris says:

    Hi EK

    I am intending to start a dairy & poultry farm in Siaya. I am very new, so far has 2 foundation cattle a freshian bull and Zebu. These were bought locally. The zebu is about to give birth. I also have two sheep and few chicks am experimenting with. I need advice/assistance on the following:
    design/construction of low cost dairy cattle shed, chicken coop, goat/sheep shed
    sourcing of improved breeds suitable for Siaya. For cattle I reckon i would need 2-4 additional heifers
    advice on poultry and rabbit -thinking of producing eggs and chick meat
    animal feeds,
    setting up low cost bio-digester,
    vet extension services
    any training for beginner you may suggest.

    I would like also to hear you thoughts/ advice on the market esp Siaya and environ

    Please any advice would be appreciated

    Regards
    Cris

  8. laban says:

    have liked your advice am also starting the dairy farming venture in the process of improving my animals. please i will like the know more about hydroponic fodder technique.
    thank you

  9. emmanuel says:

    LOOKING FOR DAIRY BREEDS

  10. rebeccah says:

    I have a freshian cow in nyeri county that is currently producing a total of 5 kgs per a day , how do i boost its production ?i give plenty of nappier grass , dairy meal with no improvement in its production please advice .

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Hi Rebeccah,
      Production of dairy cows depends on a combination of good management feeds and genetics. If your cow is not producing enough, then the problem is down to one of those factors.What specific quantities do you feed?

  11. Kamami Wilson says:

    Dear Eric, Am desperate. I started my dairy project in January 2013. I brought in 8 cows and made for them a modern shed. I brought in 500 bails of hay and a substantial amout of commercial feeds.

    The cows did very well physically but I quickly realised that I had collected cows that were either old or not the right breed. No quantity or quality of feeds made them go on heat or produce more that four littres a day. This way I got financially exhausted and lacked feeds even bad ones for the animals. Some got funny diseases and I sold most of them to butchers at a throw away price. From that lot, I kept two heifers which I could now support from my 1 acre piece of land. They did not have a very good calfhood and so they are taking time to go on heat, though one is now 26 months old.

    I still want to dairying. I have tried out corn sillage liked it, though the labour involved is immense. I am feeding the heifers on sillage and they like it.

    I intend to go for hay production purposely for my heard. Please keep enlighting us.

    Thanks.

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Hi Wilson,
      Sorry for the bad experience you had. Dairy farming when done well can be very productive but unfortunately man farmers are being duped into buying cows that are being disposed off by other farmers.
      Keep heart and give it another try. This time get as much assistance as possible to source for the right dairy cows. As much as cows from established farms may be expensive, their quality is usually assured as good.
      We can also assist in helping you source for affordable quality foundation cows with average production to high production from some of our good breeding farmers. You can reach me on 0734728059.
      Please keep sharing your experiences with us and we can assist each other in this wonderful journey.
      Thanks

  12. charity says:

    Hie Plz send me the table ffrom Your article, how to feed dairy cows. I couldnt access it

  13. Rose says:

    i wish to start a dairy farming venture in Engineer, Kinangop area and wish to locate a person who can make good silage above the ground and also a good shed maker with iron poles

  14. Simon Kinyua says:

    I want to start dairy farming in nyeri county nairutia and I have little knowledge on this.Pls advice.

    • Eric K. (Farming Afrika Admin) says:

      Hi Simon,

      I would advice you attend a training session at actual farms.
      There are farms open to training new farmers at a fee these days eg Baraka Farm in Eldoret.
      I would advice you look for centers closer to Nyeri. Check out this website that has some training farms listed.
      http://cowsoko.com/Dairy_Experience?FEID=4

  15. stephen says:

    i want to start dairy farming in kiambu but i have a small space. please advice

  16. Thilange says:

    I need high yield dairy cow. in calf

  17. Titus says:

    i want to start a dairy farming in kesses uasin gishu county, kindly advice on good dairy practices especially feeding and breeds suitable for this area.

  18. philister chelangat says:

    I am in a process to begining a dairy farming and would love to get alot of information.

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