A survey by the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) has discovered that the low milk production experienced by farmers in Kakamega County is attributable to poor dairy feeding habits among other factors.
The Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF) Kakamega branch chairman, Joseph Ngaah therefore, says in collaboration with other stakeholders farmers in the region are being educated on the best farming practices to enable them obtain high returns.
We have been instructing dairy farmers to grow adequate fodder for the animals and make hay that can be stored for use in piecemeal, he said.
The ASDSP survey established that most of the farmers were feeding the animals on raw fodder and hence experienced feeds shortage during drought. The prevalent fodder include boma Rhodes, nappier grass and other naturally growing grasses as well as shrubs.
The County ASDSP Coordinator, Zipporah Mugonyi said they are encouraging the farmers to prepare hay and silage in order to have a steady supply of feeds.
We have seen that the farmers waste a lot of feeds through piecemeal harvesting and feeding resulting from leftovers and so we are advising them to make hay which can be served in desirable quantities, she stated.
The feeds constraint notwithstanding, the milk production per cow has increased thanks to the capacity building forums organised by the stakeholder organisations including ASDSP, the county government and Send-a-Cow Kenya.
During the capacity building forums, the selected farmers are taught the appropriate technologies, including proper housing, disease and parasite control as well as correct quality and quantity of feeds.
Farmers have also been taught to formulate feeds on the farm in order to cut back on the cost of production.
Ngaah, who is also, the county dairy value chain chairman, discloses that in the past three years the milk produced per cow per day has gone up from eight litres to twelve.
The ASDSP coordinator added that they have helped the farmers to form producer associations where they collect their milk at a common point before selling for the ease of marketing.
The milk producers have also formed dairy cooperatives that will be marketing the milk on behalf of the members.
There is a milk deficit in region as 53 per cent of the milk sold comes from neighbouring Uasin-Gishu and Nandi counties.
To this end, the county government has implemented a programme dubbed One-Cow initiative where selected households have received 1,300 dairy cows across the county.
In the phase 1 of the initiative, 600 cows were given out 10 per ward in the 60 wards in the year 2015 while the second phase another 700 cows were distributed last month.
The programme is intended to have a mud ball effect where the beneficiaries pass on the calf to another household. To ensure that all the calves are female, the county government supplies subsidised semen to the farmers.
Source: Kenya News Agency