Tips to success in dairy farming

Investing in dairy farming needs to be done in a cautious manner in order to optimise the efficiency of available farm resources, or, simply put, to help you do more with less.

Taking pre-cautions can help an individual achieve a sound health, good animal welfare, social responsiveness, high milk production and improved cost control-all that defines a profitable dairy farm.

From a morning programme dubbed ‘BusinessAM’ on Metropol TV which broadcasts every morning on weekdays, hosted by Simba Charles Kiage, interviewed Managing Director at Tanolope Consulting Firm Limited Alex Gathii who outlined some of the tips for a proper dairy investment for any willing dairy farmer.

Absolute comfort in a Cow

The basic premise of milking more efficiently through a parlor, while being able to keep larger groups of cows together in management groups in larger herds, is sound from a management and economic perspective. Cows are “free” to move between a feed bunk where a total mixed ration (TMR) is available every hour of every day, and a stall, designed to provide her ample rest on a clean, dry, comfortable surface.

It is commonly suggested that cows make more milk when they are lying down, as blood flow through the external pudic artery increases by around 24 to 28% when lying compared to standing up.

It seems more likely that the requirement for rest is a threshold event, and that all cows, regardless of yield, require a minimum period. A strong case can be made that the true cost of failing to achieve this rest is an increase in lameness, and lameness has significant impacts on production.

Ideally, when you give a cow maximum comfort you will be able to give maximum milk

Cow health

Cow health products, including de-wormers, minerals, and tick spray, all of which can improve milk production by keeping the cow healthy. Pasture crops, in particular, Desmodium and Boma Rhodes (grass). These crops are high in nutrients for cows, and cows that are fed well produce a lot more milk.

Feeding the cow

Some literature compares a dairy cow to a factory. That means what is fed to the cow determines to a large extent the quality and quantity of milk produced. A dairy cow may be steamed up by providing good quality hay, dairy meal concentrate 1-2kg per cow per day and Intromin mineral block supplement free choice.

 After calving, a dairy cow should be fed 3kg of concentrates (dairy meal) per day depending on individual production. Mr. Githii said that it takes about 60-80% of production cost, and once you do the feeding right, one will be able to make dairy investment right.

Record keeping

Feeding records can be utilized both for everyday administration and change of the feed proportion. Together with the production information, it can, for instance, be used to change the feed proportion if a milking cow requires more concentrate, or help in choices about inspecting animals which appear to not develop, but rather still eat a lot.

It can as well be utilised for the arrangement of exercises identified with feed conservation and the foundation of grazing territories in the accompanying season. You are able to track your expenses, have notification by adopting ICT innovations like smart cow you’re able to keep your records and is even able to do you dairy performance indicators.

Concentrates for dairy cows

The normal feeding practice for many dairy farmers is to provide a constant amount of concentrate throughout the lactation period. The concentrate is restricted on a certain level, usually 2 to 3 kg daily or less, while the roughage is fed either at will or in a mix.

The disadvantages of this strategy are the increased risk for metabolic disturbances and the difficulty to reach high peak yields. However, the technique is simple and therefore the investment cost can be relatively low.

“Concentrates in Kenya, as in other parts of the world, are expensive therefore it is important to use them effectively. Inefficient feeding induces the risk of metabolic diseases and dropped milk yield which are sources of monetary losses.” Said Githii.

Value addition and revenue diversification

According to Mr. Githii, Value addition in dairy farming refers to the increase in value of a commodity as a result of changing its physical state, differentiated production, product segregation or employing a different marketing approach. The ‘new’ product must have some additional value that will persuade the customer to fork-out that extra coin on the newer product.

From raw milk, you can make cheese, yoghurt, butter, ice cream, milk shakes, flavoured milk or maziwa lala and it fetches more than raw milk.

The flavouring, processing and packaging can transform the physical product that any dairy farmer has and would result in customers willing to pay more for the product.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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