Animal feeds mixer slices costs for dairy breeder Buzeki
January is always a dry and difficult month especially for dairy farmers who do not plan well to stock feeds for their animals.
Such dairy farmers are having it rough due to soaring prices of animal feeds.
But for those who plan ahead factoring in the tough times, things are more bearable.
One of such breeder is veteran farmer — Zedekiah Bundotich Kiprop — who has invested in machinery and excellent feeds storage and management.
At his expansive farm in Ainabkoi, in Uasin Gishu County, Kiprop, has made strides in improving his milk production through mechanisation.
Kiprop has invested in a heavy duty animal feeds mixer that processes volumes of feeds that meets each cow’s needs.
The automotive machine that uses a Power Take Off has a shaft attached to a tractor for power generation. The machine he says, has many benefits.
One, it neatly mix various feeds in 20 minutes. Two, it is easy to use and maintenance is simple.
According to Hillary Komen, a veterinary officer at the farm, the machine has made it possible for production of large quantities of feeds within a short time.
“The feed processing machine we adopted three years ago has made work easy for us. We mix hay, silage, cotton and sunflower to the intended ratios and it is mixed evenly before it is fed to cows,” says Komen.
He says initially, feeds were mixed manually and it was not only a messy and costly affair, but also time-consuming.
“But now, the process is faster, cleaner and cheaper because we do not need to hire labourers. What makes our work even easier is that we get the feeds from our farm. We plant sunflower, hay and cotton making it cheap compared to those who have to buy everything from traders,” he says.
Cotton and sunflower he says, are ideal for dairy cows because they are high in protein while hay and silage are rich in fibre.
Cotton and other feeds are measured with a weighing machine to ensure the cows achieve the correct Total Mix Ratio (TMR) for high milk yields.
“At the farm, we have categorised our animals based on their production. High producers are fed first then the others. This way we invest more in high yielders,” he says.
The feed they make is richer and cheaper compared to that bought in shops which has funny additives.
“By making our own feeds, we have cut on production costs and our cattle eat healthy balanced meals. With those bought in shops, you can never tell the kind of ratio placed on the feeds,” he adds.
The feed ratio ranges from 200 kilos of cotton, sun flower, hay and silage for blending.
The mix has seen increased milk production.
Because of the sufficient feeds, each of his freshian cows produce an average 24 litres of milk a day. The lowest producers, jerseys, produce 12 litres a day.
His breeds comprise Friesian, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss and Jersey.
Milking is also done using machines.
“We milk our animals thrice a day using machines and store the raw milk in a cooler before it is sold to New Kenya Cooperative Creameries,” he says.
How to be a good dairy farmer
For those who want to follow in his footsteps, he has take homes. To be a good dairy farmer takes time and commitment, he says.
For him, before he dived into it, he spent quality time researching online and engaging with veteran breeders.
Feeding is also important for high yields.
“It is sad that most farmers want to practise profitable dairy farming but they have not factored in constant feeds supply. A farmer must invest in feeds by growing their own and storing it to be used during the dry seasons,” he says.
Using quality semen for Artificial Insemination (AI) is also key.
This way, one is guaranteed improved breed quality which translate to increased milk supply.
Dairy has more cash
Having seen the proceeds from dairy farming, Kiprop is rethinking maize farming.
“Initially, I used to fully plant maize for commercial purposes but the wait and returns were not pleasant. I want to put more focus on dairy keeping. The returns are guaranteed and the yield impressive,” says Buzeki.
To add on, in dairy farming, farmers are able to engage in value addition and use manure to make bio-gas.
“There is not much to get from maize. Each year, the market prices drop and more grains from neighboring countries flood the market but we have never had a situation where milk is imported due to its less production,” he says.
Going forward, his desire is to make his farm a centre of excellence on matters dairy.
“I want to make dairy part of my corporate social responsibility by welcoming young aspiring farmers to my farm so that they can learn on the importance of genetics, feeding, disease management, fertility among others. I want to invest in training the next generation of dairy keepers,” he says.