Pregnancy loss due to abortion is one of the major causes of reduced fertility and contributes to adverse economic effects for dairy farms. After five months of pregnancy, abortion is frequently characterized by retained placenta or a cow failing to expel foetal membranes for a few days after losing the foetus. Depending on the stage of pregnancy, the general causes of abortion include infectious agents like bacteria such as brucellosis, leptospirosis and salmonellosis.
Abortion can also be due to viral agents such as Bovine viral diarrhoea, fungi and mycotoxins, genetic abnormalities, high fever, environmental stresses like excess heat, protozoal parasites, injuries, poisons and toxins from plants.
Feeding mouldy feeds like hay or silage is also a possible cause of mycotoxins. An affected cow may return to heat but does not settle until she recovers from the infections after several heat cycles.
Note that all abortion prevention measures start with herd health and other management programmes. Work closely with your veterinarian to determine the cause and develop a vaccination or management programme to prevent further losses.
Take bio-security measures to minimize the risk of introducing diseases, develop proper feeding strategy and control the use of bulls. The main cause of abortion is determined by sending a freshly aborted foetus to a diagnostic laboratory.
To achieve more liters of milk per day, check what you feed your cow as it determines the quality and quantity produced.
The most popular dairy cow is the Friesian, which produces more milk, compared to the Ayrshire, Jersey and Guernsey breeds.The cow that produces the most milk in the world hits 110 litres in a day, but in Kenya the highest is 70 litres.
Breeding cows takes many forms, including artificial insemination. This involves a farmer giving cows semen that will enable a cow produce more milk. The animal feed should contain the necessary minerals to spur milk production. Farmers can grow different types of grass like Napier grass, brachiaria, lucerne and desmodium which are mixed to make cows produce more milk. Molasses are an important ingredient in dairy farms as it provides sugar to animals, improve palatability of food rations and is used in silage making to aid fermentation.
Grass value is added once fermented as molasses have starch and carbohydrates. Fermenting the grass also eases digestion, which makes the cow produce milk faster. The recommended ratio for a milking cow should be 30kg of silage to produce 30 litres of milk per day.
A Friesian cow eats about three per cent of its body weight of dry matter. The Friesian cow also feeds more compared to the other breeds. The dairy meal also forms part of the cow’s feed. It is made of ingredients that give the right balance of energy, protein and minerals.
Milk comprises almost 90 per cent water, therefore, animals drinking water usually have better milk output. For every litre of milk produced a cow needs to drink at least three litres of water. Water also helps to regulate a cow’s body temperature, growth, digestion, reproduction, metabolism, lubrication of joints, excretion and boosts eye sight. Dairy cows should be milked twice a day – early in the morning and around lunch time.
A farmer should also deworm the cows, first when it is two to four months then with intervals of every three months, for maximum production. Calves are dewormed monthly. After deworming the farmer goes for 72 hours without using its milk as it is not fit for human consumption. Good hygiene is essential when milking cows by ensuring hands and clothes are clean and the farmer is in good health.
The cow udder should also be cleaned with warm water using a clean cloth
We can use the following information to facilitate our AI program.
1) The length of standing heat is variable, averages 8-9 hours, and is considerably shorter in some situations.
2) Ovulation (release of the ovum/egg) does not occur until 24 to 32 hours after the start of standing heat … the average is 28 hours.
3) The egg has a fertile life of less than 12 hours after it is released from the ova.
4) Sperm live for an average of 24 hours after they are deposited in the cow’s reproductive tract.
5) The first 6 hours sperm are inside the cow they undergo a biochemical change called capacitation. Capacitation is necessary for sperm to be able to fertilize the egg.
6) The goal is to time insemination so there are many live capacitated sperm cells in the oviducts to greet the egg at the time of ovulation. While these average figures vary between animals and from one heat cycle to the next, they are a valuable guide to determine the best time to breed.
The time-tested rule for when to breed is the a.m./p.m. -p.m./a.m. rule:
1) A cow observed in standing heat in the morning should be bred the afternoon of the same day.
2) A cow observed in standing heat in the afternoon or evening should be bred the following morning.
The a.m./p.m.-p.m./a.m. rule is the industry standard, but it is interesting that acceptable fertility has been achieved when insemination is scheduled only one time each day as long as it is the same time every day. In one study with over 7,000 insemination the 75 day non-return rate was similar for a.m./p.m. and once a day insemination. Cows bred extremely late will have lower conception rates.
The take home message is if we are inseminating our own cows, the a.m./p.m.-p.m./a.m. rule is the rule we should use. That said, if breeding twice a day results in logistical issues, then we can breed once each day and not lose a lot of sleep over that management practice.
Many dairy farmers is to inseminate in the mid-morning and inseminate all cows which have been seen in standing heat since the mid-morning insemination the previous day.
Processors have cut the price of raw milk by Sh3 a litre as the market responds to a steep rise in production but retail prices remain unchanged.
The move has upset farmers currently grappling with high cost of production resulting from increased cost of feeds, with some expected to earn as low as Sh26 per litre of milk from an average of Sh38 earned before the review.
The co-operatives where farmers are attached to normally deduct about Sh4 per litre from farmers as administrative fee and transport cost usually charged by the processors.
“Dear supplier, due to market forces beyond our control, raw milk prices have been reviewed downwards by Sh3 per kilogramme from January 21,” reads one of the text messages sent to farmers.
The Kenya Dairy Board (KDB), the sector regulator, says milk production has steeply increased since November last year, prompting processors to review the price downwards.
“There has been an increase in volumes of milk coming in from farmers and this is what has forced processors to adjust the price. It is a case of supply and demand,” said Margret Kibogy, KDB managing director.
Ms Kibogy said the two main firms — Brookside and New KCC — are now processing an average of 1.2 million litres of milk daily from 800,000 litres around November last year.
The price of 500m long life milk is on average still retailing at Sh50 for all the brands while the ones in pouch, for the same quantity, is selling at Sh45 in most retail shops.
Farmers have protested the cut arguing that low prices in the wake of high cost of feeds will keep them out of business.
“This news has come as a shocker to farmers especially at this time when we are grappling with high cost of animal feeds,” says Stanley Ng’ombe, chairman of the Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation.
Mr Ng’ombe says production cost per litre of milk is Sh22.75 adding that the current price makes it hard for farmers to break even.
However, the board puts the cost of production at Sh19 per litre for zero grazing, Sh17 for semi-zero grazing and Sh10 for the open field grazing.
This is the first time in two years that processors have cut the price by a huge margin, after it remained constant for the whole of last year.
The Business Daily was unable to get any response from the processors as phone calls and email sent went unanswered.
In many nations of the world, the agric sector has been proven to be one of the major income generators. As a matter of fact, no nation can survive without a vibrant agric sector or putting in place a provision for the importation of food for its citizens. So as an entrepreneur if you are looking for a business to start, you can consider starting your own agriculture related business and one of the business you can successfully start is a cucumber farm.
Cucumber is a vegetable that is widely consumed all over the world in different form due to the health benefits it posses; in some quarters, cucumbers are referred to as super – food simply because of the overall health benefit one stands to gain when it is consumed. Some of the health benefits of cucumber are; it is a good source of vitamins A, B1, B6, C and D, it is used to stimulate hair growth and it is also used for the treatment of skin irritation. Cucumber are also effective in the fight against cancer, they are also used in the treatment of diabetes. They can be used to cure bad breath, hangover and to rehydrate the body.
Statistics as it that cucumber happens to be among the top 4 vegetable that is cultivated and consumed on a global scale. No doubt starting a cucumber farm can be considered to be relatively cheap and it is highly profitable.Now let us quickly consider the steps to follow to be able to start your own cucumber farm from the scratch;
Starting a Cucumber Farm – Sample Business Plan Template
1. Conduct Your Feasibility Studies
Conducting a research and a feasibility study of the line of business you want to start is just the wisest thing to do. There are various species / breeds / varieties of cucumber and there are regions where these species can thrive the most; conducting your own research and feasibility studies will give you the information you need to start your own cucumber farm in the right location. Truly, the report you get from your feasibility studies will give you a clearer picture of the cost implication of starting a cucumber farm and how you can easily attract customers to buy from you once your cucumbers are ready for harvest. One good thing about cucumber is that it can be cultivated all through the year as long as there is adequate supply of water.
2.Write Your Business Plan
Writing a business plan for any business you are about to launch can never be over emphasized. Although the average farmer won’t bother writing a business plan, but the truth remains that if you can successfully draft your own business plan for your cucumber farm, then you will be certain that you will do pretty well with the business. Your business plan will prepare you to run an organized farm. As a matter of fact, with a good business plan, you can easily attract loans from investors and financial institutions to grow your cucumber farm into a highly mechanized farm.
3. Acquire Farm Land in a Suitable Location
Although cucumber can grow in any location as long as there are sunshine, and water supply but it grows very well in a rich humid soil. So if you want to struggle less and save operational cost, it is advisable that you choose a farm land that is located in an area that is humid and highly fertile – a farm land close to a water bed is ideal.
The truth is that if you choose to cultivate cucumber in an area with scarcity of rain and far from a river, then you will spend more on irrigation and operational cost et al. Just make sure that you consult expert to help you with a good location to start your own cucumber farm since you want to cultivate it on a commercial scale.
4. Prepare Your Land and Plant Your Cucumber Seed
Once you are able to secure your farm land, then the next thing to do is to prepare the land before planting your cucumber seedlings. Part of what you need to do to prepare your farm land for the cultivation of cucumber is to clear all the grasses in the land, till the land and apply fertilizer (especially if you are not interested in organic farming) and then dig holes of about 2.5cm deep to plant the cucumber seeds and then ensure that each hole is spaced 40cm apart to allow for good growth. You can also prepare your cucumber farm land (in rows and columns) to allow for easy passage of both human and tractors for the purpose of watering, weeding and harvesting.
5. Harvest and Market Your Cucumber
The fact that cucumbers are generally consumed all over the world because of its health values makes the vegetable very easy to market. The truth is that, you are likely not going to struggle to market your cucumber simply because cucumbers are always in high demand. So all you need to do is to inform locals that you have cucumber to sell and they will come rushing to your farm.
You also have the option to either sell in wholesale or retail your cucumbers in a fruit / vegetable market around you. You can also become a major supplier to companies who are into the processing of cucumbers. Just ensure that your cucumbers are big, green and attractive and you will struggle less to attract customers.
Lastly, you must ensure that you make use of the right pesticide whenever pest attack you cucumber farm so that your cucumber can come out beautiful. Another option that you can choose if you want to go into cucumber farming is to go the organic way. Cucumbers that are grown organically are more expensive than normal cucumber and you stand the chance of making more profit.