Dairy practice


The following is the recommended housing plan for a small scale zero grazing unit. The cubicle of a dairy cow shed has three distinct areas:

  • The resting and sleeping cubicle or compartment
  • The cattle walking or manure places
  • The cattle forage, feeding and watering place

The resting and sleeping cubicle or compartment

Each animal has its own compartment or sleeping place. Separation between compartments is done by wooden rails or posts.

The floor of the house can be constructed from ordinary soil from the farm. Soil is much more cheaper and comfortable to the animal than concrete or stones. The soil can be replaced if dirty or worn out. The floor of the sleeping place is raised 25cm above the level of walking and manuring passage.

The recommended standard width is 4ft or 120cm and standard length of 7ft or 210cm. The cubicle should not be too long or too wide or the floor will get dirty and consequently also the animals. The cubicle is of the right size if the droppings fall on the walking and manuring and not on the floor of the resting and sleeping compartment. For heifers the length and width of the cow cubicle should be reduced by moving the neck control posts towards the manuring and walking passage and by fitting another side wall into the cubicle.

Provide a roof over the resting and sleeping compartment in order to provide shade and to prevent the area from getting wet and dirty.

The cattle walking or manure places

This should be constructed solidly with concrete because the area is used heavily by animals. Mix cement, sand and ballast in the ration of 1:2:3. The floor should slope towards the end of the building where manure is stored in a pit about 3-5m away from the stable.

The feeding and watering place

Construct troughs for feeding and drinking water on the opposite side of the sleeping and resting compartment along the walking manuring passage. 2.5-3ft or 90cm long feed troughs per cow can be constructed using woods, stonesor concrete.

Construct a water trough between the cow and young stock section. Use concrete or water drum.


Top view

Side elevation

KUHN machines


The consequences, especially with a herbicide, can be costly. Apply too much and the crop may be damaged or suppressed; apply too little, and weeds may be inadequately controlled.

Using more than is necessary is also a waste of expensive product

When calibrating the boom sprayer , first carry out the necessary calculations and adjustments on a section of road. Next, test the rig on the land; wheel slippage might result in a slightly higher volume than that used on the hard road.

The difference will not be enough to be harmful, but it is worth taking into account – especially as it may vary from land to land, depending on the condition of the soil and whether it is an even, prepared land or has furrows formed into beds.

Kuhn optis boom sprayer, 600 litres

Follow these steps to carry out calibration accurately and to ensure that the tractor driver follows the correct procedure for spraying:

Step 1
Measure a 100m section of road. Decide on a suitable tractor speed for spraying by selecting the correct gear and engine speed. Use a permanent marker to mark the engine revolutions on the glass of the rev counter. In a suitable spot, mark the gear to be used.

Step 2
Bring the engine up to the correct speed and adjust the spray pressure to get the correct droplet size for the operation. Mark the spot on the gauge where the pressure needle should remain.

With a herbicide, use a flat nozzle and adjust the pressure so that the droplets are the right size: the spray should not be so fine that it drifts away. Getting this right involves both pressure and nozzle size. When checking for drift, look at the spray from the front and the back; it is easier to see the fine droplets from certain positions.

Step 3
Measure the time it takes to drive the tractor for 100m and record this in a suitable place.

Step 4
Place a measuring vessel under a nozzle and let if fill for the time it took the tractor to cover 100m.

Step 5
Multiply this volume by the number of nozzles on the boom to obtain the volume of spray mixture applied over the width of the spray boom every 100m. If the spray boom is 10m wide, you’ll have the amount of mixture applied to 1 000m² (100m x 10m). Multiply this by 10 to obtain the volume in litres applied to 1ha.

Before you spray the land, take the volume of the spray tank and calculate the area that the tank should cover. If you end up covering slightly less area due to the condition of the soil, make the new calculation and adjust the spray accordingly.

Step 6
To double-check, take the measuring vessel and walk behind the boom, collecting spray from a nozzle over the time it takes the tractor to cover 100m. Measure this volume to ensure that it conforms to your calculations.

Step 7
Check that each nozzle sprays correctly and all nozzles deliver the same amount. Inspect for damaged nozzles. Remember that nozzles wear out and deliver more mixture as a result.

Most farmers use the correct product but neglect calibration as it requires extra work. The effort is worth it, believe me!

Decision making


In dairy farming, conservation of forages must be embraced for high production.

Forages are commonly conserved in the form of hay or silage. A majority of Kenyan farmers, however, avoid venturing into either haymaking or silage making, owing to high capital expense, but many of these farmers have sufficient machinery at hand to do both operations.

Conventionally, farmers are used to making hay from pasture grasses like Rhodes or legumes like Lucerne while silage is made from fodder crops like maize.

However silage can still be made from both pastures and legumes alike. Some farmers may ask why one should make silage rather than hay from pasture.

There is something to be said for both forms of conserved forage, so let us consider some of the advantages and disadvantages of making silage rather than hay from pastures:


Advantages of silage over hay

• Silage making is less dependent on the weather patterns and as such silage can be made even during rainy seasons whereas for hay – well, the saying goes “make hay while the sun shines”

• Unlike haymaking, there is less bleaching of the silage by the sun with a consequent loss of carotene (vitamin A).
• Bulky pastures can be ensiled easily, but not so easily made into hay.

• There is no fire hazard with silage.

• Silage is better as a fodder bank because hay oxidizes during storage which considerably lowers its nutritive value.


• Transportation costs are higher during silage making.

• Hay is more acceptable to young ruminants unlike silage.

Maize is still the crop most widely used for silage in Kenya, but it could be argued that maize now, and in the future, will be grown more for grain production, both for human and non-ruminant consumption, and that only the residue (stover) will be used for ruminant animal production.

Maize stover is, however, very poor in nutritive value, especially in terms of crude protein content. The alternative would then be pastures, particularly perennial pastures for silage. Apart from the issue of maize competition between humans and livestock, other benefits of pasture grass silage over maize silage include:

• Grass silages represent a low-cost roughage feed which can be fed throughout the year including periods of drought because perennial pastures are cheaper to grow compared to annual crops like maize.

In addition, the process of making grass silage is repeated three to four times every year in the same areas. Due to the rapid growth of the grass there is usually an excess of biomass in the rainy season which can be ensiled at relatively low costs, if properly made.

This means that the cost of a kilogramme of grass silage dry matter is way cheaper than that of maize silage.

• Higher crude protein (CP) content which favours increased milk production. Crude protein content of grass pasture ranges between 12 per cent to 17 per cent while that of maize is around nine per cent to 11 per cent.

A dairy cow weighing about 500kg and producing 20 litres of milk requires a minimum of 16 per cent crude protein in its diet.

The maize crop is vulnerable to diseases like maize leaf necrosis, attack by pests like army worms or ‘choking’ by weeds.

On the other hand, given adequate fertilisation, grasses often thrive and smother weds while remaining relatively resistant to pests and diseases.

Time to cut

The longer the pasture is left before cutting, the poorer the quality, although a greater bulk of material is harvested. It is preferable to sacrifice quantity for quality, but this would depend largely on what class of livestock is to receive the silage.

For instance, lactating dairy cows require better quality silage compared to dry cows. Pasture species like Kikuyu grass, Rhodes grass and Star grass are harvested at a height of between 18cm to 25cm (around five weeks of growth would yield up to 3.5 tonnes of dry matter (DM) or 11.6 tonnes fresh (30 per cent DM) silage per hectare.

Due to the increasing prices of hay coupled with its relative lower nutrient content, pasture silage is becoming a better alternative.

However to fully realise its benefits, the silage needs to be prepared and stored well. The following are requirements for making good pasture silage.

• Before closing off a pasture for silage, graze it heavily or remove any build-up of old herbage material by other means, to ensure that the new growth is of high quality.

• Top dress with nitrogenous fertilizer (like CAN) after herbage removal at closing off to exploit the full potential of the pasture for optimal production.

• Although some field losses will occur, most pastures should be wilted to 30 to 35 per cent DM content. Most pastures cut at the right stage for optimum quality contain about 15 per cent DM. On a hot day the rate of drying will be such that the DM increases about three to four per cent per hour.

This means that one should allow a 3 to 4 hour wilting period during hot weather and about a full day’s wilting period for other times of the year.

• Pasture that is chopped into short lengths (about 2.5cm) when ensiling, is easy to compact and feed out.

• Plan to fill the silo as soon as possible. Otherwise, cover each day’s fill with polythene sheeting to reduce air movement.

• Seal the silage within three days. Fermentation takes three to six weeks. Water or air seepage after fermentation destroys preserving acids and allows fungal development and secondary fermentation to take place.

• Use additives where necessary. Legumes and some grasses like Rhodes, that are low in soluble carbohydrate (less than 10 per cent), will require a carbohydrate additive such as molasses.

Dairy practice


Many dairy farmers have raised inquiries concerning the most effective practices for a profitable zero-grazing enterprise. Dairy farmers ought to perceive that zero-grazing is different from zero feeding.

Many farmers have incurred huge prices in putting in place zero-grazing enterprises however have ended up failing miserably. Influential leaders haven’t been spared either. And all this is often because of an absence of understanding of the pertinent needs for a profitable zero-grazing investment.

Zero-grazing or stall feeding is essentially confining animals in an exceedingly stall and feeding them there. There’s minimum movement of cows because they’re not allowed to graze within the fields and so the term zero grazing. Several dairy farmers in Kenya hold the zero-grazing model of farm production attributable to the various advantages accruing from it. Issues like shortage of pasture, low productivity of dairy cows, caliber fodder, prevalence of diseases and lack of cash are handled during this system of farm production.

The zero-grazing unit

Zero-grazing unit aspect elevation


Cows are unbroken and fed within the stall all year. The positioning where the unit is constructed determines the potency of operations throughout the zero-grazing enterprise. It ought to be close to as potential to the supply of forage to scale back labor prices of carrying the cut grass to the cows and carrying manure back to the farm. Zero-grazing needs an increased level of labor input, due to the requirement to chop grass daily. The time demand is about three-man hours/cow/day. Proximity to the homestead in respect to the biogas plant is additionally a very important thought.

The quality and amount of construction material ought to be assessed completely to work out the smallest amount potential value whereas maintaining quality of the house. Quality materials that are regionally accessible will greatly scale back prices. The cow shed should be practical, low cost and long lasting. The selection of a skilled worker is vital as a result of plenty of high-priced material may be wasted by hiring a foul skilled worker. Note that the foremost expensively engineered stable isn’t perpetually the most effective and most economical one. Farmers are advised to use recommended zero-grazing housing plans.

Improved dairy breeds

In order to extend milk production, you would like to target fewer, higher fed and higher quality animals. Stock the units with dairy cows that are bred specifically for milk yield. Vital dairy breeds of cows in Kenya for high-milk yield are Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey, milk cow and Sahiwal.

Maintain the farm breeds by upgrading your stock through AI exploitation tested dairy-bull semen. choosing sensible cows and culling non-playacting ones let alone sensible calf rearing for replacement stock ought to be an integral part of the system.

Adequate forage resource base

Grassland management and adaptability are the keys to the effectiveness of this method. Planning is vital to confirm there’s perpetually adequate forage accessible for the animals. Zero-grazing will offer opportunities for herd growth by increased forage utilization or through accessing land on the far side cow walking distance for grazing. Assume commercially and recognize the most forage production potential of your farm holding and therefore the potential quantity of off farm forage accessible to your herd in an exceedingly given year. This may change you to work out the most range of animals your zero-grazing enterprise can support. The quantity of forage, if obtained inside or outside the farm, is really the one most resource that determines the quantity of cows or animals which will be sustained within the unit because of.

  • In feeding the cows the forage to concentrate quantitative relation cannot surpass 60:40 %. A quantitative relation of 70:30 is suggested.
  • Forages take time to ascertain as hostile concentrates which might be purchased on demand.

Elephant (nappier) grass (penisetum puperum) grass is most well-liked because the main fodder crop as a result of it’s advantage of being comparatively simple to grow and re-grows apace when cutting. Different helpful crops or grasses are fodder maize and fodder sorghum. Opt for the foremost appropriate fodder to your section.

Replenish soil fertility by utilization of all manure on the Napier crop each two to three days. Apply four luggage of fifty kg of fertilizer NPK fertilizer (20-10-10) per acre per annum. This could additionally apply once establishing different quite fodder. Harvest the mature Napier grass when it’s mature to 60-90cm tall. The aim should be to supply the best quantity of dry matter (DM) per unit area of fodder.

Plant 0.75 – one acre of Napier grass per mature cow and her offspring. A daily intake of 75-100kg of recent grass/cow may be achieved with sensible management to give a dry matter intake of 14-16kg/day. A recent weight intake of 100kg/cow/day would be needed for 15kg DM of grass.

Become brilliant at manufacturing and preserving feed for the season to confirm that milk production is maintained at a gentle rate throughout the year. one in all the best issues is providing sensible quality feed to the herd throughout the season. Dig a silage pit to store and preserve animal feed. Learn to store grass to be used throughout the season by creating your own silage and fodder. The increased utilization of off farm fodder will provide a rise of stocking rate on the farm. You’ll be able to get or rent additional land for animal feed or purchase feed from neighbors.


Cows fed to capability on grasses alone have the potential to supply up to a most of seven kilos of milk per day. Extra milk is supported by concentrates. Keep in mind that it’s pointless to feed supplements once forage needs don’t seem to be met.

Give concentrate supplement because the main supply of energy and energy. Most farmers like giving farm meal to the cows at milking time. Supplement at a rate of one kilo for every 1.5 liters of milk the cow produces on prime of the seven kilos of milk contributed by grass. Different concentrates like edible seed cake, cotton seed cake and bran are accessible. For instance, farmers say that the employment of brewer’s waste as a feeding supplement, ad lib, will increase milk production by seven liters per day.

But the foremost vital factor is to own your ration formula right. Ration formulation could be an advanced method and any farmer cannot simply bed. You may want the talents of skilled professional to return up with the proper mixture of the feeds accessible to your cows. Invest in an exceedingly chaff-cutter to mill crop residues for feed so nothing goes to waste. Cows should have adequate feeding house, and wastage should be monitored, to confirm feed intake is maximized. Wastage ought to be but five-hitter, and refused material should be far away from the feeding space daily, as this can decompose rapidly.

Innovative dairy farmers have come back up with home-mix farm rations. An example composition of a one hundred kilo of home-mix farm ration is forty kilo flower cake, forty kilo maize grain, ten kilo sorghums, five kilo Glycine max beans and five kilo dried cassava chips. The mixture is dried and processed. Farmers who use this home-mix state that they get double as much milk from their home combine as they are doing for constant amount of purchased business dairy meal.

Mineral lick ought to be offered to the cows ad libitum within the mineral box. Water ought to be accessible throughout the day because it makes most of the milk.

Stable manure production

Manure ought to be treated rigorously to reap most get benefit from it. Manure contain high content of organic matter and minerals that improve soil fertility so forage yields and is supply of material for biogas production. Cover the manure pit to stop nitrogen losses.

One cow will produce up to twenty tons of compost per year depending on accessibility of crop residues. Twenty tons of compost contains close to eighty kilos of nitrogen, forty kilos of phosphate and ten kilos of hydroxide.

The manure made from three cows is comfortable to supply thequantity of gas required for cooking and lighting within the farm.

Decision making


Growing passion fruit step by step

Passion fruit is a perennial plant that allows farmers to enjoy yields for longer periods often exceeding three years depending on management. As with most other fruits, you can intercrop passion fruit with vegetables such as leeks, onions, beetroots, spinach, strawberries and any other crop that does not share pest and diseases with the passions. Popular cultivars include purple passion fruit and yellow passion fruit. The purple passion fruit (Passiflora edulis f. edulis) Suitable for areas with an altitude of 1100 to 2500m above sea level. The fruit has an aromatic flavor with a diameter of 4-5 cm.

Yellow passion fruit is suitable for low altitudes such as coastal lowlands. It’s more hardy and vigorous as compared to the purple passion. The fruit is bigger with a diameter of 5-7 cm, relatively acidic and used for juice extraction. Of course, it’s also yellow, ha. More fundamentally, yellow passion fruit is used as a rootstalk to purple passion fruit since it’s resistant to most diseases affecting the passion fruits such as Phytophthora blight, Fusarium, wilt, brown spot, and nematodes. Yellow form – Brazilian golden, golden giant.

Soil Preparation and Planting

If you have already plowed and harrowed your soil to a fine texture. We are again assuming that you have a very clear plan of your yard depending on the size of your land. Next you need to sterilize the soil since passion fruits are very sensitive to nematodes (the more you need grafted seedlings) and other disease-causing agents such as Fusarium sp. There are several ways for you to choose from when it comes to soil sterilization 1.

  • You can use fumigation method and
  • Solarisation

Of course, there are many more other ways. Please feel free to use them. In this case, I am going to focus on one that is cheap, economical and efficient – Solarisation How to sterilize the soil using solarisation method ●

  • Wet the ground that you intend to grow the passions into – this ensures that the heat reaches lower horizons
  • Cover the soil entirely with a polythene paper
  • Leave it there for at least a week

Assumption: You have at least five to seven hours of sunshine a day. After this period elapses, remove the polythene and inoculate the area with the beneficial microorganism. The popular brand is the EM.1 found on amazon and shipped anywhere for free by Amazon.com. This is because solarisation kills all micro-organism (both harmful and beneficial ones).

Your soil is now safe for growing passion fruits. The best way to get good results is by growing your purple passion fruit from grafted seedlings. Yellow passion fruits serve as rootstalk. Plant the seedlings at a reasonable depth and recommended spacing for your area. While doing this, ensure that the graft union is not covered by the soil to avoid rotting. Remember to water the newly planted seedlings before you call it a day.

Crop management

After 1-2 weeks, it is expected that the seedlings have acclimatized to their new environment, and therefore, you should start seeing some remarkable changes in growth. This only marks the beginning of more work to come. And yes, it’s general crop management. Growing passion fruits require some necessities; for example, feeding, and crop protection. The most important management practices will entail;

  • Water application in the right proportions (Avoid under-watering or over-watering).
  • Application of necessary nutrients in the form of fertilizers and foliar sprays (Always conduct periodical soil analysis to determine which nutrient elements needs supplementing). – Too much or too little nutrients might injure your plants.
  • Periodical soil conditioning, for example, addition of compost and organic materials
  • Weeding – or mulching with a polythene that suppresses weeds
  • Frequent monitoring of the crop for pest and diseases and taking the necessary precautions (Use a holistic approach or Integrated Pest Management strategies to combat pest and diseases).

It is also worth noting that in case you must spray, use only recommended pesticides and observe Minimum Residue Levels (MRLs). Support and training If you’ve done all your homework up to this point, your young plants should be growing more and more vigorously. You’ll realize this when you see dense foliage and emergence of tendrils. (Tendrils are rope-like structures used by passion vines to support themselves against other objects).


Purple Passion Fruit Tendrils are an indication that your plants need support. You can support your passion fruit seedlings by erecting poles and some strong ropes or wires. Personally, I’d go for meshed wires – they do an excellent job! Once you’ve put the support structure in place, it’s time to guide the growth of those plants along the support. In a nutshell, guiding your passion seedlings to grow in the desired way is what we call training. We don’t want the fruits lying on the ground.

Maturity and Harvesting

For most beginners, this is where the dilemma starts. How do you tell when your passion fruits have matured? How do you know when to start harvesting? You don’t have to know! Unlike other fruits that need an understanding of maturity indices, passion fruits are different. Once they attain a proper physiological maturity, they detach from the mother plant and falls on the ground. Now, all you must do is get a crate and pick them one by one. This can be done twice a day depending on their volume. Just make sure you don’t leave them too long on the ground.

Packing and packaging

How do you present your precious produce to your consumer? The answer to this question will differentiate you from your competition. Think deeply about your brand and communicate it through your packaging. You’ve worked so hard to feed the world don’t lose the opportunity to reap big by failing to pay attention to your presentation.