Decision making

COMPARISON BETWEEN HAYLAGE AND SILAGE, WHICH IS BEST FOR DAIRY FEEDING.

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:

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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.

Disadvantages

• 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.

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Dairy practice

MOST EFFECTIVE PRACTICES FOR PROFITABLE ZERO-GRAZING ENTERPRISE

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

Zero-grazing
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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.

Feeding

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.

Mobile Milking machines

DAILY CHECKS, MAINTENANCE AND ALL ABOUT MILKING MACHINE

More farms are adopting milking machines due to for health and hygiene reasons.

Good milking techniques require that the cow remains comfortable and relaxed. This is a plus that farms who use milking machines have over hand-milking.

The effectiveness of a milking machine lies in its efficient functioning, cleaning and correct application and removal.

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CHECKING COMPONENTS

Proper management of milking machines requires that all the parts are understood well. Routine maintenance or cleaning of mechanical parts and rubber components form the basis of their being effective.

This calls for constant examination of the machine. Daily checks require that the air vents are inspected for blockages. Blocked vents eventually lead to slow or incomplete milking and makes the removal of clusters difficult. Carefully remove dirt but avoid using equipment that may enlarge teat holes.

The milk vacuum must be checked and listened to ensure all pulsators have regular and intermittent sounds. The milk entering the enclosed receiving churn should flow evenly.

The cow’s behaviour must be checked. Does she feel nervous or comfortable when teat cups are applied or removed? Try to feel for any swellings at the top, middle or end of the teats.

Search for cracking or sores made on the teat canals by the machine. Also check for completeness of the milking. Weekly checks mainly lie on examining the filters, pulsator airlines and liners.

Check for mouthpiece cracks, splits or distortion.

Additional regular checks require monitoring the teat cup slips from teats regardless of the udder conformation. More teat cup slips means incorrect mounting. Note the average time of milking; a milking machines adjusted correctly takes seven minutes, but this may vary depending on the amount of milk a cow produces.

A routine maintenance demands that teat cup liners be changed after every four to six months as recommended by manufactures. Since liners are the parts of the machine that get into direct contact with the cow during flexing and squeezing of the teat, they lose tension, absorb milk fat and hold bacteria with time.

The tension lost with time is sufficient enough to cause incomplete milking, expose the cow to increased teat end damage and spread bacteria.

EQUIPMENT CLEANING AND SANITISING

Cleaning ensures milk residue and dirt are removed from the equipment while sanitising removes bacteria from already cleaned surfaces. Both practices minimise bacterial contamination and spread in the machines. To clean, first detach the parts then remove all loose dirt and rinse the machine with warm water.

Follow by hot cleaning using a detergent to clear surface deposits, then rinse with cold water. Finally, apply a sanitiser, especially to surfaces that come into contact with the cow and allow to dry under shade with sufficient flow of air.

APPLICATION AND REMOVAL

First, clean and dry the teats of the cow before attaching any part of the machine. Dirty and wet teats increase the risk of mastitis infection and contaminate milk with bacteria. Then just before you mount the teat cups, check for mastitis.

Gently squeeze each teat for the first milk squirts and check against a strip cup for clots or abnormal milk colour. Ideally, teat disinfection before attaching the milking machine can be done to help reduce mastitis.

When the teats appear filled with milk, gently mount the teat cups. This appearance results from stimulation of milk let-down effect and is the best time to fix the machine. During milking, monitor for any air leakage through the teat cups.

Adjust the cups to hang over the claw correctly to arrest leakages. Less flow of milk into the collection churn is an indication of milk let-down coming to an end. At this time, cut the vacuum to the cluster to release the teat cup. Pulling off without cutting the vacuum is not advised as it encourages the damage of teats.

After completely detaching the machine from the animal, follow by hand-milking to ensure milking is completely done.

To conclude, be warned that cleaning these machines may not be easy and careless detaching of parts may cause damage. If not sure, always contact where you sourced the machine for help in maintenance and cleaning services.

With machines, there is little milk spillage, no environmental contamination and guaranteed cleanliness provided the equipment is thoroughly cleaned.

There is also less or no damage on teats. Sometimes use of hand milking can be painful depending on the milk man.

Long nails also cause cuts on teats. Milking machines make the cows feel more confident, calm and relaxed for free milk let-down.

Milking machines make dairy farming easy and enjoyable.

Dairy practice

How to become a successful Goat Farmer

In order to be a successful goat farmer, there are basics you must consider or know before you start a goat farm. These include but not limited to the following:

Location: The most important consideration you must first make is location. Common goats generally survive in warm areas that are well drained. Apart from temperature, space is necessary. Goats live in groups, so individual pens are not effective. A large field is needed if you want your animals to roam freely. Freely roaming goats usually have better resistance to sickness and infection. The best locations for a goat farm are those that are far from towns because urban pollution is dangerous to animal health. Goats are known to eat a lot of grass on a daily basis. So make sure their food source is highly accessible and not too far from the rearing area.

Land requirement: Goats can be reared intensively on small acreage by using supplemental feed. If using an extensive system, 2 to 10 goats per acre is a rough guide depending on the supply of grass and brush. Goats are top down grazers and will select from weeds, leaves and grasses to meet their own requirements. They can also help to improve marginal areas encouraging re-establishment of grassy species so providing low-cost environmental management.

The type of goat breed: The type of goat breed is the next important thing to consider when you start keeping goats. Depending on your purpose, there are breeds that produce more milk while there are also those that grow quickly. You can farm both types of breeds and you will be harvesting both meat and milk. Different breeds also require different levels of care. Make your research and consult an expert so he can help you decide what will be best for your farm.

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Access to a veterinarian is another important thing to consider. When starting a goat farm, you expect many of your animals to contract diseases. A veterinarian can help you in disease control and management to avoid losses. Vets can also help you diagnose diseases or recommend vitamins and supplements to keep your animals in good health especially during stressful situations such as weaning.

Health: You must keep your goats healthy and strong. Build a big barn because goats live in groups. They must also be allowed to roam, run around and have fun. If the goats are bred well, they become rarely sick and they usually produce better milk and meat. Keeping them healthy by making them happy is not a hard task. Goats are very picky with food. They don’t eat dried or soiled grass. Make sure you have enough clean, fresh grass for them so they don’t go hungry.

Housing: With a well-designed barn or shed and good management, you are sure to reap all the profit you want from goat farming.

Dairy practice

CARE AND MANAGEMENT OF DAIRY GOATS

The dairy goat’s popularity continues to increase rapidly as morepeople discover the dairy goat’s appeal, utility and productiveness. The female dairy goat is a doe; the male, a buck; the young, kids; and a castrated male, a wether. Their life span is eight to twelve years. Some of the basics to know about the care and management of dairy goats are:

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FEEDING

Dairy goats need a year-round supply of roughage, such as pasture, browse or well-cured hay. Winter browse and pastures should be supplemented with hay. Milking, breeding and growing stock need a daily portion of legume hay, such as alfalfa. Kids and bucks need a balanced grain ration and milkers should be fed a standard dairy grain ration. Kids are milk fed until two to three months of age, but should be consuming forages such as pasture grass or hay by two weeks of age and grain within four. All dairy goats must have salt and fresh clean water. Mineral supplements are desirable.
Dairy goats have fastidious eating habits and are particular about the cleanliness of their food. Their natural curiosity may lead them to investigate newly found items by sniffing and nibbling, but they quickly refuse anything that is dirty or distasteful.

PASTURE
Dairy goats will graze grass pastures, but prefer to browse brushlands and a varied selection of pasture plants, including non-noxious weeds. Dairy goats seldom thrive when tethered. They may be kept in a dry lot if fed adequate roughage and allowed shade and space for exercise. Dairy goats are curious and agile and require well built fences for containment and protection from predators.
In temperate climates, one-half acre of land per milking goat should be plenty. Under arid conditions, people must guard against the danger of overgrazing. Overstocking in temperate climates is also bad for goats, since it increases reinfestation of internal parasites. Rotational pasturing is one of the successful controls.

HOUSING
Dairy goats are kept successfully in all climates. They do not need elaborate housing, but do require clean, dry, well ventilated, draft free shelter. Dirt pen floors are preferred over cement. At least 15 square feet of bedded area should be provided for each goat. The outside exercise lot should provide a minimum of 25 square feet of space per animal, well-drained and properly fenced. Dairy goats have a strong herd instinct and prefer the companionship of at least one other goat.
Bucks should be kept in separate quarters away from milking does.

MANAGEMENT
Ideally, goats should be dehorned when they are very young. It is advisable to wait until they are 1-2 weeks of age and in good flesh to be sure they are healthy and not coming down with neonatal diarrhea. If discolored skin is fixed to the skull in two rosettes, horn buds are present. Moveable skin indicates a naturally hornless condition.
Hooves should be trimmed frequently to assure proper development of the hoof.
To check the health of goats and determine suspected illness, it is useful to know their normal physiological values. Pulse is about 83 per minute ranging from 50 to 115. Respiration is around 29 per minute with a range from 15 to 50. Body temperature is about 103.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keeping good weight records is important for proper feeding and medication, besides good management. Tapes can be used for estimation of weight by measuring the heart girth behind the forelegs. There also exists normal growth curve to age-weight relationships. For large breed male goats, they are in average as follows: 1 month-25 lb., 3 months-55 lb., 6 months-85 lb., 9 months-110 lb., 12 months-130 lb., 18 months-155 lb., 24 months-170 lb., 36 months-205 lb. For smaller breeds and females, these standards are less, proportionate to the lesser adult body weight.