At Decapo Farm, a dairy unit in Kambiti, Kiambu County, David Njuguna watches as the milkman adjusts teat cups of an automatic milking machine on one of the cows.
It is midday and it is the second time for ‘Mercy’ to be milked. She will be milked again in the evening. There are 15 dairy cows at Decapo and each is monitored closely during milking.
Every time the milk is measured, Njuguna keys in the figures in his smartphone. That is why he moves from cow to cow, with a mobile phone in his hand, to record the quantity of milk each cow produces.
For close to a year, Njuguna has been relying on DigiCow, a mobile App that enables him to make daily records of the produce at the farm and access important information concerning the day-to-day running of the farm.
He admits to having seen a significant increase in production ever since he started using the App.
“Before, I wasn’t able to analyse production trends of each cow but today, I get real-time information concerning the behaviour of every cow, including the amount of milk each cow produces,” Njuguna says. He says the App provides analysed information on every cow, and alerts him when a particular cow’s milk quantity drops, making him make well informed decisions. Such decisions, he says, include whether or not to change the type of feed and when to increase the amount of feed and water.
According to Njuguna, the App has seen Mercy increase production from 16 litres in a day to 28 litres of milk.
He registered for the App in April last year when staff from DigiCow visited his farm and convinced him to embrace it.
“I had tried keeping manual records but along the way, things got jumbled up. It isn’t easy to analyse information on cows because it also involves drawing graphs. And so when the owner of the app told me it was free, I thought it was worth the try,” Njuguna says.
Peninah Wanja, the DigiCow CEO and founder is a university graduate who says she sought to fill the knowledge gap among dairy farmers. But what does it take to use the App? Wanja says all the farmer needs to do is download the App from a Google PlayStore. When the App is installed in the phone, the farmer registers as a member of DigiCow by filling in his name and mobile phone number.
On its end, DigiCow verifies the authenticity of the phone number provided. When all is clear, the farmer is sent an activation code which they input in their downloaded App and proceeds to create a secret PIN.
The farmer also provides important details such as the name of the cow, its calf, the co-operative they deal with and their customers. If necessary, the farmer also provides details of the farmhands at the farm.