The success of a dairy enterprise depends on many factors, one of them being sufficient and quality feeds for the animals. Kisii Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) has invested heavily in cattle feeds.
At the centre that serves as a training ground for farmers, they grow improved varieties of Napiergrass, fodder legumes like green leaf desmodium, brachiaria grass and mulberry among others.
Doris Ombuna, the principal, says the various types of fodder legumes are a source of protein for the animals, while Napiergrass provides carbohydrates, and green leaves provide animals with vitamins.
Ms Ombuna says the centre that sits on 72 acres has set aside a sizable chunk of the land for growing animal feeds to meet the nutritional needs of the 43 Ayrshire dairy cows that they keep.
“The fodder in our farms is mixed with Napiergrass and used to make hay, which is put in a bailing box then fed to our cattle. The surplus is sold to farmers at a subsidised prices,” Mrs Ombuna says.
Like humans, Ombuna says dairy cows need to get proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins to produce large volumes of milk and to be healthy.
At the centre, farmers are also taught biosecurity measures to keep animals free of diseases.
For them being experts in animal production, Mrs Ombuna says their dairy cows rarely fall sick.
Here, hygiene standards are high to keep diseases at bay. Things like footbaths with disinfectants at all entrances are common place for visitors to dip their feet when making entry into the dairy units.
Currently, they milk 17 cows, with each producing between 17 litres and 20 litres of milk per day, which is consumed by visitors at the facility and the surplus sold to neighbouring institutions.
Caroline Anyango, a livestock officer at the institution, says they receive at least 500 farmers from Kisii, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Migori and Narok counties every week.
The centre is encouraging dairy farmers from the South Nyanza to embrace a balanced diet for their livestock instead of focusing on the traditional diets that include grass, salt and water.
“We realised eight years ago that dairy animals that are well fed have good milk production performance levels besides being healthy,” said Ms Anyango.