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Milk processor rallies farmers to conserve animal feed amid climate change

Business
 A dairy farmer in Embu County. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Brookside Dairy has rolled out a plan to promote animal feed conservation for optimum milk volumes across all seasons.

The processor is rallying dairy farmers to prepare and conserve animal feed as a mitigation to challenges brought about by climate change.

Brookside, which partners with over 160,000 dairy farmers across the country, yesterday began awarding winners of a recent silage-making competition. Winners were picked from those who stored the largest tonnage of silage and of the highest quality.

“Animal feed is an integral part of milk production costs, thus when conserved and utilized at the right time the farmer benefits immensely through sustained production leading to reduced costs at the farm level. We will be working with both individual farmers and groups to raise the bar in terms of silage quality,” said Brookside General Manager in charge of milk procurement Emmanuel Kabaki in Sirikwa, Uasin Gishu county.

Last year, the processor organised a silage-making competition to increase the uptake of adoptable technology to conserve various forage species.

“Forage requirement in the country has been growing due to the vibrant nature of the local dairy sector.  However, there has been over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture, which is cyclic, with unreliable rains experienced year after year thus impacting milk production,” Mr Kabaki said.

Silage is a conserved fodder from preferred species of crops or grass that can be fed to cows during the dry season when pasture cover is reduced.

Forages like napier, maize and sorghum can be incorporated with other materials to improve quality during the preparation of animal feed.

Mr Kabaki challenged dairy farmers to invest in quality feed, saying it is key to having a healthy herd capable of producing milk all year round.

“The productivity of your livestock is only as good as what you feed them on. One of the most common problems that farmers face is lack of balanced nutrition, resulting in an unproductive herd,” he said. According to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro), smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya mainly depend on rain-fed forage, with feed being plenty during the rainy season and scarce during the dry season.

“Dairy productivity is therefore low in the dry season mainly due to inadequate and low-quality forage,” Kalro says in its training manual for silage making for smallholder farmers.

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