Kenyan dairy industry is a smallholder activity in terms of both milk production and volume of sales. The challenge, however, is how to sustain it amid myriad of constraints. The current study was carried out in Bahati division of Nakuru District over a period of 3 years. The objective was to quantify performance of dairy cows on smallholder farms. Out of the 120 smallholder households interviewed during the preceding feed survey, 60 of them were selected to participate in the trial. They were all trained on data collection. Dam weights and milk yields were monitored on monthly and daily basis respectively over 2 to 3 consecutive lactations. The collected data was stratified according to zero, semi-zero and free grazing systems and stored in MS Excel. SAS (ANOVA and proc. GLM) models were used to compare the differences between systems. Scatter plots were developed using Lotus. The study revealed that, of the many constraints facing smallholders, lack of sufficient land for forage production, is the most critical. Majority of farmers owned between 0.5 to 5 acres out of which over 80% was committed to food crop production. Established acreage of Napier grass, which is the most popular fodder crop among smallholder resource-poor farm was low (ranged: 0.125 to 0.5 acres). This was further complicated by farmers` inability to conserve feeds (silage or hay). Consequently dairy cows` performance was observed to be low across the 3 production systems. Body weights and milk yields showed a wide variation both within and between systems. Dairy cows in zero grazing systems recorded higher body weights (480±75; range: 345-601 kg) compared to those in free (338±39; range: 275-410) and semi-zero (397±59; range: 280-490 kg) grazing systems respectively (P< 0.0001; r2 = 59%). A similar trend was observed with milk yield (free: 5-12; semi-zero: 6-16 and zero grazing system: 8-24 kg/cow/d) (P< 0.0001). Cases of dairy stock morbidity and mortality due to diseases (tickborne, worms) exacerbated by malnutrition were also recorded. It was therefore concluded that, since little can be done on land scarcity, building farmers capacity on feed production, conservation and utilization would be the way forward. Development of suitable fodder crops, cost effective methods of feed production and ration formulation is therefore critical.
T.P. Lanyasunya, Wang , H. Rong , E.A. Mukisira and S.A. Abdulrazak , 2006. Performance of Dairy Cows in Different Livestock
Production Systems on Smallholder Farms in Bahati Division, Nakuru District,
Kenya. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition, 5: 130-134.