Dairy farming as a business has the potential to change your life in several ways. Firstly, it can provide a stable source of income for you and your family. As demand for dairy products continues to rise, there is a growing market for high-quality milk and dairy products. This means that with the right management, your dairy farm can provide a consistent and reliable source of income.
Moreover, dairy farming can also offer a sense of fulfillment and purpose. Working with animals and producing a vital source of food for the community can be a rewarding experience. Additionally, dairy farming can be a sustainable and environmentally friendly business if managed properly. This can contribute positively to your community and even the planet at large.
Lastly, dairy farming can be a family business that brings your loved ones together. It can provide an opportunity for you to work alongside your family members, pass on valuable skills and knowledge, and create a legacy that can be passed down to future generations.
In summary, dairy farming as a business can change your life in many positive ways, including financial stability, a sense of fulfillment, sustainability, and family bonding.
How To Get Started on Dairy Farming
Dairy farming in Kenya is a lucrative business opportunity that is attracting many people to venture into it. However, before investing your hard-earned cash, there are some crucial things that you need to consider. Here is a checklist of the most important things to think about:
Capital For Dairy Farming
Dairy farming is capital-intensive, and you need to determine how much money you need to invest in the business. Consider the source of your capital and how quickly you can access it. You will need to build structures for housing the animals and purchase equipment, and these expenses cannot be easily avoided. Develop a plan for the final farm setup, taking into account the expected running capacity.
Land For Dairy Farming
The size, location, and potential of your land will determine the type and size of investment you can set up. You need enough space to house the animals, grow fodder, and dispose of waste.
Market Research on Dairy Farming
Do a market survey and decide on your target buyers. Also, decide whether to focus on the milk or heifer market, or both. You should choose options that maximize your returns to ensure that your business is solvent.
Ecological Zone For Dairy FArming
The ecological location of your farm will determine the type of fodder and animals that do well in that area. Exotic dairy breeds require a cool environment, while crosses of these breeds with local ones like Sahiwal may withstand some level of harsh conditions. In arid and semi-arid regions, look for local breeds like Sahiwal or their first cross with exotic breeds.
Production System and Management
Choose a production system that fits the resources available and your level of management. Intensive production systems are best for efficient utilization of resources, where animals are enclosed, and the land is set aside for fodder production.
Regulations on Dairy Farming
Consider the rules and regulations that govern the establishment of a dairy investment. Think of waste disposal mechanisms and environmental pollution, especially on waterways, sound, and air.
Management and costing of labor remain a mystery to many farmers. Consider the type of work and the form of labor required. Have permanent employees for duties that run across the year and casuals for seasonal work. Remember that some services are cheaper when outsourced. Proper choice of labor will increase your savings, relieving unnecessary stress.
Water is required for animals to drink, cleaning equipment, the dairy unit, and growing fodder. A dairy cow will drink between 40 to 80 liters of water per day.
Decide on the breed and grade of animals to start with, considering the level of management to be adapted. For beginners, consider starting with second or third dairy crosses rather than high-bred animals. Adapt a breeding program that will improve the next generation of animals.
Source of Breeding Stock
Select from the existing herd and upgrade with time. The rule of thumb when outsourcing breeding stock is “never buy animals from herds that are managed beyond your potential, such animals will always disappoint you.” Check the animal’s pedigree, production and health records, and the dam’s production record if any. At times you may require a professional to inspect the animal.
Feeds Production and Conservation
Feeding comprises the highest cost in confined herds and the cheapest in free grazed systems with little supplementation. Always adapt to economical and efficient feeding production and utilization programs. Reduce the cost of feeds by growing your own. If land is small, consider renting to grow fodder. Buy fodder at the harvesting season and put in place conservation measures like silage and hay making.
Feeding the Animals
Chop feeds to reduce wastage and make it easy for the cow to handle. Soak feeds with molasses mixed with water overnight to make them soft. Soaking feeds with molasses mixed with water overnight is a common practice to make them soft and palatable for cows. This helps to improve the digestibility of the feeds, which in turn can increase milk production. However, it is important to avoid over-soaking, as this can lead to spoilage and a decrease in nutritional quality.
Benefits of Soaking Feeds with Molasses
Soaking feeds with molasses mixed with water overnight can provide several benefits for cows, including:
- Improved digestibility: Soaking feeds can break down the tough fibers and make them easier to digest. This can increase the absorption of nutrients and improve the cow’s overall health.
- Increased palatability: Soaking feeds can make them softer and more palatable, which can encourage cows to eat more and improve feed intake.
- Reduced wastage: Soaking feeds can reduce the amount of feed that is wasted, as it makes it easier for cows to handle and digest.
How to Soak Feeds with Molasses
To soak feeds with molasses, follow these steps:
- Mix one part molasses with three parts water in a large container.
- Add the feeds to the container and mix well.
- Cover the container and let it sit overnight.
- Drain the excess liquid before feeding the soaked feeds to the cows.
Tips for Avoiding Over-Soaking
Over-soaking feeds can lead to spoilage and a decrease in nutritional quality. To avoid this, follow these tips:
- Do not soak feeds for more than 24 hours.
- Use clean water and containers to avoid contamination.
- Do not add too much molasses, as this can make the feeds too sweet and lead to overconsumption.
- Keep an eye on the feeds during soaking to ensure they do not become too mushy or slimy.
Soaking feeds with molasses can provide several benefits for cows, including improved digestibility, increased palatability, and reduced wastage. By following the proper steps and avoiding over-soaking, you can ensure that your cows receive the maximum nutritional benefit from their feeds.