Starting a dairy farm especially in Kenya is no easy task. A new dairy farm needs a lot of planning and capital! Planning, however, is the big word here! You cannot wake up one morning, check your bank account, buy stuff and start a dairy farm. Starting a dairy farm needs more than money…it needs planning and clear goals of where you are going and what you need to achieve. If you add a bit of passion to the mix and you are destined for success.
We are going to focus on two important factors which are the main determinants to milk production; Breed selection and Feeding. Other honourable productivity mentions include; Health, reproduction and housing. If you get these steps right, then you are on the right track to success.
Look for a good breed
You are starting a dairy farm to get milk and make money right? Yes! Knowing the right breed to buy is a priority because it will determine how much milk you get daily (This is assuming you will manage your farm well – and in manage, I mean feeding your cows right and making sure they don’t get sick).
These are some of the main breeds found in Kenya;
- Fresian: The Fresian has a milk yield between 25–30 litres per day.
- Jersey: The Jersey breed has a milk yield between 15–20 litres per day.
- Ayrshire: The Ayrshire has a milk yield of 20 litres per day.
- Guernsey: The Guernsey cow can give you up to 25 litres per day.
- Fleckvieh: The Fleckvieh breed is a multi-purpose, meaning it can be used for milk and meat. It produces between 18-20 litres per day.
Follow the right breeding programs to ensure your cow gives birth every year. It’s a huge blessing when your cow gives birth every year. It’s a big deal. It ensures you have a constant flow of milk and new cows to replace the old ones.
Always use artificial insemination (AI) to breed your dairy cows. AI gives you imported, superior, disease-free bull semen that will improve your herd.
It is cheaper to buy local breeds and use AI to perfect them over the years. It is time-consuming but it will save you a lot of money as a beginner farmer.
Click here if you would like to know how to choose a good dairy cow
Cows are simple creatures. Give them food and they will give you milk. Give them enough good and nutritious food and they will give you a lot of milk. Food and water should readily be available to your dairy cows. They should never know hunger. They should learn about hunger from the news (For those who like to play music and TV to cows :D).
Cow forage is divided into two groups; Dry and wet. This group constitute 50% of its daily feed. An example of dry feed is hay. An example of wet feed is silage. You can feed dry and wet forage together or separately. It depends on the farmer.
The other half (50%) of feed is comprised of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The concentrates are mixed together at a feed mill where they can then be fed to the dairy cows. Minerals help in boosting milk and general body conditioning. You can find minerals in your local agro-vet store. Mix the minerals with the feed.
Protein sources are maize meal, cottonseed cake, sunflower cake, fish meal etc.
- Grow your feed and harvest your feed before buying the cow.
- Write down a business plan so that you can have your facts straight.
- Vaccinate your cows and perform regular health checks.
Focus on these two things and you are destined to succeed.