What you need to know:
- Nyaga, 33, keeps 13 Friesian cows on 15 acres, one that he owns and the rest he leases for fodder growing, in Mwireri village, Olkalou Constituency, Nyandarua County.
- For every lactating cow, they add a ration of high yield dairy meal, where by for every 7kg of milk produced per day, they feed 1kg of dairy meal.
- To ensure adequate feeds throughout the year, he has planted a variety of feeds for his animals on 15 acres of the leased land, and only buys dairy meal to supplement the fodder.
- He advises that those who want to venture into dairy farming should first ensure that they have enough feeds that can last for a year.
Dressed in a black trouser, a red shirt and matching shoes, Muchina Nyaga struts his zero-grazing unit checking on how his cows are faring.
He stands at an empty shed, bends and lifts a cow mattress to check beneath. Thereafter, he asks one of his workers to remove the mattress, clean it and air in the sun.
Nyaga, 33, keeps 13 Friesian cows on 15 acres, one that he owns and the rest he leases for fodder growing, in Mwireri village, Olkalou Constituency, Nyandarua County.
Of the animals, six are lactating cows, one is in-calf, three are calves and three are heifers.
He gets an average of 240 litres of milk per day from his cows, a feat he attributes to good farming practices.
An RnB tune can be heard playing in the sheds where the lactating cows are.
“We play music from 10am to 4pm. We prefer Soul and RnB music because it encourages the animals to rest. We have trained them that whenever the music is on, they understand it’s time to rest thus the animals are able to chew cud, which is one of the processes in milk production,” he explains.
Each of cows also has a mattress to ensure they are comfortable.
“A cow that sleeps on the floor cannot produce the desired amount of milk,” explains Nyaga, an economics graduate of Mt Kenya University.
When it comes to feeding, he says he offers the cows feeds twice a day, at 7am and 5pm.
“We offer the cows 15kg of silage made of oat and maize germ. In the evening we feed them with a mixture of 10kg of silage and 5kg of hay and sometimes we alternate hay made of oat with that made of lucerne,” he explains.
For every lactating cow, they add a ration of high yield dairy meal, where by for every 7kg of milk produced per day, they feed 1kg of dairy meal.
PASSION IN DAIRY FARMING
Nyaga says he went into dairy farming immediately after high school in 2002 after inheriting two cows from his father, who gave him the animals after seeing his passion in the venture.
“The animals increased to seven over the years but would only produce less than 40 litres per day in total despite eating more. I would buy for them dairy meals, napier grass and other feeds, but get little in return.”
In 2012, eager to turn around everything, Nyaga was part of a group that visited a model farm in Kiambu County organised by Olkalou Dairy where he delivers his milk at Sh31 a litre.
“The farmer was getting 40 litres of milk per cow, and his costs were lower and manageable and the venture profitable.”
Having picked tips, Nyaga says he sold all his seven cows and bought two pedigree animals producing 35 litres of milk per day at Sh150,000.
“After the about three months from the sale of milk from the two cows, I was able to buy the third one as I practised the tips I had picked. Later after being able to supply my co-operative with 100kg of milk, they gave me a loan of Sh700,000 on which I added Sh500,000 from my savings to buy four cows and better the business,” says Nyaga, who is the personal assistant to Olkalou MP David Kiaraho and employs three workers.
To ensure adequate feeds throughout the year, he has planted a variety of feeds for his animals on 15 acres of the leased land, and only buys dairy meal to supplement the fodder.
“I have planted lucerne on an acre, which has high protein required for milk production, three acres of oat which we dry to make hay that is good in fibre, and 10 acres is under maize which we preserve in form of silage,” he says, adding from the 15 acres, they can preserve food which can last for a whole year.
His animals are milked three times a day, and on any given month, his venture brings about Sh200,000. Other cash comes from farm visits, where he charges Sh250 per person.
He advises that those who want to venture into dairy farming should first ensure that they have enough feeds that can last for a year.
To further maximise on his returns, Nyaga has teamed up with 15 other dairy farmers to set up a mini-dairy plant.
They are in the process of importing milk processing machines after securing funding for the dairy plant with a 2,500 litres processing capacity per day.
Godard Rufuata, a veterinary officer from Olkalou, notes that to begin a dairy enterprise, one needs to start with storing feeds that can last animals for at least three months.
“Second, having good quality animals is important. You need to keep an animal that produces atleast 20kg of milk per day. Keep records, maintain hygiene and feed your animals well.”
Tv also good
- Another way of ensuring your cows do not get bored is the introduction of television.
- Pictures give the cows a unique form of entertainment such that when they now turn to listen to music during milking, they have relaxed their bodies and minds.
- Through television, they can also watch movies. The best movies should be customised to contain things like a cow giving much milk that it pours out of the bucket, calves suckling, milk being transported to factories and milk equipment that they are used to seeing.