Dairy farming in coast region BY RENSON MLEGWA MNYAMWEZI / SMART HARVEST:
Jimson Kambale has always dreamt of being a dairy farmer, but the challenge was lack of finances.
To actualise his dream, he saved up while he was still employed. So impressive is his craft, in 2014 one of his cows emerged the overall winner at the annual Mombasa Agricultural show.
Thanks to his prowess in dairy keeping, his homestead is a beehive of activity as farmers across Taita-Taveta County come to benchmark.
“I train other farmers on all areas of dairy keeping from feeding to breeding and feed making, preservation and storage. I charge a small fee for these services,” he says.
The farmer learnt this skills after undertaking a training by Kenya Promotion Marketing Company (KPMC) on dairy keeping.
Though now established, his journey has been a learning curve. After quitting his job, he used his savings to buy a dairy cow at Sh. 22,000.
“I started with one cow, now I have five and they give plenty of milk. I sell milk and make biogas for lighting and cooking,” he says at his 1.5 acre farm in Kese village in Werugha, Taita Taveta County.
Currently his highest milk producer gives 42 litres of milk a day. Others average 28 litres.
The farmer sells his milk in Voi town at Sh. 40 per litre which gives him Sh. 2,800 a day and Sh. 84,000 per month.
In his homestead, Kambale stores about 1,500 bales of hay and chaff cutter machine. He buys a bale of hay at Sh. 200 at Kishushe and sells the same at between Sh. 350 to Sh. 400. One dairy cow requires six kilos of dry grass a day. In 2015, he improved the genetics of the cows and his milk production improved from 14 litres to 27 litres per day.
Ever the risk-taker, in 2016 he started keeping poultry to supplement the dairy project. He produces six trays of eggs every day which earns him about Sh. 100,000 per month.
Kambale keeps the cow sheds and dairy cattle clean to manage mastitis.
He uses a milk machine to ensure all the milk is drained from the udder.
At the same time, the dairy farmer uses qualified livestock extension officers tho vaccinate his animals. He uses a thermometer to measure the temperature of his animals and when he detects any problem, he calls a vet immediately.
To manage costs, the farmer grows his own napier grass on his 1.5 acre farm.
Further, Kambale has good working relationship with county and national government officers who he consults regularly to improve his milk yields.
He also uses quality semen to improve his breeds.
Every so often, he travels to Central and Rift Valley to benchmark on how to improve milk production. Mixing the ration of hay, napier and salt also enhances milk production.