Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Daniel Kanyoni: Why you should not feed your cows fresh Napier grass

Feeding is one of the important aspects of dairy farming as it largely affects the quality of milk produced by the animal.

Dairy cows require a balanced diet for milk production, body maintenance, and good health. The feed given to the cow must be digestible so that the nutrients can be absorbed in the body and should not contain toxic substances.

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Fodder crops like Napier grass are considered the most important feed in feeding dairy cattle as they provide energy for body maintenance, milk production, growth, weight gain, and reproduction.

However, to achieve the desired results, it’s important to choose the right Napier grass variety, as experts say ordinary Napier grass lacks sufficient protein and energy, resulting in reduced meat and milk production.

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While farmers can feed their cows with the grass direct from the farm or as silage, some experts say fresh Napier grass may not be ideal for optimum milk production.

Daniel Kanyoni, the CEO of Hazard Eden Farm, in Githunguri Kiambu County, highly discourages farmers from using fresh Napier grass as feed.

He notes that feeding fresh-cut Napier grass to cows exposes the animals to diarrhea leading to low milk production.

The farmer says that once the grass is harvested, it should be allowed to settle on the farm for 5-6 days before it is converted to feed for the animals.

”Don’t give the cows fresh cut Napier from the farm. Doing so you will be exposing your cows to diarrhea. Feed the cow when the Napier is dry not green and fresh, otherwise the cows will grow thin and unhealthy and they will not give you good production,’’ says Kanyoni.

Kanyoni also says that the grass should be allowed to mature well for enhanced feed production. He notes that a small batch of mature Napier grass can feed up to 10 cows.

The farmer owns hundreds of cows of various breeds that produce up to 45 litres of milk per day each.

Unlike most farmers, Kanyoni does not use silage but has instead adopted a system that emphasizes natural grazing and nutrient-rich diets, ensuring the health and vitality of his herd.

”I don’t use silage because I consider my customers who may not afford these feeds. If you sell a cow used to silage to a poor farmer, it might get back to your farm due to reduced production.”

”I normally feed the cattle nappier grass and hay,’’ he says, adding that most of his customers don’t like cows on silage.

Through these feeds, Kanyoni notes that he is able to get 12,000 litres of milk per month. He sells the milk locally to various companies, including Fresha, with the rest exported to other African countries, including Uganda and Tanzania.

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