Bles Dairies’ consultancy discipline, The Friesian, outsourced Wytze Heida to the Netherlands Development Organisation SNV in order to lead their Kenyan Market-led Dairy Program (KMDP) in North Rift, Kenya. A successful program whereby Wytze provides management support to a large number of dairy farms with herds ranging from 20-600 milking cows. Wytze keeps us informed about the developments in this project.
The past period the main focus was on record keeping, pasture management and calf rearing.
Wytze and the Kenyan student Matt Agesa showed different dairy farmers the importance of record keeping. This resulted in keeping production records by lots of dairy farmers and the introduction of cow cards. The cow card process is in most cases ongoing due to finding the lineage of the animals.
Implementing pasture management and grazing principles are essential because these will increase forage yield and quality. The visited farms mostly depend on natural grazing of animals under natural unimproved pasture. The farms also have some acres of rhode grass and napier grass. They have maize that will be harvested for silage in September.
Feeding of fresh fodder and night feeding was implemented at two farms, which has led to an increase in milk productivity of 1 to 2 litres per head within a week. This trend is still peaking, which is an excellent result!
Concerning calf rearing and management, Matt observed diverse issues. He notices that records on growth of calves are absent, for which he introduced calf cards and 2 weeks measurements of calf weight. He also introduced monitoring of calves up to 6 months in the weaners unit to control the problem of poor growth rate of calves after weaning. This problem is also found on another farm. Due to poor development of rumen, problems are experienced after weaning. Matt introduced a 12 weeks weaning schedule and good heifer management practice.
In general the farmers are enthusiastic and willing to learn the new methods of dairy so as to increase the production at the lowest cost. Matt was impressed with the rate of adoption of the passed good dairy practices.
Thanks Wytze and Matt and keep the good work going!