Nutrition and performance of dairy cows in coastal lowland Kenya in relation to utilization of local feed resources
The utilization of Pennisetum purpureum (Napier grass var Bana) based diets and the lactation performance of dairy cows in coastal lowland Kenya was studied in a series of five experiments. In experiments 1 and 2, the effects of 300g/day additional crude protein from locally available fishmeal, copra cake and Leucaena were compared using Jersey cows fed ad libitum Napier grass. Experiment 1 carried out in early lactation, showed that supplements (fishmeal or copra cake) could increase dry matter DM intake, reduce live-weight loss and increase (P< 0.05) milk output (7.8 v 6.4kg/day) with no differences between the supplements. Experiment 2 was carried out in mid lactation. Cows fed supplements (a mixture of copra cake/maize bran or Leucaena) consumed more (P< 0.01) DM with no effect on Napier grass intake and produced more (P< 0.05) milk no difference between supplements. No significant changes in live weight were observed. Ayrshire/Brown Swiss x Sahiwal cattle were used in experiments 3 to 5. In experiment 3, the effects of Napier grassharvesting height (1.0 v 1.5m) and level of Leucaena (0,4 and 8kgFW) were evaluated in early lactation. Feeding Napier grass harvested at 1.0m compared with 1.5m increased (P&60 0.01) Napier grass intake (9.3 v 6.8kg/day), reduced live-weight losses (0.16 v 0.49kg/day) and increased milk yield (8.6 v 6.9kg/day). Feeding Leucaena (0, 4 and 8kgFW; DM280g/kg) significantly (P< 0.01) increased total DM intake (7.8, 9.3 and 10.4kg/day), reduced live-weight loss (0.53, 0.23 and 0.17kg/day) and increased milk yield (7.3, 7.7 and 8.3kg/day).