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Title: Evaluation of dairy cattle rearing practices and feeding management strategies in selected commercial dairy farms in Nakuru district, Kenya
Author: Issak, Ibrahim Haji
ISNI:       0000 0004 2674 557X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2008
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The objectives of this study in the Nakuru District of the Kenyan Highlands, the major milk sources for the Nairobi milk market, were to evaluate current dairy cattle rearing and feeding practices, and suggest efficient feeding management strategies on large and small-scale commercial dairy farms. 139 small-scale farms with 738 dairy cows were surveyed and 6 large-scale dairy farms with 4379 dairy cattle. On the small farms, high mortality rates, cost of AI, and disease were the major causes of poor reproduction leading to a lack of replacement stock. Feeding systems used were: 24% free grazing system, 33% semi-zero grazing, 40% zero grazing, and 3% rotational grazing, but limited feeds were available – crops and feed crop residues, cut grass on the roadside, neighbouring farms with some purchased hay and straws in the dry season. After weaning, feed supplements were rarely given to calves, priority being given to milking cows, explaining the few replacement stock kept and their high mortality. The six large scale farms were from 200 to 3500 acres with milk production, cereal crops, fodder crops, the scale of replacement dairy stock and hay to other dairy farms the main activities with land allocated 65% to livestock, 20% to cash crops (Barley and Wheat), 10% to fodder crops and 5% to other land-uses. Replacement heifers for sale were insufficient to meet demands from small-scale farms. Grazing systems were mainly extensive with supplements fed at milking.  All the farms depended on planted forage grasses, mainly: Rhodes grass, Star grass, Sudan grass and Kikuyu grass. Calf mortality rate (10-18 %) was high caused mostly by respiratory diseases and East Coast Fever. Extended age at first calving (>31.8 ± 4.5 months), long calving intervals (> 406 days) and low average milk yields (6.81/day ± 3.9) for all breeds, occurred. Production and reproductive performances needs to be addressed by proper nutrition. Suitable pasture grasses, legumes and fodder crops not currently being used have been identified as potential options to complement the existing pasture. Among these are: Guinea grass (panicum maximum), Cynodon dactylon, Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), Naivasha star grass (Cynodon plectostachyus) and Rhodesian star grass (Setaria sphacelata). Other studies examining supplementation of animals on low quality pastures with the above feeds resulted in increased body weights and milk yields. The greatest potential seems to be supplementing with home-grown proteinaceous feedstuffs such as Leucaena leucocephala, Calliandra, Sesbania or food crop residues like groundnut, cassava, sweet potato vines or pigeon-pea leaves and stems. Farmers could increase their pasture land productivity by establishing fodder grass, fodder shrubs and food crops as intercropping, hedgerows and along contour bands.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Dairy cattle - Feeding and feeds