Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 273

Dairy Farming

Step-by-Step Guide

Learn How To Start A Profitable Dairy Farm In Kenya

So, you want to be a dairy farmer. Maybe you grew-up on the farm and are taking over
ownership from your parents or grandparents, maybe you have worked on a dairy and milked
cows for years, or maybe you’re a novice to dairy farming but think dairy farming seems like a
lifestyle for you. Whatever your background and experience, this ebook will provide you with
detailed information you need to know before starting your dairy farm.

If you have been following the market trends in Kenya and reading inspirational stories
like that of Douglas Kanja of Eden Farm and Nancy Karanja of Sanla Farm, you know that
dairy farming is the business to go into if you want a rather less rough way into the millionaire

Yes, it is a less rough way because the market is so big yet largely unsatisfied. It is only
recently that we saw fresh graduate like Wesley and Rose Ngeno, owners of Legut Dairy Farm,
going into dairy farming. Keeping cows for money has in the past been considered a thing for
retirees but look at what young people are now doing with it!

Cool, you now know that dairy farming in Kenya can give you the gate pass into the
millionaire club but what does it really take to start? Let’s take a look at what the successful
dairy farmers have done; it’s the best way to know how to start dairy farming in Kenya and be
successful at it.

Land is important but lack of it should not hinder you from starting. How?

I am sure that the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about farming is
land. Most people are discouraged from starting dairy farming because they do not have “enough
land”. But look at what Nancy Karanja is doing on Sanla Farm. On just half an acre of land,
where she lives and has three green houses, she is also keeping 20 dairy cows and getting over
500 litres of milk every day. Eden Farm, which earns the young Kanja more than Kshs.1 million
every month, occupies no more than just 2 acres. So you see, even if you have a 40X80 piece of
land, you can still do dairy farming.

So what must you have in order to start a successful dairy farming business?

On one of the interviews that Lelgut Farm owner Wesley Ngeno gave, he said, “Before
you buy those cows or even construct sheds for them, make sure you know where you will be
getting their feeds from. Otherwise you will cook ugali for your cows.” Funny but that’s it.
Without feeds, and good ones at that, you will fail. Figure out where to get quality feeds and you
are good to go. Douglas Kanja actually makes the feeds for himself at the farm. It can be quite
expensive to buy dairy feeds so you should consider making them for yourself. It’s nothing like
rocket science! I will teach you how to make your own feeds in this ebook.

Is that all?
Well, you seriously want to follow Kanja’s advice on how to start dairy farming in
Kenya. Before rolling out anything, the young man took a good time to carry out a feasibility
study. He visited KARI at Naivasha, got referred to some 24 farms and ended up visiting 64
dairy farms in different parts of Kenya.

Nice preparation huh? And that is one stage you don’t want to overlook unless you don’t
mind being a failure. Wesley and Rose also tell us that they had to do some extensive
information-seeking; contacting vets, going for agricultural shows and reading lots of materials
on milk production. So this is the key to starting a successful dairy farm in Kenya:

Get as much information about dairy farming as you can before rolling out. And that
information you are seeking about dairy farming, will be found in this ebook. So, read carefully
this ebook as this will be a straight to to the bone talk.

Written By : Timothy Angwenyi Morebu (0714723004)

Agribusiness Writer

Copyright © 2016 by Timohbright.

All rights reserved.

First Edition: August 2016

Profitable Farming Guide Series

This guide is geared towards providing exact and reliable information in regards to the
topic and issue covered. In no way is it legal to reproduce, duplicate, or transmit any part of this
document in either electronic means or in printed format. Recording of this publication is strictly
prohibited and any storage of this document is not allowed unless with written permission from
the writer. All rights reserved.

About The Writer

Hello! My name is Timothy Angwenyi Morebu. My

phone number is 0714723004. My email also is
timohangwenyi@gmail.com. I am a Agribusiness writer, Agri-
tourist & an Entrepreneur. Am currently writing guides on
various ways of earning a living in Kenya through Profitable
Farming (Entrepreneurship), whereby i educate Kenyans on
business ideas to venture in Agriculture sector.

Helping people start Agribusinesses and achieve the

income they desire has become a huge part of my life. Being
able to share the knowledge I have gained through visiting
people's farms and attending Agriculture seminars and exhibitions has become extremely
important to me.

I consider my readers my friends. I am always so appreciative that they take their time
out to read my eBook guides and to learn about Agribusiness ideas from me. Once you have
finished reading this guide, I have no doubt that you will have learned a great deal about starting
and running a profitable Dairy Farm in Kenya.

Copyright © 2016 Timohbright

Table of Content

Chapter 1: Requisites of A Successful Dairy Farmer Pg. 9

Chapter 2: Dairy Farming Business Plan Pg. 28

Chapter 3: Capital Requirement Calculation Pg. 53

Chapter 4: Choosing a Location of the Dairy Farm Pg. 62

Chapter 5: Equipment Needed for your Dairy Farm Pg. 64

Chapter 6: Selecting the best Dairy Cow Breeds Pg. 69

Chapter 7: Construction of Dairy Cow shed Pg. 91

Chapter 8: Dairy Cow Nutrition & Feeding Pg. 124

Chapter 9: Reproduction & Calf Management Pg. 159

Chapter 10: Health & Diseases Control Pg. 191

Chapter 11: Dairy Farm Management, Practices & Farm Record Keeping Pg. 213

Chapter 12: Marketing Farm Dairy Products Pg. 233

Chapter 13: Dairy Farming Success Stories In Kenya Pg. 252

Conclusion Pg. 270

Chapter 1

Requisites of A Successful
Dairy Farmer

Have you always wondered why dairy farming has become popular in the country? Do
you love dairy animals but your work schedule, lack of land and little know how has kept your
dreams grounded? Then you will want to read this chapter.

The intensive systems are the most predominant and comprise zero-grazing and semi-zero
grazing systems.

Did you know you can earn up-to Ksh. 40,500 per month from 3 dairy cows? Kenya has
been identified as the highest performer in Africa when it comes to dairy farming. Breeds that are
used in Kenya are high breeders which yield milk between 30 – 50 Litres of milk per day with
good management. One cow can produce an average milk yield of 30 Litres per day which is
approximately 270 litres of milk from one cow per month.

Monthly Financial Income

Currently milk goes for Ksh.30 per litre at brookside. This will give you a gross income of
3×30×30×30= Ksh 81,000 from 3 cows in one month. The cost of production is usually half the
amount of litres per cow. The net income per month will therefore be

81,000-40,500=Ksh 40,500

To be successful in Dairy farming largely depends on the farmers’ ability to select the
correct breeds of dairy animals for their various agro-ecological zones, correct feeding of the dairy
animals and good management on various aspects.

Note that, to start dairy farming you need to be patient and have the capital needed to
practice. i.e Capital to buy the cow itself, dairy feed, cow shelters and feeding troughs, veterinary
expenses and a source of water.

Very few dairy farmers can boast of getting 90 litres of milk per day from five cows. But
Grace Mumbi, 44, is doing just that. She started out with two dairy cows but now has five.

When we visited Mumbi at her home in Ngong, she was in mud boots tending to her
dairy cows. She has been practicing zero grazing for two years now and has never regretted her
decision despite discouragement from peers.
“I carried out research to find out whether dairy farming in Ngong was viable. I work in
Kinangop and most people discouraged me from starting a business if I would not be available to
supervise it,” she says.

She also practiced dairy farming in Kinangop but said the business thrived better in

She explained: “Demand for milk in Ngong is very high. I sell the fresh milk and
yoghurt, which I make at home, to my neighbours. A litre of milk will goes for Sh.60 and that of
yoghurt is double that.”

Her zero grazing dairy business is proof that indeed space is not an issue for anyone
looking to get into dairy farming. I noted that she is already expanding her barn for more dairy
cows in the future.

“The area that is holding the cows is slightly under 40x80. The remaining three quarter
acre that I have planted napier grass can actually hold another 72 cows and I intend to expand to
that point,” she said.

A Human Resource Manager by profession, Grace said her professional skills have come
in handy to keep her business afloat.

She explained: “I have learnt that one can do business even when they are away. The
trick is to motivate your employees. I have two employees who look after things when I am
away. They work with targets and keep records of income and expenditure. The cows make
enough money to feed themselves, pay the workers and expand the business. I only spent my
salary for the first six months but now the business is stable.”

She said her employees understand that if they meet their targets they will receive
bonuses. The opposite also applies; if one does not meet set targets then the salary and benefits

Grace is however not keeping knowledge about the business to herself. She has mentored
her workers to get into the business. She revealed most people she has worked with are young
and fresh from university.

“I like working with the youth because they like taking up challenges. Farming is not for
the old and that is why I want to mentor the youth and show them that one does not always need
an office job. These young people have businesses that are doing better than mine,” she said.

One of the challenges she faced while starting the business was financing. She said that
commercial banks are a bit sceptic when told the money is for dairy farming. She turned to the
government for help and was a great decision.

“My first loan was from Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC). I also turned to a
government body when it came to breeding my cows. I would encourage people to work with
government when they want to venture into agriculture because it gives the best. The
government carries out research and can tell why this seed is better than the next for example,”
she explained.

Getting feeds she said, was another challenge forcing her to resort to making her own. All
one needs to know are the correct ratios. We learnt that one should be very careful with what the
dairy cows are fed on.

“Cows are very sensitive, a slight change in their diet can lead to a drastic weight loss,”
she added.

Her sons have also taken up interest in what she does and she is in the process of
mentoring her first born who is currently at the university.

“I want him to mentor others like I have done. I plan to put up biogas plant big enough to
distribute power to my neighbours,” she concluded.

You don’t necessarily need to have love for animals especially cows before recognizing
their money-making capabilities.

With this agribusiness, you will be breeding cows for their milk and make quite a lot of
money from milking cows and selling them off to big dairy companies, or even sell the product
off as your own products if you can afford to buy the processing equipment.

If you are interested in learning the pros and cons of how to go about starting a successful
dairy farm business, then:

1. You need experience in this business

Bear in mind that you will be dealing with cows in this business and it is quite risky as
the cows can get aggressive without warning. So you need to be experienced in handling cows
and understanding their mood. In order to acquire such knowledge and experience in the
business, it is advisable that you work for a dairy farmer or visit a dairy farmer often to learn the
practical aspect of this business before you consider starting your own farm.

Many dairy farmers were brought up on dairy farming while some others inherited it
from their parents and branched out on their own. If you were not born into it but rather you just
want to give the business a trial, you will need to get your hands dirty and work on a farm before
starting yours.

This is because the only way you will know if you truly enjoy dairy farming is from
personally engaging yourself in it and secondly, the experience you gain while working as an
employee in a dairy farm will help you in building your own business.

It you can't learn the practical aspect by yourself, then i will advice you employ an
experienced employee. Someone who has worked in a dairy farm.

2. Start with the best breeds

To start on a positive note, you should begin with 2 to 5 of the best cow breeds you can
purchase. You can also reduce debt by renting land and buying used equipment; you can think of
upgrading your business technology later. Never begin with poor producing cows because if you
begin with poor-producing cows, you will always be struggling to rebuild your herd and you
might never be able to catch up.

3. Keep cost as low as possible

As a beginner, you have to try as much as possible to keep cost at its lowest minimum.
For example, you can make use of family labor. Talk to the people around you to help you work
the farm, if you can. This is because the fewer people on the payroll at first, the better. Try and
keep costs as low as possible.

4. Connect with other dairy farmers

Of course you know that you are not the only dairy farming business owner in the area. If
you are, then you have to go it all alone, but if you are not, then you have to connect with other
farmers. Locate other dairy farmers with whom you can swap tips, share ideas, share equipment
and grazing pastures.

5. Acquire more knowledge about dairy farming and the industry at large

In business, knowledge is power and the application of knowledge is tremendous power.

As a dairy farming entrepreneur, your cup must never be full. You must continually keep
learning how to improve your business efficiency, technological improvements and industry

You can also consider acquiring a little formal education on the business. Look for a
university with agriculture department because most universities with agriculture departments
have dairy specialists on their faculties. You can learn a lot from their research works.

Making Your Dairy Farm More Profitable

Dairying cannot become a profitable profession unless determined attention is paid to

milk and calf production. The dairy farmers suffer losses due to various causes such as deaths of
animal, infestation with worms, outdated husbandry practices, self-medication of sick animals,
unvaccinated stock and poor breeding.

A healthy livestock is fundamental to the welfare of a nation as it provides milk, meat,

hide, drought power and fuel. It produces stability to the agricultural-industrial economy.

The entire business of dairying rests on four pillars as follows:

❖ Feeding: In proportion to body requirements and production of animals.

❖ Breeding: Mating animals of desired characters and selecting male and female off-
❖ Weeding: Removing uneconomic, unhealthy and unwanted ones.
❖ Heeding: Day-to-day care and management.
❖ Exposure: Temperature, relative humidity and precipitation.


The dairy owner must not take it for granted that one of the most important parts of
dairying is sound feeding the animal. Cross Breeding for higher productivity coupled with more
and more understanding of feeding and management has put greater pressure on dairy animals.
Besides producing large quantities of milk, a dairy cow is supposed to carry her next calf
because “a calf a year” is an essential action plan for higher production and profit. The dairy
owner has a great choice for locally available feed and fodder, which need to be supplemented
with minerals, vitamins and trace elements.

Well-balanced ration plays an important role in improving the performance and health of
the dairy animal. It must be remembered that overfeeding is as harmful as underfeeding. Much
progress is being made in the field of animal nutrition.

The dairy farmer, besides making the best use of his experience and observation should
remain in close contact with the veterinarian who is in a better position to convey the latest on
the scientific feeding. The sound feeding of the dairy animal is not a simple matter. The feed and
fodder should be fibrous, scientifically balanced, economical and palatable.


The regular breeding and genital disease-free herd is cherished by a prospective dairy
farmer. The tool to improve livestock quality and production depends on artificial insemination
(AI) of local cows and buffaloes with the semen of the bulls of high genetic potential.

The AI as a means of milk and calf production is now accepted and utilized worldwide.
By this method, several thousands of females are inseminated artificially with semen collected
from bulls and maintained at semen collection centres. Since 5,000 to 10,000 doses of semen can
be processed from a single bull, it becomes imperative to ensure that bulls donating semen with
impaired fertilizing capacity are not used.

For this, regular evaluation of each and every bull is necessary. The evaluation requires a
gynecologist to conduct a physical examination, a bacteriologist to conduct disease tests and a
semenologist to evaluate semen. Unless the infertility in males and females are not dealt
properly, the AI system of breeding will not yield the desired results.

All dairy farmers should avail of the expertise of the county bacteriologist to get their
whole herd examined for brucellosis and other allied genital diseases known to cause infertility
and abortions in cows. When Semen is of good quality and female to be inseminated is free from
genital defects, the proficiency of inseminator matters. His ability, experience and technique play
a vital role in achieving cherished conception rate.


Nothing is more unfortunate than the occurrence of an outbreak of a contagious disease in

the herd of a dairy farmer. Besides spending a huge sum of money on buying medicines for the
treatment of sick animal, the farmer also has to suffer the loss of milk. Sometimes, he has to bear
the brunt of the deaths of costly animal. It should be a routine with dairy farmers to vaccinate
their animals against contagious diseases well in advance.

The prophylactic vaccines for most of the contagious diseases are freely available in the
agrovets. These vaccines are extra-fragile and as such due care is needed in procurement and
vaccination. The animals to be vaccinated should be free from worms for the optimum
production of antibodies against the disease. Protection against contagious diseases and parasites
(external and internal) will ensure health and efficiency of the dairy animals.

New health technologies can play effective role in the treatment of various diseases of
animals. At the village level, inadequate veterinary service is available to dairy farmers. Many
vets, especially the less qualified, are known for pricking unnecessary injections.

This is due to ineffective diagnostic facilities and consequent treatment by hit—and—
trial methods. This is unfair in the modern scientifically advanced era. Veterinary medicine has
gone through substantial changes during yester-century. Major technological advances are still
not available to dairy farmers. This is the reason for low profile treatment of sick costly dairy
animals. The ultimate sufferer is the dairy owner.

Make sure before starting your dairy farm, you find an experienced vetenary who shall be
treating your cows and advising you on better healthy practices. Make sure he/she is
knowledgeable of the latest/modern dairy health practices.


Timely disposal of animals suffering from incurable diseases like tuberculosis should be
done to save time, labour and money spent on their management and feeding.

“A healthy livestock is fundamental to the welfare of a nation as it provides milk meat,

hide drought power and fuel.

It provides to stable the agricultural—industrial economy.

The following factors require considerable attention when one decides for milk
production on a farm:

1. Suitability of the farm.

2. Suitability of the farm buildings and other fixed equipment.
3. Supply of right type of labor.
4. Availability of capital.
5. Capability of farmer.
6. Physical condition of soil.
7. Climate.
8. Water supply.

The basis of economic planning of dairy farm depends upon the following factors:

❖ Size of herd.
❖ Level of milk yield.
❖ Feeding policy and stock density.
❖ Farm area devoted to dairy farm and stocking density.
❖ Housing facilities.
❖ Seasonal production policy.
❖ Raising replacement stock.
❖ Watching milk yield.
❖ Check on food quantity and quality.
❖ Labour utilization.

The size of herd depends upon following factors:

1) Method of milking.
2) Milking shed facility.
3) Milking yield/cow.
4) Cow-shed layout.
5) Labour efficiency.
6) Area under forages.


The number of cows to be handled efficiently and conveniently is dictated by the acreage
of farm and cow-shed accommodation.

Factors Affecting the Profitability of Dairy Farm:

Various factors that influence the profitability of a dairy farm are as follows:

1. Milk Production/Per Cow:

This depends upon the lactation yield of the animal/breed, inter calving period (12-14
month), proper balanced feeding, diseases control measures, proper management techniques to
control the disease outbreak incidence, prompt treatment, culling of unproductive or below farm
standard animals.

2. Milk Price:

If a farmer is able to get better price he can improve his profitability. For this, the quality
of milk and marketing strategies has some role to play. Government/county policies can
influence milk price.

3. Replacement Cost:

Replacement cost of animal is influenced by the price of the cow purchased and price of
the cow culled/sold out. If replacement is from the farm grown stock, it is always better. At
proper age surplus calf can be sold. These factors can influence profitability. If raising calf for
replacement is costly it can be avoided by selling more calves.

4. Variable Cost:

By reducing variable cost specially feed and labour cost by least cost feed formulation
and by proper use of labour force to reduce labour cost, profitability can be improved.


Besides all these factors, initial investment on housing, equipment etc. also has influence
on the net profitability. Judicious use of funds for housing and purchase of animal is highly
desirable otherwise depreciation cost and interest on capital investment will reduce the net profit.
Further use of family labour and work planning can reduce labour cost and thereby increase net
profitability of the farm.

Is dairy farming profitable?

I have seen many Kenyan dairy farmers, especially in Kiambu county, smiling to the
bank. With enough information and skills about this field of business, the sky will be your limit.

Isaac Mwangi Ngure was not fortunate to join secondary school after class eight in 2003
due to lack of school fees. However, this did not dampen his dreams of succeeding in life.

As a young man eager to make some money for himself, he started picking tea for
farmers in Mariira, Kigumo ward, in Murang'a county.

Mwangi used to pick about 20kg of tea leaves per day, with a kilogramme earning him
Sh.3. Since he was staying at home with his parents at the time, he was able to save most of the
Sh.60 he was getting per day. From his savings he bought a young bull for Sh.3,000.

"I did not want to depend on my parents for long, so I worked hard picking tea and I was
able to buy two more young bulls at Sh.6,000 from the little I was able to save," says Mwangi.

After one year, he sold the three bulls for Sh.37,000 and bought a dairy cow for
Sh.34,000 -- this was the beginning of his successful dairy farming venture.

"I have since sold the cow. The four dairy cows I currently have are offsprings," the 26-
year-old says.

His cows christened Meni, Jane and Mary produce 32, 26 and 19 litres of milk a day
respectively while the fourth one is about to calf.

He sells 70 to 80 litres of milk daily to a hotel in Kangari Centre in Murang'a at Sh.35

and in a month, he makes about Sh.80,000.

"I prefer selling to the hotel because their price is better than the co-operative which buys
at between Sh.30 and Sh.33. I am also able to maintain a supplier-customer relationship," he

"I buy dairy meal, maize germ and fodder at Sh.18,000 to supplement the nappier grass
and sweet potato vines I have planted in my family's land," Mwangi says.

After paying his expenses and a farmhand who earns Sh.6,000 a month, Mwangi banks
about Sh.56,000 to Sh.60,000. Mwangi also runs a boda boda business to supplement his income.
He has already started building a three-bedroom stone house and he hopes to marry soon.

Things were not always easy when he first started in 2008; the project started picking up
in 2012. He attributes his success to hard work and going for field visits in Kiambu and Nanyuki
and working closely with the area veterinary officer who visits twice a month to check on his

"I have not had many challenges since I work very closely with the vet whom I always
consult on any abnormalities I see on my cows or in case of a disease outbreak which is rare,"
Mwangi explains.

He hopes to increase his herd of cows to 15 so that he can get between 200 and 300 litres
of milk a day and have a bio-digester plant.
"With improved production, I can be able to supply some milk to the cooperative and
eventually be able to buy a pick up so that I can buy and transport hay from Mwea and reduce on
cost," he says.

He notes that a bunch of hay in Mwea costs about Sh.80 to Sh.100 but when it gets to
Kangari centre, it is sold for between Sh.250 and Sh.300.

To pave way for expansion of his venture, Mwangi plans to uproot the few remaining tea
plants in his family's two-acre land and plant nappier grass.

He says tea farming is no longer lucrative as what he earns from milk daily, Sh.3,000, is
what many farmers earn from tea in a month.

"This is very little so I think I have no business with having tea in the farm. I also plan to
buy land somewhere by the roadside in three years time," says Mwangi.

He is now looking for additional funds to do this but taking a bank loan is a not an option
for him as the interest rates are still very high.

"I wish there was a way I can take a loan with Uwezo Fund as an individual as taking a
loan as a group is challenging. Some youths in this county have taken such loans and drunk all
the money and defaulted, hence one person is left to bear the burden," he says, adding that young
people should not wait for white collar jobs.

"Always have a vision and work hard to achieve it. I have always wanted to be a dairy
farmer and I worked hard to achieve my dreams," Mwangi concludes.

Just how much money does dairy farmers make in Kenya??

Have you always wondered why dairy farming has become popular in the country? Do
you love dairy animals but your work schedule, lack of land and little know how has kept your
dreams grounded? Then you want to read this.

The intensive systems are the most predominant and comprise zero-grazing and semi-zero
grazing systems. A rough estimate of returns obtainable from dairy enterprise can be calculated.

Important inputs for dairy production

1. Land.

I still believe you don’t have to own land to venture into dairy. Joseph Owuor is among the
most celebrated farmers in Kenya only leased a half acre plot in Njoro and keeps more than 500
heads of cattle. The guy makes almost a million shilling monthly on sales of milk and heifers.

2. Labor

Intensive dairy production is generally labor intensive regardless whether you depend on
machinery or human to perform tasks. Labor is about 40-50% of the total cost.

3. Capital

The most important capital in dairy is buying the cows and construction (shed, milking
crushes, fencing, and equipment). The cost of an in-calf heifer vary from Ksh 40, 000 - 200,000/-
depending on genetic potential. Simple cow sheds for holding up to 4 cows are estimated to cost
between Ksh.50,000 - Ksh. 100,000 depending on materials and labor. The cost can be
substantially reduced by using own timber, building stones, rainwater and home labor during
construction to between Ksh.10,000 to Ksh.30,000.

Important recurrent costs include purchase of feeds, artificial insemination, health care and
milk marketing (transport, preservation and value addition).

Estimated returns from dairy production based on inputs

I have used the following examples to show how to calculate economic returns from dairy
cattle and you should use it as guideline. It is very important that each farmer calculates production
figures based on cost of feeds in the area, as well as the price of milk in the market.

It is prudent to reduce costs as much as possible bearing in mind that some costs like feeds,
and health are the cornerstones of a profitable dairy production.

General assumptions:

❖ A dairy cow consumes feed amounting to 3% of its body weight daily

❖ No cow dies.
❖ The calf is raised successfully as replacement stock or sold after attaining maturity
❖ Artificial insemination is practiced
❖ Milk is sold at farm gate without value addition or any form of processing
❖ A bale of hay weighs 14.4 kg (DM basis)
❖ Labor costs vary with systems and locality.

Example 1: Dairy cow (Friesian or Ayrshire) weighing 400 kg kept in Central/Rift valley
under zero grazing management based on bought feeds.

Feedstuff Amount (fed based on dry matter).

● Napier grass 5 kg
● Lucerne 3kg
● Dairy meal 4kg
● Macklick super 120 grams

Note: Fresh water available free of choice.

The below Costs are based annually on 1 dairy cow

Fixed costs

❖ Dairy cow Ksh.80,000

❖ Dairy shed Ksh.20,000

Recurrent costs.

❖ Forage. Ksh.16,500
❖ Concentrates Ksh.30,000
❖ Health Ksh.15,000
❖ AI Ksh.800
❖ Calf Ksh.20,000
❖ Labor Ksh.60,000

TOTAL Ksh.142,300


❖ Milk Ksh.280,000
❖ Calf Ksh.30,000
❖ Manure Ksh.10,000

Total. Ksh.320,000

GROSS MARGIN. Ksh.178,000

Therefore, profit from one cow per year is Ksh.178,000 and per month amounts to Ksh
14,800 per month. keeping two or more animals lowers your costs and increases your margins.

Considering that you could make your own rations of feed, and do value addition to your
milk, your profit per cow could be as high as Ksh 20,000.

This is why most farmers attach all that value to their animals.

Chapter 2

Dairy Farming Business Plan

Are you about starting a dairy farming business? If YES, here is a complete sample dairy
farming business plan template & feasibility report you can use.

I have considered all the requirements for starting a dairy farming business. I also took it
further by analyzing and drafting a sample dairy farming marketing plan template backed up by
actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for dairy farms. So let’s proceed to the business planning

Why Start a Dairy Farming Business?

We all take in dairy foods on a regular basis; in fact there isn’t any home that doesn’t
consume dairy foods. This primarily is one of the reasons why those who have built a business
around the dairy industry are making a great deal of income on a daily basis. One of the
businesses that revolved around the dairy trade is starting a dairy farm.

It pays that one does all that needs to be done in order to start with the right footing. As
such one, one can undertake a thorough and exhaustive research.

You will also be required to write a business plan. One of the good things about business
plans is that they serve as a great guide and blueprint to fly with. There are plenty business plan
experts out there. But to save you the troubles and fees that you will have to pay, i have put
together a sample dairy farm business plan for you to use;

A Sample Dairy Farming Business Plan

Industry Overview

There are several business opportunities available in the agricultural industry and dairy
farming is one of them. One good thing about the agriculture industry is that there is market for
all the produce from the industry. A dairy farm is of course a thriving and profitable business
because of usefulness of beef and milk. People eat beef, drink their milk, and use their fur and
skin. With cattle milk, cheese can be made, along with other dairy products.

Companies in the dairy farms industry primarily raise cattle for milk. Although this
industry basically engage in the sale of raw milk and excludes the production of drinkable fluid
milk and processed dairy products like butter, cheese and powdered milk, some dairy farms can

still go ahead to accommodate other related business within the industry as long as they have the
capacity to do so.

In recent time, the price of raw milk has been highly volatile, resulting to fluctuations in
revenue for the Dairy Farms industry. For example, in 2011, the price of milk bounced back
from the recession and pushed up by increasing global demand, resulting to appreciable growth
in revenue generation. It was projected that in 2016, an oversupply of dairy products is expected
to cause revenue to deep further in the industry.

However, despite all the volatility, the industry is expected to experience appreciable
growth going forward. For the time being, the price of cattle feed, which typically makes up
about half of the average dairy farm’s total expenses, has been nose diving as far back as 2014,
significantly strengthening industry profit margins.

The Dairy Farms Industry is indeed a large industry and pretty much active in countries
such as United States of America, Israel, Argentine, Holland, Egypt, China, Germany, Turkey,
Kenya and Nigeria etc. There is no single dairy farm company that has dominated market share
in the industry hence smaller dairy farm businesses can successfully make profits.

As an aspiring entrepreneur who is looking towards leveraging on the agriculture industry

to generate huge income, then one of your best bet is to start dairy farms business. Dairy farms
business is all about mass – breeding of cattle (cows, oxen, bulls, bullocks, steers, heifers and
calf etc) for the sole aim of generating raw milk in commercial quantities and of cause making

Just like any other business, if you are able to conduct your market research and
feasibility studies before launching your dairy farms, you are more likely not going to struggle to
sell your raw milk and other dairy products because there are loads of people out there who eat

beef, drink milk and industries that make use of byproducts from cattle in manufacturing their

Lastly, there are few barriers to entry into the dairy farms industry. Usually, all inputs are
readily available. In the nearest future, players in this industry may face the highest costs
associated with accessing technology, especially in relation to genetic modification engineering
in livestock breeding.

Dairy Farm Business Plan – Executive Summary

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is a registered and world class dairy farms
company that will be based in Kiambu County, Ruiru. We have done our detailed market
research and feasibility studies and we were able to secure a hundred acres of land to build our
dairy farming business.

Our dairy farms business is a going to be standard one hence will be involved in
commercial breeding of cows, oxen, bulls, bullocks, steers, heifers and calf etc for the main aim
of producing raw milk in commercial quantities. We will also be involved in boarding services,
breeding services, dairy support services, livestock health services, farrier services, and shearing
services etc.

We are in the dairy farms business because we want to leverage on the vast opportunities
available in the dairy farms industry, to contribute our quota in growing the Kenya`s economy, in
national food (raw milk) production, meat, raw materials production for industries, to export
agriculture produce from Kenya to other countries and over and above to make profit.

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is well positioned to become one of the leading
brands in the dairy farms industry in Kenya, which is why we have been able to source for the
best hands and equipment to run the business.

We have put process and strategies in place that will help us employ best practices when
it comes to producing raw milk in commercial quantities and conforming to the rules and
regulation as required by the regulating bodies in Kenya.

At Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC our customer’s best interest will always come
first, and everything we do will be guided by our values and professional ethics. We will ensure
that we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards by meeting our client’s needs
precisely and completely. We will cultivate a working environment that provides a human,
sustainable approach to earning a living, and living in our world, for our partners, employees and
for our clients.

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is a private registered dairy farms company that is
owned and managed by Columbus Waweru and his immediate family members. The company
will be fully and single handedly financed by the owner – Columbus Waweru and his immediate
family members at least for a period of time.

Before starting Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC, Columbus Waweru has worked
with some of the leading dairy farms in Kenya and the larger Eastern Africa. He has a degree in
Agribusiness and well over 10 years of experience.

Our Product Offerings

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is a licensed dairy farms business that is committed
to producing raw milk in commercial quantities for both the Kenyan market and the Eastern

Africa market. We are in the dairy farms industry for the purpose of generating profits and we
are going to do all that is permitted by the laws in Kenya to achieve our business goals.

These are the areas we will concentrate on in our dairy farms business. If need arises we
will definitely add more related animal breeding services to our list;

❖ Milking dairy cattle

❖ Dairy support services
❖ Dairy cattle farming
❖ Farrier services
❖ Sale and export of cotton wool and other dairy products
❖ Sale of Cattle and milk
❖ Sale of processed meat (beef) / can – beef (Processed Dairy foods, and canned beef etc)
❖ Shearing services
❖ Dairy farming related consultancy and advisory services

Our Vision Statement

Our Vision is to become one of the leading dairy farms business brands not just in Kenya,
but also in Eastern Africa.

Our Mission Statement

Our mission is to sell our raw milk and other dairy farms products in commercial
quantities both locally, nationally and internationally. We want to build a dairy farms business
that can favorably compete with other leading dairy farms brands in Kenya and in the globe.

Our Business Structure

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is a dairy farms company that intend starting small
in Kiambu County, Ruiru, but hope to grow big in order to compete favorably with leading dairy
farms in the industry both in Kenya and on a global stage.

We are aware of the importance of building a solid business structure that can support the
picture of the kind of world class business we want to own. This is why we are committed to
only hire the best hands in and around Kiambu county and Kenya.

At Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC, we will ensure that we hire people that are
qualified, hardworking, dedicated, customer centric and are ready to work to help us build a
prosperous business that will benefit all the stakeholders (the owners, workforce, and customers).

As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our senior
management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of five years or more as
agreed by the management of the dairy farms. In view of the above, we have decided to hire
qualified and competent hands to occupy the following positions. Below is the business structure
of Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC;

❖ Chief Operating Officer

❖ General Dairy Farm Manager
❖ Administrator / Accountant
❖ Sales and Marketing Executive
❖ Farm / Field Employees
❖ Front Desk Officer

Roles and Responsibilities

Chief Operating Officer:

❖ Increases management’s effectiveness by recruiting, selecting, orienting, training,
coaching, counseling, and disciplining managers; communicating values, strategies, and
objectives; assigning accountabilities; planning, monitoring, and appraising job results;
developing incentives; developing a climate for offering information and opinions;
providing educational opportunities.
❖ Responsible for providing direction for the business
❖ Creates, communicates, and implements the organization’s vision, mission, and overall
direction – i.e. leading the development and implementation of the overall organization’s
❖ Responsible for signing checks and documents on behalf of the company
❖ Evaluates the success of the organization

General Dairy Farm Manager

❖ Responsible for the planning, management and coordinating all farm activities across the
various sections on behalf of the organization
❖ Supervise other section manager
❖ Ensures compliance during project executions
❖ Provides advice on the management of farming activities across all section
❖ Responsible for carrying out risk assessment
❖ Uses IT systems and software to keep track of people and progress of the growth of cattle
❖ Responsible for overseeing the accounting, costing and sale of raw milk and other dairy
❖ Represent the organization’s interest at various stakeholders meetings
❖ Ensures that dairy farm goals desired result are achieved, the most efficient resources
(manpower, equipment, tools and chemicals etc) are utilized and different interests
involved are satisfied. Responsible for preparing financial reports, budgets, and financial
statements for the organization

❖ Oversee the smooth running of the daily farming activities across the various farming

Administrator / Accountant

❖ Responsible for overseeing the smooth running of HR and administrative tasks for the
❖ Defines job positions for recruitment and managing interviewing process
❖ Carries out staff induction for new team members
❖ Responsible for training, evaluation and assessment of employees
❖ Responsible for preparing financial reports, budgets, and financial statements for the
❖ Responsible for financial forecasting and risks analysis.
❖ Responsible for developing and managing financial systems and policies
❖ Responsible for administering payrolls
❖ Ensures compliance with taxation legislation
❖ Handles all financial transactions for the farms
❖ Serves as internal auditor for the farms

Sales and Marketing Officer

❖ Identifies, prioritizes, and reaches out to new partners, and business opportunities etc
❖ Identifies development opportunities; follows up on development leads and contacts;
participates in the structuring and financing of new business
❖ Writes winning proposal documents, negotiate fees and rates in line with company policy
❖ Responsible for handling business research, market surveys and feasibility studies for
❖ Responsible for supervising implementation, advocate for the customer’s needs, and
communicate with clients
❖ Develops, executes and evaluates new plans for expanding increase sales
❖ Documents all customer contact and information
❖ Represents the company in strategic meetings
❖ Helps to increase sales and growth for the company

Field Workers / Contract Staff

❖ Responsible for milking cattle as instructed by the general dairy farms manager
❖ Responsible for feeding cattle and other livestock as instructed by the supervisor
❖ Responsible for cleaning the cattle ranch
❖ Change the water in the water trough / trench as instructed by the supervisor on a regular
❖ Handles farm implements and machines as instructed by the section manager / supervisor
❖ Assist in handling the breeding of cattle
❖ Carries out task in line with the stated job description
❖ Assist in transport working tools and equipment from the dairy farm and back to the
designated store room
❖ Handles any other duties as assigned by the dairy farm manager

Client Service Executive / Front Desk Officer

❖ Welcomes guests and clients by greeting them in person or on the telephone; answering
or directing inquiries.
❖ Ensures that all contacts with clients (e-mail, walk-In center, SMS or phone) provides the
client with a personalized customer service experience of the highest level
❖ Through interaction with clients on the phone, uses every opportunity to build client’s
interest in the company’s products and services
❖ Manages administrative duties assigned by the cattle ranch manager in an effective and
timely manner

❖ Consistently stays abreast of any new information on the company’s products,
promotional campaigns etc. to ensure accurate and helpful information is supplied to
❖ Receives parcels / documents for the company
❖ Distributes mails in the organization
❖ Handles any other duties as assigned by the line manager

Dairy Farm Business Plan – SWOT Analysis

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC do not intend to launch out a business on a trial and
error platform hence the need to conduct a proper SWOT analysis. We know that if we get it
right from the onset, we would have succeeded in creating the foundation that will help us build
a standard dairy farms business that will favorably compete with leading dairy farms in Kiambu
County, Kenya and in Eastern Africa.

As a standard dairy farms business, we look forward to maximizing our strength and
opportunities and also to work around our weaknesses and threats. Here is a summary from the
result of the SWOT analysis that was conducted on behalf of Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms,

● Strength:

Our strength as a cattle rearing business is the fact that we have healthy relationships with
loads of major players (agricultural merchants) in the dairy farms industry; both suppliers and
buyers of raw milk in commercial quantity within and outside of Kenya.

We have some of the latest cattle rearing machines; tools and equipment that will help us
breed our cattle (cows, oxen, bulls, bullocks, steers, heifers and calf e.t.c) in commercial

quantities with less stress. Aside from our relationship (network) and equipment, we can
confidently boast that we have some the most experienced hands in the dairy farms industry
under our payroll.

● Weakness:

Our weakness could be that we are a new dairy farms business in Kenya and we may not
have the required cash to pump into the publicity of our business. We are aware of this and from
our projection will overcome this weakness with time and turn it to a major advantage for the

● Opportunities:

The opportunities that are available to us cannot be quantified. The fact that almost
everybody in the world drinks milk and dairy farms products makes the business highly
marketable. We know that there are loads of homeowners, businesses and industries that will
source for raw milk and other dairy products both in Kenya and Eastern Africa. We are well
positioned to take advantage of these opportunities as they come our way.

● Threat:

Some of the threats and challenges that we are likely going to face when we start our own
dairy farms are global economic downturn that can impact negatively on household spending,
bad weather cum natural disasters (droughts, epidemics), unfavorable government policies and
the arrival of a competitor (a dairy farm or even cattle rearing farm that are also into production
of raw milk) within same location.

There is hardly anything you can do as regards this threats and challenges other than to be
optimistic that things will continue to work for your good.
Dairy Farm Business Plan – MARKET ANALYSIS

● Market Trends

A close study of the dairy farming industry shows that most dairy farms that has the
capacity do not just concentrate in the commercial production of raw milk for households and
businesses that are involved in the production of fluid milk products, cheese, dry, condensed and
evaporated milk, creamery butter and yogurt etc.

They go as far as establishing a standard milk and beef processing company in line with
their core business. It is a means of maximizing profits and increasing source of revenue

Despite the fact that dairy farm has been in existence since time immemorial, that does
not in any way make the industry to be over saturated; dairy farmers are exploring new
technology to continue to improve raw milk production processes and also meat and milk
preservation and packaging process. The fact that there is always a ready market for raw milk
and other dairy products makes the business ever green.

Lastly, one of the notable trends in dairy farms industry is that with the recent
advancement in technology dairy farmers can now improve the various breeds of the animals
they are breeding so as to increase the quantity of milk they produce per time.

As a matter of fact, it is now easier for dairy farmers to comfortably import the kind of
breed of domestic animal they want to breed from any country of their choice and also
advancement in technology has made it easier to cross – breed different animal.

● Our Target Market

As expected, the target market of those who are the end consumer of dairy farms produce
and also those who benefits from the business value chain of the agriculture industry is all
encompassing; it is far – reaching.

Every household consumes produce from livestock farms be it meat, milk, and the skin
(leather) used for bags, belts and shoes production etc. So also a large chunk of manufacturing
companies depends on dairy farms for some of their raw materials. In essence a dairy farmer
should be able to sell his or her raw milk and other dairy products to as many people as possible.

We will ensure that we position our business to attract consumers of raw milk and other
dairy products not just in Kenya alone but also the larger Eastern Africa which is why we will be
exporting some of our dairy farm produce either in raw form or processed form to other

Our Competitive Advantage

From experience, entrepreneurs are known to flock towards an industry that is known to
generate consistent income which is why there are more upcoming dairy farms in Kenya and of
course in most parts of Eastern Africa.

As a matter of fact, entrepreneurs are encouraged by the government to embrace

commercial farming / dairy farming. This is so because part of the success of any nation is her
ability to cultivate her own food and also export foods to other nations of the world.

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is fully aware that there are competitions when it
comes to selling raw milk and other dairy products all over the globe, which is why we decided
to carry out thorough market research and feasibility studies so as to know how to take advantage
of the available market in Kenya and in Eastern Africa.

We have done our homework and we have been able to highlight some factors that will
give us competitive advantage in the marketplace; some of the factors are effective and reliable
dairy farming processes that can help us sell our raw milk and other dairy products at
competitive prices, good network and excellent relationship management.

Another competitive advantage that we are bringing to the industry is the fact that we
have designed our business in such a way that we will operate an all – round standard dairy
farms that will be involved in diverse areas such as animal rearing and meat and milk processing
and packaging plant. With this, we will be able to take advantage of all the available
opportunities within the industry.

Lastly, all our employees will be well taken care of, and their welfare package will be
among the best within our category (startups dairy farms companies in Kenya) in the industry. It
will enable them to be more than willing to build the business with us and help deliver our set
goals and achieve all our business aims and objectives.


It is a known fact that the reason why some dairy farms hardly make good profits is their
inability to sell off their raw milk and other dairy products to a larger market. In view of that, we
decided to set up a standard meat and milk processing and packing plant to help us maximize

Over and above, we have perfected our sale and marketing strategies first by networking
with agriculture merchants and companies that rely on raw materials from the dairy farms
industry who are likely to refer become our customers. In summary, Columbus & Sons Dairy
Farms, LLC will adopt the following strategies in marketing our cattle rearing produce;

❖ Introduce our business by sending introductory letters alongside our brochure to stake
holders in the agriculture industry, companies that rely on the dairy farms industry for
their raw materials, hotels and restaurants and agriculture produce merchant etc.
❖ Advertise our business in agro – allied and food related magazines and websites
❖ List our dairy farms on yellow pages ads (local directories)
❖ Attend related agriculture and food expos, seminars, and business fairs et al
❖ Leverage on the internet to promote our business
❖ Engage in direct marketing
❖ Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)

Sources of Income

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is in the dairy farms industry for the purpose of
maximizing profits hence we have decided to explore all the available opportunities within the
industry to achieve our corporate goals and objectives. In essence we are not going to rely only
on the sale of raw milk and other dairy products to generate income for the business.

Below are the sources we intend exploring to generate income for Columbus & Sons
Dairy Farms, LLC;

❖ Milking dairy cattle

❖ Dairy support services
❖ Dairy cattle farming
❖ Farrier services
❖ Sale and export of cotton wool and other dairy products
❖ Sale of Cattle and milk
❖ Sale of processed meat (beef) / can – beef (Processed Dairy foods, and can beef etc)
❖ Shearing services
❖ Dairy farming related consultancy and advisory services

Sales Forecast

From the survey conducted, we were are able to discover that the sales generated by a
dairy farm depends on the size and capacity of the dairy farms and of course the network of the

We have perfected on sales and marketing strategies and we are set to hit the ground
running and we are quite optimistic that we will meet or even surpass our set sales target of
generating enough income / profits from the year of operations and build the business from
survival to sustainability.

We have been able to critically examine the dairy farms industry and we have analyzed
our chances in the industry and we have been able to come up with the following sales forecast.
The sales projection is based on information gathered on the field and some workable
assumptions as well with respect to the nature of dairy farms business that we run.

Below are the projections that we were able to come up with for the first three years of
running Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC;

● First Fiscal Year-: Ksh.25,000,000

● Second Fiscal Year-: Ksh.65,000,000
● Third Fiscal Year-: Ksh.90,000,000

N.B: This projection is done based on what is obtainable in the industry and with the
assumption that there won’t be any major economic meltdown that can impact negatively on
household spending, bad weather cum natural disasters (droughts, epidemics), and unfavorable
government policies.

● Our Pricing Strategy

We are fully aware that some of the key factors that will help us sell our raw milk and
other dairy farm products at the right price that will guarantee us making profits is dependent on
our strategy while some of the factors are beyond our control.

For example, if the climatic condition is unfavorable and if there is natural disaster in the
location where we have our dairy farm, then it will directly affect the prices of our raw milk and
other dairy farm products.

The truth is that, if we want to get the right pricing structure for our raw milk and other
dairy products, then we must ensure that we choose a good location for our dairy farms, choose a
good breed that will guarantee steady and multiple breeding (prolific breeds), cut the cost of
running our farm to the barest minimum and of course try as much as possible to attract buyer to
our farm as against taking our raw milk and other dairy products to the market to source for
buyers; with this, we would have successfully eliminate the cost of transporting the goods to the
market and other logistics that can impact on our operational cost.

We are quite aware that one of the easiest means of penetrating the market and acquiring
loads of customers for all our raw milk and other dairy products is to sell them at competitive
prices hence we will do all we can to ensure that the prices of our produce are going to be what
other dairy farms and even commercial livestock farmers who are into the sale of raw milk
would look towards beating.

One thing is certain, the nature of dairy farms business we are involved in makes it
possible for farmers to place prices for their raw milk and other dairy products based on their
discretion without following the benchmark in the industry. The truth is that it is one of the

means of avoiding running into loss. The easier you sell off your raw milk and other dairy
products the better for your business.

● Payment Options

The payment policy adopted by Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is all inclusive
because we are quite aware that different customers prefer different payment options as it suits
them but at the same time, we will ensure that we abide by the financial rules and regulation of

Here are the payment options that Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC will make
available to her clients;

❖ Payment via bank transfer

❖ Payment with cash
❖ Payment via online bank transfer
❖ Payment via check
❖ Payment via bank draft
❖ Payment via mobile money

In view of the above, we have chosen banking platforms that will enable our client make
payment for farm produces purchase without any stress on their part. Our bank account numbers
will be made available on our website and promotional materials to clients who may want to
deposit cash or make online transfer for our raw milk and other dairy products.

Dairy Farm Business Plan – Publicity and Advertising Strategy

Any business that wants to grow beyond the corner of the street or the city they are
operating from must be ready and willing to utilize every available means (both conventional and
non – conventional means) to advertise and promote the business. We intend growing our
business which is why we have perfected plans to build our brand via every available means.

We know that it is important to create strategies that will help us boost our brand
awareness and to create a corporate identity for our cattle rearing business. Below are the
platforms we want to leverage on to boost our dairy farms brand and to promote and advertise
our business;

❖ Place adverts on both print (newspapers and magazines) and electronic media platforms
❖ Sponsor relevant community based events / programs
❖ Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook , twitter,
YouTube, Google + etc to promote our business
❖ Install our Bill Boards on strategic locations all around Kiambu and Nairobi.
❖ Engage in road show from time to time in targeted neighborhoods
❖ Distribute our flyers and handbills in target areas
❖ Contact corporate organizations and residence in our target areas by calling them up and
informing them of Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC and the dairy farm produce we
❖ List our dairy farms in local directories / yellow pages
❖ Advertise our dairy farms in our official website and employ strategies that will help us
pull traffic to the site.
❖ Ensure that all our staff members wear our branded shirts and all our vehicles and trucks
are well branded with our company logo etc.

Dairy Farm Business Plan – Financial Projections and Costing

When it comes to calculating the cost of starting a dairy farm, there are some key factors
that should serve as a guide. The capacity of the raw milk to be produced per time and other
related dairy products will determine the total cost of setting up the business.

Besides, in setting up any business, the amount or cost will depend on the approach and
scale you want to undertake. If you intend to go big by renting / leasing a big facility, then you
would need a good amount of capital as you would need to ensure that your employees are well
taken care of, and that your facility is conducive enough for workers to be creative and

This means that the start-up can either be low or high depending on your goals, vision
and aspirations for your business.

The tools and equipment that will be used are nearly the same cost everywhere, and any
difference in prices would be minimal and can be overlooked. As for the detailed cost analysis
for starting a dairy farms business; it might differ in other countries due to the value of their

Below are some of the basic areas we will spend our start – up capital in setting up our
dairy farms;

● The Total Fee for incorporating the Business (dairy farm) in Kenya – Ksh.75,000.
● The amount needed to acquire / lease a dairy farm land – Ksh.5,000,000
● The amount required for preparing the farm land (cattle ranch / dairy farm) –
● Legal expenses for obtaining licenses and permits as well as the accounting services
(software, P.O.S machines and other software) – Ksh.330,000.

● Marketing promotion expenses for the grand opening of Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms,
LLC in the amount of Ksh.350,000 and as well as flyer printing (2,000 flyers at Ksh.4
per copy) for the total amount of Ksh.358,000.
● The total cost for hiring Business Consultant – Ksh.250,000.
● The total cost for payment of insurance policy covers (general liability, workers’
compensation and property casualty) coverage at a total premium – Ksh.940,000
● The amount required for the purchase of the first set of cattle – Ksh.1,000,000
● The cost for acquiring the required working tools and equipment and milking machines
etc– Ksh.5,000,000
● Operational cost for the first 3 months (salaries of employees, payments of bills etc) –
● The Cost of Launching an official Website – Ksh.60,000
● Additional Expenditure (Business cards, Signage, Adverts and Promotions etc) –

Going by the report from detailed research and feasibility studies conducted, we will need
an average of Ksh.70,000,000 to start a standard dairy commercial farms business in Kenya.

Generating Funding / Startup Capital for Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC

No matter how fantastic your business idea might be, if you don’t have the required
money to finance the business, the business might not become a reality. Finance is a very
important factor when it comes to starting a business such as commercial dairy farming. No
doubt raising startup capital for a business might not come cheap, but it is a task that an
entrepreneur must go through.

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is a family business that is solely owned and
financed by Columbus Waweru and his immediate family members. They do not intend to

welcome any external business partners, which is why he has decided to restrict the sourcing of
the start – up capital to 3 major sources.

These are the areas we intend generating our start – up capital;

● Generate part of the start – up capital from personal savings

● Source for soft loans from family members and friends
● Apply for loan from my Bank

N.B: We have been able to generate about Ksh.30,000,000 (Personal savings

Ksh.20,000,000 and soft loan from family members Ksh.10,000,000) and we are at the final
stages of obtaining a loan facility of Ksh.40,000,000 from our bank. All the papers and
document have been signed and submitted, the loan has been approved and any moment from
now our account will be credited with the amount.

Dairy Farm Business Plan – Sustainability and Expansion Strategy

The future of a business lies in the numbers of loyal customers that they have the capacity
and competence of the employees, their investment strategy and the business structure. If all of
these factors are missing from a business (company), then it won’t be too long before the
business closes.

One of our major goals of starting Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC is to build a
business that will survive off its own cash flow without the need for injecting finance from
external sources once the business is officially running. We know that one of the ways of gaining
approval and winning customers over is to sell our raw milk and other dairy products a little bit
cheaper than what is obtainable in the market and we are well prepared to survive on lower profit
margin for a while.

Columbus & Sons Dairy Farms, LLC will make sure that the right foundation, structures
and processes are put in place to ensure that our staff welfare are well taken of. Our company’s
corporate culture is designed to drive our business to greater heights and training and re –
training of our workforce is at the top burner.

As a matter of fact, profit-sharing arrangement will be made available to all our

management staff and it will be based on their performance for a period of six years or more. We
know that if that is put in place, we will be able to successfully hire and retain the best hands we
can get in the industry; they will be more committed to help us build the business of our dreams.

Check List / Milestone

❖ Business Name Availability Check: Completed

❖ Business Registration: Completed
❖ Opening of Corporate Bank Accounts: Completed
❖ Securing Point of Sales (POS) Machines: Completed
❖ Opening Mobile Money Accounts: Completed
❖ Opening Online Payment Platforms: Completed
❖ Application and Obtaining Tax Payer’s ID: In Progress
❖ Application for business license and permit: Completed
❖ Purchase of Insurance for the Business: Completed
❖ Leasing of farm land and building of standard dairy farm: In Progress
❖ Conducting Feasibility Studies: Completed
❖ Generating capital from family members: Completed
❖ Applications for Loan from the bank: In Progress
❖ Writing of Business Plan: Completed
❖ Drafting of Employee’s Handbook: Completed
❖ Drafting of Contract Documents and other relevant Legal Documents: In Progress
❖ Design of The Company’s Logo: Completed

❖ Graphic Designs and Printing of Packaging Marketing / Promotional Materials: In
❖ Recruitment of employees: In Progress
❖ Purchase of the Needed furniture, racks, shelves, computers, electronic appliances, office
appliances and CCTV: In progress
❖ Creating Official Website for the Company: In Progress
❖ Creating Awareness for the business both online and around the community: In Progress
❖ Health and Safety and Fire Safety Arrangement (License): Secured
❖ Opening party / launching party planning: In Progress
❖ Compilation of our list of products that will be available in our dairy farms: Completed
❖ Establishing business relationship with vendors – key players and merchant in the
industry: In Progress

Chapter 3

Capital Requirement Calculation

Dairy farming can be a lucrative and rewarding business, but determining the amount of
capital required to start a dairy farm can be a daunting task. To calculate the cost of starting a
dairy farm, document some basic information on a spreadsheet. Start by following some
common steps.

1. Establish the total area of your dairy farm

Total area includes pasture land or grazing area, fields for growing crops, corrals for
holding cattle in the cold seasons, buildings including barns, sheds and housing, and areas for
storing feed and manure. This can be the most important step when you calculate the cost of
starting a dairy farm because of how it affects your other costs. Virtually all of your other costs
from machinery and capital to feed and veterinary care will be based off of the number of
animals that you can house on the property.

You will need to know your fixed, variable, operating, and depreciation costs. Fixed costs
include rent; variable costs include fuel/electricity, feed, fertilizer, cattle prices for selling culls
and bull calves, maintenance for machinery, etc.; operating costs include costs of feeding cows,
milk production, veterinary bills, feed bills, etc.; depreciation costs include machinery, building,
livestock, and equipment.

2. Determine the number of dairy cattle that the grazing area can legally support.

Many areas have local governmental guidelines that mandate the maximum number of
hoofed animals that are allowed per acre of grazing land.

The cost per head (or per animal) will vary slightly (usually less than 10 percent)
depending on the "line" or family history of the animals that you are considering purchasing.
You can get a baseline value of dairy cattle in your areas by visiting the local livestock auction.

Multiply the number of animals that you can house by the median sale price to arrive at
the estimated cost of purchasing your dairy herd.

Feed is one cost to consider. The amount of feed each animal will require is dependent on
the climate and whether you are feeding straight grain, sweet feed, or a combination of grain and
grass or hay. Your local feed supplier will be able to help you prepare a diet specific to your
region and give you an estimated monthly price per head.

3. Itemize the equipment that you will need to lease or purchase

Remember to include milking machines, sterilizing machines and milk storage tanks as
well as computers and other office equipment.

Veterinary care is another cost to consider. Most dairy farms utilize a combination of
inoculations or vaccinations, hormone injections and supplements to maximize the milk
production. You should also anticipate injuries and illness. Your local veterinarian will be able to
supply you with the specific items required for your region and the cost per head of each item as
well as a rough estimate of emergency care costs.

4. Estimate your non-livestock monthly operating costs.

Include your mortgage, utility bills, payroll, farm vehicles, etc.


❖ Consider costs for hired labour on your farm. Often dairy farms are large enough to
require at least one hired hand to help with operations, as it may be too much for you to
run a dairy farm all by yourself.

❖ Before you begin to calculate the cost of starting a dairy farm, you need to decide
whether or not you will house a bull on site. Bulls are known to be aggressive and, in
some cases, dangerous. But the cows will have to be bred regularly to continue providing
milk. If you are not going to house a bull on site, remember to factor in the cost of
inseminating the cows.
❖ If you don't wish to keep a bull, consider using Artificial Insemination (AI) to keep your
cows bred regularly. It takes no feed, no extra corrals, and much less risk of life to AI
cows, and all is needed is to hire an AI technician to breed your cows for you. You will
have to have your hired hands to do heat detection for you in order to time when your
cows get bred, though.

Remember: You may get errors in your calculations as you go along with your plan, so
make sure you run-by the calculations again and again to see where you are going wrong and
what you may be missing.

Traits to consider when buying a dairy cow

Traits to consider when buying a dairy cow – While it is true you can mint millions
selling milk produced by your dairy cows; farmers fail to attain this for lack of good planning at
the foundation level. At the very core of any good dairy farming, breed selection and subsequent
animal husbandry are of paramount importance.

There are many traits to consider when buying a dairy cow. However, milk production is
a factor of the genetic make-up and the environment, where environment includes housing, feed
and health management.

Dairy cows are kept for milk production. Any farmer engaged in dairy production must
have lots of milk from his current herd, whose sales must offset the amount spent on its
production — where this isn’t the case then, we can’t talk of commercial dairy production.

Indigenous breeds have never been good at milk production since they are multi-purpose
— kept for drought resistance, milk and meat production. Some counties like Garissa and
Marsabit satisfy their markets with the milk from indigenous animals due to their large stocks.

However, the problem of in-breeding perpetuated by free-range grazing is taking its toll
on the productivity of Zebu cows.

Factors to Consider before Seeking the Right Dairy cow

It is important to consider the following factors before deciding on the dairy cow to

1. Suitability to the environment. Important environmental parameters such as rainfall and

temperature ought to be considered.
2. Availability of feed resources throughout the year and possibility of storage.
3. Land size: This determines the number of animals you can keep.
4. Intensity of production, which is whether you intend to rear your animals under zero-
grazing or free-grazing.
5. Outlay of capital resources required.
6. Availability of the animal of choice and transportation costs involved.
7. Milk market requirements and preferences.
8. Traits of a Dairy Cow

Traits to consider when buying a dairy cow

Production traits

These traits refer to milk volume and the contents i.e percentage of butterfat level, protein
and other non-fat solids. Milk volume should be considered relative to amount of feeds
consumed since more produce from relatively lesser fodder is proof of a high feed conversion
efficiency. More solids in milk generally increase the quality.

Conformation traits

These traits give an indication of the performance of the dairy animal and include the
udder structure, nature of feet or legs, stature and general dairy character.

The udder should be pliable, silky in texture, sack-like in nature and non-pendulous but
firmly attached with strong suspensory ligaments high up near the vulva region. A huge udder is
not necessarily a sign of a high milk yield. The teats should be average-sized and evenly placed
and pointing straight down on the udder.

Good feet and strong legs lead to longevity of a dairy cow and facilitates it to be able to
feed comfortably especially when in-calf. Observed from behind, a dairy cow’s hind legs should
stand straight and wide apart while the side view should show a slightly set back sickled ending
with slightly angled feet. The front legs should also be straight with a steep strongly attached

The ideal cow’s stature should portray a deep, long body with wide, sprung ribs to
provide ample space for the rumen and other digestive system organs. A good dairy cow should
have a wedge shape, long neck, and good width between fore legs, wide pin bones, broad muzzle
and strong straight top line.

The classic dairy character is indicated by sharpness across shoulders and slight general
leanness all over the body ending with a thin fine tail. Generally, pedigree dairy cows portray
flatness of bone usually evident on the inner thigh.

Fertility traits

The number of inseminations per conception will always determine the success of a
breeding programme. The fewer the inseminations per conception, the better the fertility of a
particular animal.

Longevity traits

This determines the amount of total lifetime milk production of a cow but it is usually
influenced greatly by other traits such as health and fertility. Choose heifers or bull semen from
families with a history of cows that can maintain high production ability across many lactations
as well as have as many normal calvings as possible in their lifetimes.

Health traits

Emphasis should be laid on choosing disease-resistant and hardy animals to remain in

production for long.

Calving ease traits

Physical traits that facilitate easy calving include a wide pelvic diameter and a gentle
slope from pin to hip bone. A cow’s body frame should portray a strong straight back or loin,

which is essential during gestation in enabling the animal to comfortably feed as well as carry its
foetus to term.


Milking speed is of essence in maximizing yield since milk let-down is controlled by

oxytocin hormone whose concentration levels in blood diminish with time. Therefore, it is
important to choose animals with the right teat size, shape and opening. Bad temperament
interferes with oxytocin flow during milking, thus, one should also consider docility when
choosing a dairy animal.

Chapter 4

Choosing a Location of the Dairy Farm

Commercial dairy farms can be set up near the city or town e.g ruiru, Kikuyu, limuru
where there is assured market of milk round the year or in the milk-shed areas of milk processing
plants. Nearness to market is important as nearer the market lesser will be the transportation
charges and lesser will be the loss due to spoilage of highly perishable milk and milk products
during storage and transportation.

Ideally the large dairy farms should be located nearer to towns but not in towns itself as
in urban areas the conditions are not exactly ideal nor economical for production of milk. Land
may not be available or available at high rentals for animal sheds and for fodder production. The
producer has to purchase the feed items at higher prices. Yet many city dairy owners earn
handsome money as they can sell milk at high prices to the consumers directly often
circumventing the middlemen.

In rural areas the cost of fodders and labour which are the major inputs for milk
production are comparatively lower but so also is the demand and prices of milk. The villages
located close to cities on highways leading into cities are ideally suited for dairy business.

In fact most of commercial milk producers in the country comprise of this category who
market milk readily in cities by themselves. The cornerstone of successful dairying is the
elimination of middlemen in the marketing of milk and the producers themselves have to devise
their marketing mechanism so that they directly sell the milk and value added milk products to
the consumers.

The other important requirement for setting up of a successful commercial dairy farm is
the land for fodder cultivation. The land should be well fertile with assured so that all the
seasonal fodder crops could be successfully raised and abundant good quality green fodders are
made available for animal feeding throughout the year. The place where the dairy farm is to be
set up should have a source of good quality fresh water for animal drinking and for the cleaning,
washing etc. at the dairy farm.

Chapter 5

Equipment Needed for your Dairy Farm

Your cattle farming venture is more than just a business, it is a lifestyle. Unlike other
businesses, your work doesn’t just revolve in going to some office or some manufacturing plant.
In a ranch, you do have paperwork, and you do run a production, but every day, there are dozens
of chores for you to work on – fence mending, feeding, vehicle maintenance, grazing
management. The list goes on.

That is why your operation should be as efficient as possible. This way, you can be more
productive, and you will find more time for yourself, your friends and your family. Cattle
equipment makes your operations run efficiently. A tractor can help you drive a trailer that
carries feeds, eliminating the need to drag around bins and all. An auger add-on to your tractor
can help you with chores that require digging such as fence post repairs and mending. Another
add-on can help you churn up soil in your land so that grass can grow again.

My dad (a guy who could build anything, from any kind of material—wood, concrete,
metal …) taught us to treat tools as an important investment, so I’ll offer up his advice: Take
your time acquiring your tools (and equipment), but get the best quality you can afford and they
will serve you for years.

Don’t make the mistake of buying every little thing you see; unless you are fabulously
wealthy, you can quickly break the bank on stuff that doesn’t get used and ultimately takes up
valuable storage space, gets thrown away, or sold at a garage sale. For a tool or implement that
will only be used a few times, consider renting it—or bartering for its use with a neighbor.

Here are the usual cattle equipment groups that most cattle farmers have on their farm.
Note that most of these equipment are those you cannot do away with, others have cheaper
alternatives – those that you have to assemble or build yourself. You can look up detailed
information in cattle equipment vendor sites e.g olx.com.

Cattle Handling Equipment

These are the equipment necessary when moving, weighing and inspecting cattle. The
cattle equipment under this list are calf tables, cattle headgates, squeeze chutes, loading chutes
and cattle handling accessories such as weighing scales, head chains, and squeeze chute adaptors.

Corral Systems

Corral systems are smaller enclosures that you might want to use for animals whenever
you do not want them moving around. These are commonly used for horses but they can be used
for cattle as well. Corral systems are either permanent or portable. Its price depends on the
number of cattle it can hold, as well as the additional features. Some corral systems have

adjustable alley sections, arena panels, a smaller holding pen, adjustable alley gates and alley
frames that can connect directly to a squeeze chute.

Cattle Feeders

These are the equipment needed for cattle feeding. They are a must in feedlot settings and
are highly recommended for ranchers raising grass-fed cattle. In feedlots it is where cattle are
entirely fed; for pasture cattle, it is also needed for giving supplements. The standard plant
protein supplement needed is around 11%. These cattle equipment can be creep feeders, bale
feeders, bull mineral feeders or bunk feeders.

Waterers and Water Tanks

Large livestock need large amounts of water. Surely, everyone agrees that cattle are huge
(or at least, they were supposed to be). That’s why you are going to need water tanks. Waterers
are cattle equipment with trough bowls. Material ranges from galvanized iron to Rubbermaid to
concrete waterers.

Your cattle equipment can help you in raising the herd and keeping the property. In cattle
ranches, the best way to do a chore is with the right equipment.

Manure spreader

If you are going to have any livestock, sooner or later you need a manure spreader. Even
if your animals will spend most of their time on pasture, piles of manure accumulate, and
spreading this manure thinly over the land improves soil fertility, reduces contaminated runoff,
and helps keep fly numbers down.

Several manufacturers have come up with compact manure spreaders that are ideal for
small farms. The tractor-driven units carry more manure in one trip, and are probably the best
way to go if you have a significant number of animals that are kept in the barn regularly. The
ATV units are good for operations with only a few animals stabled regularly, or with a larger
herd that is out on pasture most of the time.

Milking tools

You will definitely need milking tools for your farm. Tools such as milking buckets,
milking machine e.t.c. Also you will need machines for milk value addition e,g yogurt, cream
separator e.t.c

Hand tools

Every farm needs a variety of hand tools. Jua kali men make hand tools that will last for
generations. First on my list of items to purchase: A 25-foot and a 100-foot tape measure; a good
claw hammer with a comfortable grip; electrician’s pliers; a socket and driver set; adjustable
wrenches in several sizes; a screwdriver set with both regular and Phillips head drivers.

Garden tools

Every small farm needs a flat spade and a pointed spade for digging. A good digging fork
is a multipurpose tool, used for breaking up and turning soil in the garden, harvesting, and for
manure cleanup around the barn.

Fencing tools

Farms and fences go hand-in-hand. Plan on purchasing a fence-post driver. A driver is a
heavy iron tube that goes over the top of a T-post, and that has handles on the side. You use it to
pound the post into the ground. A pair of fence pliers is a great, and fairly inexpensive, specialty
tool to have.


We always carry pocket knives when out working, and a Leatherman type is a handy all-
in-one tool. Heavy-duty flashlights are a must when the lights go out during a heavy storm, or
when you need to tend to a livestock emergency in the pasture at 2 am. Garden hoses are a must,
but when buying, purchase the longest and strongest available (fall is a great time to find really
good buys on garden hoses). The good ones come with long-term guarantees (often 25 years or
lifetime), and we save the guarantee card with the receipt stapled to it, because under farm-use
conditions that “lifetime” turns out to be only a few years. The last miscellaneous tool on the list
is a digging bar. Used for digging large rocks out of the garden, construction sites, or fence
holes; and for prying apart incorrigible packages!

Chapter 6

Selecting the best Dairy Cow Breeds

You may be wanting a dairy cow for your own use, such as a family milk cow, or a breed
for a dairy farm you are starting up. Whatever you are doing, there are several dairy breeds out
there that are available for you to choose from, from the most well-known breed (like the
Holstein) to the rare heritage breed (like the Dutch Belted). Find out below on how to choose a
good dairy cow breed for you.

1. Determine the size of cow you want to have.

Breed is a big influence on cow size, and size is a big determinate as to how much feed
you want to spend to give to the animal. The bigger the cow is, the more you have to feed her.

And the more you feed her, the more money you have to spend on feed. In other words, the
bigger the cow, the bigger the feed bill.

Holsteins Friesians are one of the largest breed of dairy cows, and the ones that can be
absolute monsters when it comes to feed. Jerseys are the smallest dairy cow breed, and may be a
little easier on the pocket book.

2. Decide what temperament you want your cows to have.

Can you handle nervous, flighty cows or would rather have the very docile cow that gives
you next to no problems? By comparison, Brown Swiss cows are probably the most docile-
nature dairy cow that any dairy farmer or hobby farmer could ever have. Holsteins tend to be a
bit nervous, and Jerseys can be notorious kickers.

3. Determine how much milk you need or want from that cow.

If you're looking to maximize milk production, Holsteins are the way to go. If you're only
wanting milk for you and your family, you may want to consider a cow that doesn't give as much
milk. Breeds that are dual-purpose (produce both milk and meat) may be ideal, but it's possible
they may not produce enough.

Dexters produce less milk, as do Ayrshires and Guernseys. You may also want a dairy
cow for butter and cheese making. Jerseys and Brown Swiss produce milk higher in butterfat and
protein content, making them ideal for cheese and butter making. Ayrshire and Guernsey are no

4. Choose how much you are willing to spend on a dairy cow.

Dairy cows that have been culled from conventional dairy operations for various reasons
are cheaper, but may be less productive due to mastitis that may have destroyed one or more
quarters, lameness, or inability to breed back. If you are a dairy farmer just starting out, avoid
these cull animals. But as a hobby farmer you may not mind the time, money and feed invested
in rescuing and caring for one or two cull dairy cows.

Breeds that are more popular are going to be cheaper, generally, than those that are rarer
or considered heritage breeds. For instance, a Dutch Belted or Canadienne cow (both dairy
breeds) may be more expensive than a good Holstein heifer that is freshening.

5. Consider what dairy breeds are available in Kenya and are productive in your

You may not be in an area where Holsteins, Jerseys or Brown Swiss are prevalent, but
totally different breeds will be, depending where you're located. What may be considered rare,
nonexistent or extinct in one part of Kenya may be popular or more common in another.

6. Do your research on the breed you've chosen.

It doesn't hurt to know more about the breed or breeds you've decided on to help either
change your mind or confirm your decisions. Look at things like health, breeding ability,
longevity, conformation, fertility, etc. Even briefly looking at the history of the breed may give
you some idea what they'll be like when you finally make your purchase.

7. Find and purchase the cattle.

Once you have located a seller or a place where you can buy some good dairy cattle, then
you're all set. Later in this chapter i will give you contacts of best dairy cattle breeders and sellers
in Kenya.

Breeds of Dairy Cattle

Did you know there are over 800 breeds of cows recognized globally? And even
though there are a large number of cattle breeds, there are only a few breeds that
specialize in milk production.

Dairy cattle are those breeds that produce larger volumes of milk for a longer period of
time than other cows. In Kenya today, there are 6 main breeds of Dairy cattle. The most common
dairy breeds are Holstein Friesian, Ayrshire, Jersey, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, and Milking

Locally, we have other breeds that are reared for milk such as the Sahiwal, Fleckvieh,
Boran and the East African Shorthorn Zebu, which is popular among average smallholder
farmers and pastoralists.

It is always a dream come true for any farmer to have a cow breed that gives high returns.
Such a cow must be of a particular quality breed, suited to an area’s ecological conditions and it
exhibits various superior qualities over other breeds when raised under optimum management.

A farmer- depending on his unique situation or geographic location- may choose cattle
breeds with different characteristics for his herd. These 6 dairy breeds have become common
because they each have some unique characteristics which make them “ideal” in different

1. Holstein-Friesian

When people think about cows, black and white Holsteins usually come to mind. That is
because the Holstein cow is the most popular dairy cow in the world. Most dairy farms milk
Holsteins, since they are the leading milk producers of all the dairy breeds. Holsteins produce the
highest volumes of milk. Interestingly, the Holstein’s spots are like fingerprints, and no two
cows have the same spots. Some Holstein cows possess the red gene making them red and white
instead of black and white.

The Holstein cow originated in the Netherlands and by a misnomer became called
Holstein. They are called Holsteins in the U.S. and Frisians in the rest of the world.

What makes them “Ideal” – Holsteins excel at producing milk, and are the high
performance athletes of cattle. They are unrivaled in terms of milk production volume. Their
calm, relaxed nature make them easy to handle.

A good Holstein Friesian cow should exhibit the following characteristics:

1. Distinctive black and white markings on its coat. The intensity and distribution of the
markings vary from animal to animal. A few cows may, however, be white or red.
2. Mature cows usually weigh about 500 to 650kg and stand 4.8 feet tall at the shoulder.
3. They have short horns
4. They are humpless

Of the six most desired dairy breeds, the Holstein Friesian produces the highest amount
of milk per lactation. A pedigree cow produces between 8,500 and 10,000kg of milk per year.
Good Holstein Friesian cows have been recorded to have had between 12 and 15 lactations.

A Holstein Friesian’s milk also has the lowest butterfat content (2.5 to 3.6 per cent) and
protein (3.2 per cent) when compared with the other five major breeds. These percentages are
important for a consumer population that is getting increasingly aware of what is contained in
their diet.

Some processors also prefer milk with low butterfat and may even offer to pay more for
such milk. Butterfat content is an inheritable trait. Such information about the animal you choose
should be available from the breeder’s records.


Holstein Friesian calves have an average birth weight of 25kg (female) and 30kg (male)
after a gestation period of nine months. They have a fast growth rate and on average calve for the
first time from the age of 26 months.

This guarantees quick returns for the farmer as he doesn’t have to wait for too long before
getting some rewards. The male calves are not only good for breeding but are also valuable for
beef and are powerful draught animals.

Though regarded as adaptable to a wide range of environments, the Holstein Friesian has
presented challenges to many farmers in Kenya.

They do not have good heat tolerance and so do not do well in areas with high
temperatures like lower Eastern Province, the Coast, North Eastern and upper parts of the Rift

They, however, flourish in cool areas of Central Province, Naivasha, Nakuru, Uasin
Gishu, Kisii and western Kenya.

These areas also are mostly green throughout the year, providing adequate pasture for the
heavy-feeding Holstein Friesian (it requires 40 to 70kg of fresh feed daily and 60 litres of clean

They, however, score highly in that they can either zero-graze or graze on controlled

Their shelters should be bedded with sand, straw, or some type of mattress. These need to
changed regularly to ensure high levels of hygiene.

The farmer also needs to be very keen on pest and parasite management as this breed is
highly susceptible to vector-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and trypanosomiasis.

With proper care and the right environmental conditions, the Holstein Friesian’s output is
quite impressive.

Locally, pedigree Holstein Friesian can be obtained from Manera (Delamere Estates) in
Naivasha, Kalro Naivasha, Agricultural Development Corporation Katuke Complex in Kitale,
Kisima Farm in Njoro, University of Nairobi Farm in Kabete and Gicheha Farm in Ruiru, among

2. Ayrshire

Ayrshire cattle are red and white, but the color can vary from orange to dark brown. The
Ayrshire breed is a very rugged and durable breed with many desirable health traits.
Interestingly, Ayrshire are sometimes called Dunlop cattle, and are known as Dunlop cattle in
New Zealand.

The Ayrshire originated in Scotland where they were specially bred with animals being
brought in from the Netherlands. These animals were then exported around the world to many
different locations around the globe.

"Ayrshire cows" are recognized for their skill to change grass into milk competently and
their toughness. The strong points of the Ayrshire cow breeds are the desired attributes of

trouble-free calving and long life. "Ayrshire Cattle" were traditionally recognized as
Cunningham cattle or Dunlop cattle. They were exported to all countries of the world and wide
cattle docks used to subsist at the Cunningham head location for loading and export reasons.


Ayrshire Cow are average-sized cows and the normal grown-up Ayrshire cow has a
maximum body weight, ranging from 990 lbs to 1320 lbs (450 kg to 600 kg). Usually, the male
Ayrshire cows are heavier than the female ones, with the body weight that ranges from 1,400 lbs
to 1,984 lbs (635 kg to 900 kg). The body weight of the female Ayrshire cows ranges from 990
lbs to 1,320 lbs (450 kg to 600 kg). The Ayrshire cow normally contain white and red markings,
even though the red color marking can vary from a shade of orange color to a dark tan.

Ayrshire Cow are strong, rough cows that get used to all administration systems, as well
as cluster handling on dairy farms with milking parlors and free stalls. The Ayrshire cows do
extremely well in udder conformation and are not prone to much of leg and foot problems. These
features make the Ayrshire cows the excellent commercial dairy cattle.

Other attributes that make Ayrshire Cow attractive to the marketable dairyman include
the energetic Ayrshire calves. The Ayrshire cow are physically powerful and trouble-free to
develop. The Ayrshire cow is a reasonable butterfat variety and moderately a high protein cow
variety. Ayrshire Cow, particularly the ones that are native to Finland, are also crossed with the
Holstein cattle breed with the intention of improving the toughness and fertility of the Holstein
breed cattle.

Ayrshire Cow are capable of producing superior quality milk, with the average of 3.9 %
butterfat and with a huge quantity of protein. The Ayrshire cows can produce excellent yields,
and with good administration, it can produce 35-40 litres approximately of milk for each day.
The Ayrshire cow are still renowned for offering high quality milk on forage, and hence they are
an admired breed, suitable for organic farming.


Ayrshire Cow encompass physically powerful individual temperament. The Ayrshire

cows are dynamic and competent grazers, but they are also extremely gentle mannered. Ayrshire
cows are a resilient breed, which are capable of thriving and surviving in warm or cold climatic
conditions. The Ayrshire cows are renowned for their virtual lack of health setbacks. Their fame
as ranch cows is in part because of the effortlessness with which they can be administered.

The average lifespan of an Ayrshire cow is 10 years.

Some Ayrshire Cow Facts

Ayrshire cow can not climb down stairs but it can climb up stairs. It can not climb down
because cows knees do not bend the right way for going down stairs. Ayrshire cows spends
about 5 1/2 to 7 hours every day eating cud (food that has been partly digested and returns from

the first stomach of ruminants to the mouth for more chewing) and about 8 hours on chewing it,
they have one stomach, but for digestion Ayrshire cows have four digestive compartments called
reticulum, rumen, abomasum and omasum.

The cow on average in Kenya can produce about 21,000 lbs (9525 kg) of milk in one
year, that’s about 2,500 gallons (9463 liter) a year, and for the time of its life on earth, a cow can
produce about 200,000 glasses of milk. A 1000 pound cow in a year can make about 10 tons of
manure. Ayrshire cows chew about 50 times per minute. A Cow is considered sacred in the
religion Hindu of India. Ayrshire cows can drink a about a bathtub full of water a day, which is
equivalent to 40 gallons (151.4 Liters)of water a day.

Ayrshire cows can smell something up to 6 miles (9.65 Kilometer) away, they have
superior sense of smell. Cows can hear frequencies higher and lower much better than humans.
Beta carotene found in grass that cows graze on, is where butter gets is natural yellow color. To
make one pound of butter it takes 21.2 pounds (9.6 kg) of whole milk. Ayrshire cows have
panoramic vision they can see in every direction. 101.5°F (38.6°C) is the average cows body
temperature. Ayrshire cows can sleep while standing.

3. Jersey

The amount of Jersey cattle in Kenya is growing rapidly due to their excellent ability to
produce butterfat and protein. The Jersey’s milk has much more butterfat and protein than
Holstein milk, making it better for cheese production. Also Jerseys are very efficient at
converting feed to milk. Jerseys are the smallest dairy breed, and their small stature requires less
energy to maintain normal body functions so they use the extra energy to produce milk. They
also have great character

Jersey cows are interesting creatures, and can be very unique compared to the other dairy
breeds. Even though they are the smallest breed of dairy cattle, it doesn’t keep them from having
some of the biggest personalities.

Here are a few interesting facts about the nature of Jerseys that set them apart from the
other dairy breeds:

1- They hang out in groups

2- They are extremely curious. They like to be in the know about everything

They’re kind of nosey

3- They are the cutest babies

Baby De-calf

4- They can be the leaders of the herd

The herd leaders

5- They like playing with their tongues

6- The Jersey bulls make up for their small size with attitude. They are the meanest bulls

7- They are great moms

8- They have the most stylish eyes

9- Are always the instigators and troublemakers

Jerseys are typically brown, but sometimes can be brown and white. The shade of brown
can vary quite a bit from light tan to almost black. Interestingly, the Jersey cow come from a
small island in the English Channel, between England and France, where they were specially
breed, and isolated from outside influence for over two hundred years.

What makes them “Ideal” – Jerseys produce milk with the highest components
(protein, and butterfat) and their milk is ideal for making cheese. Their small size also makes
them one of the most efficient converters of feed to milk. Their milk production is between 30-
35 litres per day.

4. Brown Swiss

Brown Swiss are the largest of the dairy breeds, and as their name implies usually solid
brown in color. The average Brown Swiss cow weighs about 1,500 lbs. which makes them the
biggest and strongest dairy breed. Their strong stature makes them very resilient, and free of
common cattle problems. Like the Jerseys, Brown Swiss produce milk with large amounts
butterfat and protein.

The Brown Swiss originated in the Alps in Switzerland. The harsh climate in the Alps
demands a special type of cow that can withstand the natural elements. Not surprisingly because

of this, the Brown Swiss are very resilient and can tolerate fluctuating weather – either hot or

What makes them “Ideal” – Brown Swiss are strong, hardy cows. It is this strength and
power that sets them apart from other dairy breeds. Being the biggest dairy breed, their durability
and longevity are great characteristics. Their milk production is between 35-40 litres a day.

5. Guernsey

Guernseys are fawn in color with white spots. The Guernsey breed originated on the Isle
of Guernsey in the English Channel between England and France. Interestingly, the Isle of
Guernsey is near the Isle of Jersey where the Jersey cow originated. The Guernsey breed is a less
popular breed of dairy cow, with a global population fewer than 10,000 animals.

Guernsey Cows are renowned for their special milk which is golden in color. The milks
golden color is due to large amounts of beta-carotene which is a source of Vitamin A. Beta-
carotene has been found to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. Its milk production is
between 25-30 litres a day.

6. Milking Shorthorn

Milking Shorthorn originated in Great Britain from the Shorthorn breed in

Northumberland and Yorkshire in England. Milking Shorthorn are sometimes called Dairy
Shorthorn in various places around the world. Interestingly, Milking Shorthorn have influenced
many different dairy breeds including Swedish Red, Norwegian Red, and the Illawarra breed in

Milking Shorthorn are strong, durable cattle that are known their high levels of fertility,
and grazing efficiency. They also possess many desirable health traits which make them very
versatile for a number of production environments. It produces 25-30 litres of milk a day.

The most profitable Dairy Cow

Which breed of dairy cow can produce the largest volumes of milk? And which breed
will give you the highest amount of milk per kg bodyweight? And the best quality of milk as
measured by butterfat and protein percent? These are questions that are easy to answer and few
will deny that Holsteins and Jerseys will win above challenges.

Much more difficult to answer is the question about the most profitable dairy cow. Under
good management and in temperate climatic zones above mentioned breeds will fully satisfy
their owners. Few of us dairy farmers can provide these close to perfect conditions needed, in
particular when dairying is attempted in parts of Kenya with more challenging climatic and
environmental conditions.

"Malgudo" is pictured below in her 8 lactation on the day her lifetime production
surpassed 70,000 liters of milk. She is a three-way cross with 62,5% Brown Swiss, 25% Sahiwal
and 12,5% Ayrshire blood.

How profitable is a cow that produces record-breaking amounts of milk, but only lasts a
single lactation or two at the most? In my personal opinion the most accurate way to measure &
judge a cow’s true value & adaptability to adverse and challenging conditions is her longevity.
Not only is a long-living cow the most profitable animal for her owner (every cow requires a
minimum productive time to amortize her purchase or rearing costs and highest yields are not
reached prior to her third to fifth lactation), but she is living proof that she can survive (stay
healthy) and thrive (produce and most importantly reproduce) under difficult climatic conditions
(heat stress, drought) and severe disease challenges (the list of tropical cattle diseases is shear

Although purebred dairy cows (in particular Holsteins managed under favorable
environmental and climatic conditions) can achieve comparable production levels, this high level
of productivity can most easily be achieved by crossbreeding.

Practical Crossbreeding

Crossbreeding can be practiced by all and will achieve positive results much faster than
traditional (pedigree) pure breeding systems. Please do not mistake planned and controlled
"crossbreeding" as propagated in this chapter with uncontrolled mating of your cows with any
(no matter which breed) bull of unknown quality, parentage or ancestry. It is the latter which has
brought the idea of crossbreeding bad publicity and made it to be shunned or even seen with
disdain by much of the pure breeding community.

You can start cross breeding with any cow of any breed, but keep in mind that the better
the cow the faster and more noticeable positive results will be. A cow will transmit additional
genetic material to her calf (which is stored extra-nuclear in her egg), so all her offspring will
usually resemble her more than their sire. A calf resulting out of mating a Holstein dam to a
Boran sire will be a much better dairy cow and produce more milk than a calf born to a Boran
dam by a Holstein sire. On the other hand latter will be hardier and exhibit more resistance to
heat stress and disease.

Crossbreeding heifers should be practiced with much care and as a rule only proven easy
calving sires or preferably Jersey bulls should be used on them. Often heterosis will cause
crossbred calves to be born much larger and heavier than calves out of purebred matings.

Only the best quality proven bulls or sires (they don´t necessarily have to be purebred) of
known ancestry should be used, which will be greatly facilitated by using artificial insemination.

Many farmers who practice purebreeding complain of problems in their herds that might
be explained by a certain degree of inbreeding depression, which will appear in any purebred
population over time: High mortality rates in both adults and calves, slow growth, reduced
fertility, high susceptibility to disease and parasites which is often due to reduced resistance and
stress related factors, reduced production & profitability and a greatly reduced number of
lactations. Most of these problems will be reduced or even solved when crossbreeding is
introduced into such herds.

"Sylvia" is also 17 years old and has completed her 12th lactation at over 82,000 liters
lifetime milk production. In her long productive life her daily peak yields exceeded 37 liters per
day and she is due to calve again in November 2016. She is a three way cross of 50% Holstein,
44% Sahiwal and 6% Ayrshire blood.

Small, but still noticeable improvements will be achieved when Finish Ayrshire, Swedish
Red, Red Holstein or MRI semen is used on purebred Ayrshire herds and the resulting offspring
will still have the appearance of purebred Ayrshires. The herd will fully retain its homogeneity
while still profiting from some hybrid-vigor

Greater improvements, which will also cause more diversity (in shape and color) in the
resulting offspring, will be achieved when crossing, for example, Holsteins to Jerseys, Ayrshires
to Brown Swiss, Guernseys to Fleckvieh, etc. Any kind of combinations are possible and are
limited only by your imagination.

The greatest improvements in lifetime profitability can be obtained when purebred Bos
Taurus cows (all European breeds) are crossed to Bos Indicus (Zebu type) sires. There are Bos
Indicus breeds that are specifically selected for milking potential as Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Gir,
and incredible results can be achieved when their best sires are used on high potential European
bred dams.

The resulting offspring are called F1 hybrids and are best mated to a third, unrelated
breed. This kind of crossbreeding is called rotational crossbreeding and can be continued
indefinitely, with any number of breeds incorporated and always the cows should be mated to a
sire of a breed that is least related to their own breeding. For practical reasons seldom more than
three to four breeds are used.

Another approach to retain a good degree of heterosis is to stabilize a crossbred

population into a new synthetic or "composite" breed, which will be further explained in the
following topic.

The Theory behind Crossbreeding

Crossbreeding occurs when males and females of different breeds (or even species) are
mated and the resulting offspring are then called crossbreds or "hybrids".

The hybrid offspring display varying amounts of both breed complementation and
"hybrid vigor" or heterosis which is measured as the performance advantage of crossbreds over
the production average of both their parents. Occasionally, crossbreds will perform even better
than either parent. However heterosis should be measured against the average of the parental

breeds. Heterosis can impact many traits, but is especially useful in improving performance in
lowly heritable traits, such as productivity, fertility, adaptability, vitality and especially

The less favorable for dairy production the environment is, the higher the expression of
above traits will be. In particular Coast and other low lying dry and hot areas are most suitable
for maximizing benefits from crossbreeding.

The greater the genetic difference between the parental breeds the larger and more
dramatic the expression of heterosis will be. Maximum heterosis is therefore found in crosses
between Bos Indicus (Zebu) cattle and Bos Taurus (European origin) cattle because they do not
share any recent common ancestors.

Hybrid and Composite Breeding

While hybrids and composites are both crossbreds, hybrids are generally considered to be
F1 or first crosses of purebred parents and composites are a stable inter-mating population
originating from crossbred parents. Composites usually incorporate a combination of breeds,
each of which contribute a characteristic desirable for good performance or environmental
adaptability and designed to retain heterosis in future generations without crossbreeding and then
being maintained as a purebred. Zebu breeds have contributed to several composites because of
their adaptability to hot climates.

Whereas crossbreeding with the goal to produce hybrids has revolutionized production
systems from crop farming to commercial livestock keeping as in poultry (meat and eggs), pig
keeping and even some beef production systems, science has shown that long-term crossbreeding
of dairy cattle for the sake of utilizing heterosis is very difficult unless the intent is to synthesize
a new breed.

Many breeds that are considered purebreds now are actually composites if you go back
far enough in time. The understanding of genetics involved in crossing breeds of cattle has
progressed enormously in the last 15 years. We now better understand the results of producing
synthetic lines of cattle, which can be maintained on an ongoing basis when interbred, hence
stabilizing new composite breeds. So, composite cattle are a range of new breeds or new lines of
cattle bred specifically to improve hybrid vigor. A planned mating scheme is designed to
combine the desirable traits of two or more breeds into one "package" (or composite).

Although composite breeds do not sustain as high a level of heterosis as F1 hybrids do,
they still offer some heterosis, with the amount depending on the original breed composition. As
more breeds contribute to the composite, retained individual and maternal heterosis increases.

Composite breeds offer the opportunity to use genetic differences among breeds to
achieve and maintain the performance level for such traits as climatic adaptability, growth rate
and mature size, carcass composition, milk production and fertility that is optimum for a wide
range of production environments and market scenarios. Further, composite breeds may provide
herds of any size an opportunity to use heterosis and breed differences simultaneously.

Chapter 7

Construction of Dairy Cow shed

Living place or house of cattle is simply known as cattle housing. Good housing is
required for raising cattle. Because suitable housing is needed for keeping the cattle safe from
storm, rain, sun, hot temperature, excessive cold climate and other adverse weather conditions.
The cattle also need to be kept inside the house if you have not sufficient amount of grazing

Advantages of Adequate Housing:

❖ Increased production of milk.

❖ Better utilization of labour.
❖ Production of higher quality milk and milk products.
❖ Better health of animals.
❖ Decrease in mortality rate of claves.
❖ Proper disease control.
❖ Better care and supervision of animals.
❖ Better productive and reproductive efficiency of animals.
❖ Proper and controlled feeding of animals.
❖ Increasing pride of dairy farmer.
❖ Encouragement to other dairy farmers.

So you must have to make a good house for your animals. You can make cattle housing
or mini dairy farm by using proper plan and your local available facilities. This will ensure more
profit by investing little capital. Do the followings while making house for your cattle.

● The selected place for housing will be higher than other places surrounding the house, so
that you can easily remove rain water and other materials.
● Soil of the selected place will be fertile and enriched with sand and must have to be dry

● Ensure the entrance of sufficient air and light inside the house. Because sunlight helps to
dry the house and help to prevent germs or virus.
● South faced houses are very comfortable for the cattle.
● It will be better if the houses are not surrounded by many trees.
● Don’t let the house to damp anyhow.
● Make a proper drainage system inside the cattle house, so that you can easily remove
excreta and trash. Excreta and trash are suitable place for mosquito, flies and other
parasites or virus and your cattle can get affected by various types of diseases easily.
● You can make a simple cattle house by using bamboo pillar, straw and roof of leaves.
● You can also make the house by using tree pillar and with a roof of tin. In this system,
you have to make a ceiling under the roof to keep the cattle free from hot temperature.
● It will be better, if the houses are surrounded by bamboo or net fence made with strong
● Keep 5 squire miter space per cattle inside the house.
● Keep a separate place for rearing calf.
● Don’t make the floor of the house smooth.
● Always clean the floor and never make it slippery.
● Make the house in such a way so that it become a safe and suitable living place for the
● The height of the house will be about 9 to 10 feet.
● Always keep sufficient amount of drinking water inside the cattle housing system.
● Keep some free space inside the house for freely movement of the animals.
● Try to keep the house dry, neat and clean always.
● Keep the excreta and trash of cattle in a separate place, slightly far from their house.
These materials can be used as fertilizer in the crop field.
● Make proper supply of fresh and clean water inside the cattle housing system. Also
ensure a good water source for washing the cattle, house, equipment etc.

Layout of Dairy Farm

Cattle house are made depending on weather condition, geographical position and
economic condition. Cattle housing design varies from region to region. So there are no proper
cattle housing design which are appropriate for rearing cattle in Kenya. Farmers of different
counties make different types of cattle house which are suitable for them. On an average cattle
house are of two types. Open housing method and fixed cattle housing method.

1. Open Housing Method

In open cattle housing method, cattle are kept inside the house for whole day except
milking and delivery time. But in adverse weather conditions like storm, rain, hot or cold, they
are moved to a safe place. A cattle needs about 3.5 to 7 square meter place in open cattle housing
method. This type of houses are suitable for big sized calf and non milk productive cattle.
Almost all types of animal can be kept in this house. Open housing is suitable for all locations
throughout Kenya. But the design of the house can be different depending on the excessive hot
or cold areas.

2. Fixed Housing Method

In this method the cattle are tied up with rope and the rope obstructed with a pillar or
each cow is in its house cube. Feeding and milking process done in the same place. Try to clean
the house regularly and make the house in such a way which is very comfortable for the cattle.
Fixed cattle house are of two types. One row and two row cattle house.

● One Row Cattle House: This type of houses are suitable for little number of cattle.
Make the house according to the number of your cattle. A cattle needs about 165 cm
standing place, 105 cm side place and 75 cm feeding pot. Make partition with iron pipe to
separate the cattle from one to another. The partition pipe needs to be 90 cm long and 45
cm in height.

● Two Row Cattle House: This type of houses are suitable for commercial cattle farming
business. The animals can be kept in both face to face and opposite to each other system.
In face to face system, cattle are kept in two rows faces to each other. Food pot are kept
between the two cattle row. In this system the cattle need about 5.5 feet standing place
and 3.5 feet place in side. In opposite to each other method, cattle are kept in two rows.
Their mouth faces to outside. Keep about 4 feet place between the two row. In this
method each cattle will require about 5.5 feet place.

Keep the cattle house dry and clean always. Remove the excreta from house frequently.
Do this at least twice a day. If the house become unhealthy and damping, then the cattle will get
affected by various types of diseases easily. So it will be better if you make concrete floor inside
the cattle housing system. Don’t make the floor slippery. Make a drainage system inside the
house to clean the house properly.

Factors of Economic Importance in Planning a Good Layout of Dairy Farm:

1. Topography of the land.

2. Capital availability.
3. Size of herd and level of milk yield.
4. Stock density and feeding policy.
5. Effective supervision of farm operation.
6. Use of labor saving devices.
7. Strength of herd in relation to land under forages.
8. Fodder conservation.
9. Other sources of fodder.
10. Type of farm buildings.

A suitable distribution of 100 acres of land for proper of dairy farm may be made as
(a) Land under Buildings, Paddocks and roads 8 acres
(b) Land under fodder cultivation 80 acres
(c) Land under permanent pasture 8 acres
(d) Land under cash crops 4 acres

Total 100 acres

Types of Building of Dairy Farm

Layout Of Dairy Farm Building

An efficient and effective dairy barn or cow house design is based on the following
a) Cow comfort
b) Labour efficiency, safety and comfort
c) Simple, robust, flexible and expandable
d) Durable, cheap
e) Straight lines
f) Concentration of labour
g) Optimizing and separating flows:

❖ Cow flow (over the day, over the year)

❖ Feed flow
❖ Manure flow
❖ People flow/work flow
❖ Materials flow
❖ Information flow
In view of good animal health care practises, the preferred stable is designed in such a
way that it can accommodate animals of all age groups separately in a free walking area all year

At the same time it must facilitate labour processes e.g. milking, feeding and manure
collection in a safe and efficient manner. It also must provide high cow comfort for optimal milk
production and good ventilation and protection against unfavourable weather conditions (e.g.
heat, rain, wind).

The following functions in the cow house design also need consideration:

a. Cow handling and treatment area

This area is usually closely located to the milking parlour. It is used to single out cows
from the herd for purposes of individual attention, for example hoof trimming, artificial
insemination or veterinary treatments. In this area, an individual treatment box can be located in
which individual animals can be confined for treatment.

At farms that have a dairy herd of more than 60 cows a separate attention area is
recommended, where animals are housed temporarily during a period of time outside their
normally allocated barn space, for the purpose of individual monitoring or treatment ( e.g.
animals with lameness, mastitis or any other conditions that would call for regular attention).

B. Milking parlour

A milking parlour is the location at the farm where cows are generally milked twice a
day. The reason to milk cows at the same location is because this place can be equipped with
stationary milking machinery and a safe and hygienic working environment can be created with
sufficient light and ventilation. From an ergonomics point of view a milking parlour provides a
good position for milkers to work safely and keep a good view at udder level.

C. Milk- and machine room

This is a dedicated area for the reception, cooling and the storage of milk. This is the
place where the dispatch of fresh milk takes place. It is also used to manage the cleaning of
milking equipment, utensils and milk cans. Where applicable this is also the place where the
milk testing equipment is stored. Situated adjacent to the milk room is the machine or equipment
room in which compressors and vacuum equipment are placed.

The heat radiating equipment is physically separated from the cooling equipment. The
cooling equipment is instead located in the milk room to avoid inconsistent flows of (heated) air
and contamination by oils and lubricants.

D. Office and sanitation room

An office is an absolute necessity for proper management and administration. Some of
the management aspects include farm recording, herd fertility and AI, animal health and
veterinary care. Also the (cold) storage of veterinary medicines, artificial insemination utilities
(including bull semen) and spare parts of the milking equipment are kept in the office room. It is
recommended that a sanitation unit be included in close vicinity of the office which houses the
toilet with the washing area and the changing room.

E. Feed storage/handling area

Sufficient space must be allocated for structures to store dairy feed such as:

1. Hay and straw, located near the cattle barns in an open structure that could have the roof
2. Silage bunker silo (maize, grass, sorghum, etc.) located in close vicinity to the cattle
barns, preferably made of reinforced concrete to allow access of tractors and heavy loads
during the silage making operations.
3. Dairy feed concentrates (mixed and as raw materials) are preferably stored in a separate
building. Milling and mixing of concentrate rations takes place at this location.

In selecting the best location on the farm for these feed storage structures, due attention
must be given to easy access of farm machinery e.g. tractors, maize harvesters, feed trailers and
to prevent interference with waste or manure storages/processing lines.

F. Cattle dip/spray area

Frequent spraying (or dipping) of all cattle is necessary to protect them against external
parasites and tick borne diseases, when they have access to pasture. A spray race or dipping pit
can be located in the vicinity of the cattle barns and can be reached preferably through a fenced

G. Drinking water storage tanks

A guaranteed supply of good quality water is important to provide cattle with their daily
water requirement and for cleaning. Rain water catchment may be used to provide part of this,
but will not be sufficient to guarantee sufficient volumes year round. It is advised that the farm
be connected to the county piped water supply system, or sinks a deep-well or borehole.

Water storage tanks with sufficient storage capacity need to be present in the event that
the water supply gets temporally disrupted. As a rule of thumb the water storage capacity should
be equal to a minimum of two day water requirement of the cows plus water needed for cleaning.

H. Electricity supply and power back-up unit

Where an electrical power generator is installed on the farm premises, it is recommended
that the generator be placed in a separate building away from the main farm buildings.

Safety considerations (particularly in relation to fire protection) must be borne in mind

when assigning the location of fuel supply and storage facilities. In case fuel (e.g. diesel) is
stored in an external storage tank, it is recommended that the storage tank be located outside the
power back-up building for safety reasons. At the same time this storage tank may be used to
store fuel for the farm machinery as well (tractors).

The fuel tank needs a concrete slab that will hold any leakages or spoilage from the tank
to prevent contamination of the soil.

I. Manure collection and storage bunker/pit

The handling of cow manure is a very important operation of a dairy farm and requires
much attention. Manure must be collected daily and put in a concrete storage facility or bunker
whose design depends on the volume, usage and destination of the manure. The most common
ways of using manure in rural Kenya are:

❖ Organic fertilizer

Manure is stored over a longer period of time in a concrete pit or bunker, from where it is
distributed periodically to agricultural land as an organic fertilizer. This is the recommended
practice for integrated dairy farms with sufficient land to grow their own fodder. Use is best
made of a manure spreader.

The frequency of manuring the land depends on the soil fertility, demand per crop and
availability of land. The duration of cropping season and rainfall patterns also determine how

much manure needs to be stored over a certain period of time. In Kenyan this period would be
between 3 and 6 months.

❖ Bio-gas

Livestock manure and other organic waste from the farm (e.g. maize stovers) is ideal
feedstock for methane gas production in so called biogas digesters. In Kenya there are several
low cost solutions in the market for such “farm based” bio digesters ranging from Ksh.50,000 to
Ksh.150,000, depending on size and materials used.

The use of these biogas digesters is widespread in dairy farming systems across the
country and the size ranges from 6-20 m3. The biogas is used for domestic and farm purposes,
such as lighting, cooking and heating water for cleaning of the milk tank and the milking
machine. It can also be used to generate electricity, although this requires a considerable extra

The slurry that is accumulated in the biogas digester can be used as an organic fertilizer
for soil improvement and enrichment. For construction of the biogas digester it is recommended
that the farmer contacts a certified biogas contractor. Check out http://africabiogas.org/

Modular Farm Development

Dairy farms develop over time by increasing the number of cows. If properly planned and
implemented, this expansion can bring down the costs per kilo of milk produced at the farm, thus
maintaining a profitable situation and allowing for the benefits of economies of scale. This is of
particular importance when the cost price of milk increases more rapidly than the sales price.

Scaling up the dairy herd size and specialization of farm operations, offer the potential to
realize economies of scales and cost price reduction per unit (cow, litre of milk), thereby
increasing profits. It also usually leads to improved quality of raw milk. A well planned cattle
barn and dairy farm are designed in such way that future expansion becomes easy and cost

Dairy farm growth, in terms of expanding farm structures and facilities, is usually
planned in steps to accommodate the growth of the herd over time. Designing a dairy barn and
dairy farm is however always a tailor made process. Very few investors/dairy farmers have the
same vision or options for developing their dairy farm and some of the parameters that vary case
by case include:

a) The amount of investment capital available

Little investment capital is often a reason for investors to decide to use cheap(er)
materials and very simple type of construction methods. As a result of this, a cow barn is created
that will wear out faster and is often more labour intensive and less comfortable to work in.

It may also compromise on cow comfort which will negatively affect milk production
and profitability. During the upgrading/expansion of the dairy unit, the (sub-standard) buildings
that are in place may need to be fully replaced with new ones, that suit the demands of managing
a larger dairy herd. “Full replacement of buildings” increases the costs of expanding a dairy farm

Some examples of areas of basic decision-making between cheaper and more durable
solutions include:

❖ To opt for a milking-parlour with stands versus an integrated milk-parlour with a

❖ Using wooden fences and other low-cost construction materials versus more
durable materials such as galvanized steel and concrete.
❖ Economize on the size of the cubicles and the height of the cow house at the cost
of cow comfort and ventilation.

b) The size and properties of the area on which the buildings are constructed

The site characteristics, e.g. slopes, size, existing buildings, access to water etc., will to a
large extent determine the farm and the barn design. It may lead to decisions that compromise
the basic principles, for example the principle of straight lines, one entrance/exit, and even own
fodder production versus purchase from outside.

c) The farmer’s vision on use of labour versus mechanisation

If labour is cheap and abundant it is tempting to opt for (unskilled) labour-intensive

solutions rather than mechanisation. This however may compromise basic principles of good
dairy husbandry, cow house design and fodder production. In the modular cow house design
labour efficiency is an important factor.

This is e.g. visible in the design of the milking parlour. A high capacity of the milk
parlour (higher number of milk clusters) reduces the milking time. As a rule of thumb, the
number of cows milked per hour is equal to half the number of clusters. When milk production
increases, milking time also increases.

d) The time frame for development of the dairy farm

Investments that are not yet fully utilized e.g. overcapacity of the milking parlour
contribute to higher fixed or overhead costs. However, with a short time frame between
development steps and a well planned growth strategy based on a modular approach,
“overdesign” at the start (module one) will reduce total investment costs at later stages in the
growth model. In the absence of a modular approach, every expansion of the farm will be a
project on its own with the risk of duplication or replacement of existing structures.

e) Market access of farm products

Efficient management of sales and purchases of farm products (milk, breeding stock) and
farm inputs (e.g. fertilizers, feed) respectively, may reduce the need for storage facilities.

Design of Floors and Cubicles

a.) Flooring

Stalls should be comfortable enough for high lactating cows to lay down at least 12 hours
per day in zero-grazing systems. The most important aspect of a stall is the flooring; this should
be soft and dry. It should also be non-skid to avoid slipping and falling when the cow lies down
or gets up.

The barn plan has deep bedded free stalls. There are stalls without a concrete floor that
are filled up with bedding. By far the best bedding material is sand. Second best, close to sand,
are deep bedding materials such as saw dust, (chopped) straw, rice hulls, dried manure solids and
other dry materials that do not lead to formation of hard lumps when used in the cubicles.

All in all, mattresses and mats are highly inferior to deep bedding materials because they
are expensive, wear off and become harder over time. Rubber mats are usually close to being just
as hard as uncovered concrete. And mattresses and mats need a concrete surface underneath.

Both mattresses and mats need good daily maintenance including use of drying materials such as
saw dust.

Research shows that 5 cm of sawdust should be used on mattresses and at least 10 cm on

mats or concrete.

Cows have problems lying down on hard surfaces. This brings stress and health problems
and as a result a reduced milk production. Mattresses are expensive and do not create a
comfortable resting surface. Deep bedding that is maintained well on a daily base, is far better
for the cows, and will bring more milk and more health

When the stalls are not comfortable the cows will more often lay down elsewhere to rest.
Resting in dirty places brings stress, less milk and higher risks for mastitis and wounds.

b.) Headspace

The second most important aspect is to create sufficient headspace for the cow to swing
her head when she lies down or gets up. The stall or cubicle needs a width of minimal 115 cm for
a 135 cm high cow. Bigger cows need wider stalls.

Optimal dimensions for modern HF cows (700 kg adult weight) is 122cm wide, 255 cm
long, open headspace, neck rail and brisket locator adjustable in position, distance neck rail and
bedding minimal 1.30 cm.

c.) Matching cow sizes with stall dimensions

Cows in the herd and in groups can get bigger, smaller, longer and shorter over time.
Variation in dimensions of animals within a group can have big impact on the use of stalls. When
barns are too small, the large cows will not lay down enough and may lay with their hind parts
outside the stalls.

Diagonally laying down is a clear signal that the resting area is too short, that there is not
enough head space at the front, or that the neck rail is too far backwards. When stalls are too big,
the smaller animals are likely to deposit manure and urine in the stalls.

Therefore, once a year and when indicated, there should be an assessment whether the
cows still fit well in the stalls and whether the stalls are still comfortable enough. When there is
much variation in cow size within a group, one can divide the group into a large- cow and a
small-cow group, and to suit the stall dimensions for each group.


❖ Deep bedding: sand, rice hulls, chopped straw, manure solids.

❖ Fill stalls weekly or minimal once every 14 days.
❖ Keep level of bedding above curb level.
❖ Inspect the stalls minimal 3x a day: remove wet bedding and manure, flatten the


❖ All cows should be able to stand straight with four feet down in a stall. If not,
move the neck rail forward. When there is much variation in cow size in a herd
causing dirty stalls, split the herd in a small-cow group and a large-cow group.
Adjust stall dimensions accordingly.
❖ All cows should be able to lie down straight in a stall. When too many cows lie
diagonally, move brisket locator forward.
❖ Clean out manure and wet bedding from the stall 3-4 times per day.
❖ Ensure that the top 2-3 cm of the last meter of the stall bedding is dry.
❖ Level of bedding should not be lower than the curb. If so, the bedding should be
flattened. When there is not enough bedding for this, bedding should be added.

d). Feed Fence

The feed fence stops cows from stepping into the feed. A self-locking feed fence is used
to catch cows and to fixate them for treatments. The feed fence includes a neck rail (post and rail

Feed fences should be adapted to the dimensions of the cows. If not, the cows will
develop bumps (acquisite bursae) and wounds. A self locking feed fence is a good investment on
farms with 40 or more cows, as it reduces time to catch cows and it facilitates handling of groups
of cows. On farms with fewer cows the benefits are less.

From an economical point of view, farmers with less than 40 cows can choose not to
install self locking feed fences. The only argument, besides price, against putting in place a self
locking feed fence, is that cows can be too big for a certain size feed fence.

A good feed fence never touches the neck of the cow, but stops the animals at the
shoulder. This feed fence matches with cows of almost all sizes. The only issue is with young
calves that might step through it. Neck rails almost always give rise to the development of
shoulder bumps.

Poor practice: Wrongly designed or constructed feed troughs (like the one in the image
above) and feed fences force the animals to perform unwanted behaviour, like standing in the
feed and contaminating it with manure.

E. Bull or Bullock Shed

Safety and ease in handling a comfortable shed protection from weather and a provision
for exercise are the key points while planning accommodation for bulls or bullocks. A bull should
never be kept in confinement particularly on hard floors. Such a confinement without adequate
exercise leads to overgrowth of the hoofs creating difficulty in mounting and loss in the breeding
power of the bull. A loose box with rough cement concrete floor about 15' by 10' in dimensions
having an adequate arrangement of light and ventilation and an entrance 4' in width and 7' in height
will make a comfortable housing for a bull. The shed should have a manger and a water trough.

If possible, the arrangement should be such that water and feed can be served without
actually entering the bull house. The bull should have a free access to an exercise yard provided
with a strong fence or a boundary wall of about 2' in height, i.e., too high for the bull to jump over.
From the bull yard, the bull should be able to view the other animals of the herd so that it does not
feel isolated. The exercise yard should also communicate with a service crate via a swing gate
which saves the use of an attendant to bring the bull to the service crate.


The easy and quick method of cleaning animal house is with liberal use of tap water, proper
lifting and disposes all of dung and used straw bedding, providing drainage, to the animal house
for complete removal of liquid waste and urine. The daily removal of feed and fodder left over in
the manger, reduces the fly nuisance. Periodical cleaning of water through eliminates the growth
of algae, bacterial and viral contamination and thus keeps the animal healthy.

Sanitation in dairy farm

Sanitation is necessary in the dairy farm houses for eliminations of all micro organisms
that are capable of causing disease in the animals. The presence of organisms in the animal shed
contaminates the milk produced thus reducing its self life, milk produced in an unclean
environment is likely to transmit diseases which affect human health: Dry floorings keeps the
houses dry and protects from foot injury. Similarly the presence of flies and other insects in the
dairy farm area are not only , disturbs the animals but also spreads deadly diseases to the animals
egg. Babesiosis, Theileriosis.


Sunlight is the most potent and powerful sanitizer which destroy most of the disease
producing organism. Disinfection of animal sheds means making these free from disease
producing bacteria and is mainly-carried out by sprinkling chemical agents such as bleaching
powder, Iodine and lodophor, sodium carbonate, Washing soda, Slaked Lime (Calcium
hydroxide), Quick Lime (Calcium oxide) and phenol.

a. Bleaching powder

This is also called calcium hypo chloride. It contains upto 39 % available chlorine which
has high disinfecting activity.

B. Iodine and lodophor

This is commercially available as lodophores and contains between 1 and 2 % available

Iodine which is an effective germicide.

C. Sodium carbonate

A hot 4 % solution of washing soda is a powerful disinfectant against many viruses and
certain bacteria.

D. Slaked lime and quick lime

White washing with these agents makes the walls of the sheds and the water troughs free
from bacteria.

E. Phenol

Phenol or carbolic acid is very disinfectants which destroy bacteria as well as fungus.


Insecticides are the substances or preparations used for killing insects. In dairy farms, ticks
usually hide in cracks and crevices of the walls and mangers. Smaller quantities of insecticide
solutions are required for spraying. Liquid insecticides can be applied with a powerful sprayer,
hand sprayer, a sponge or brush; commonly used insecticides are DDT, Gramaxane wettable
powders, malathion, Sevin 50 % emulsifying concentration solutions. These are highly poisonous
and need to be handled carefully and should not come in contact with food material, drinking,
water, milk etc.

Precautions while using disinfection In Insecticide.

● Remove dung and used bedding completely.

● Avoid spilling of dung and used bedding while carrying it out.
● Avoid the use of dirty water in cleaning the sheds.
● Never put the fresh fodder over: the previous day’s left over fodder in the manger.
● Prevent algae to grow in the water troughs
● Use proper concentration of disinfectant / insecticide solutions to avoid any toxic effects
● Avoid of the mat the milking time as milk absorbs these quickly.


● Remove the dung from the floor and urine channel with the help of a shovel and basket
(iron) and transfer it to the wheel - barrow.
● Remove the used bedding and leftovers from the mangers in a similar way.
● Empty the water trough and scrape its sides and bottom with the help of a floor brush.
● Wash the water trough with clean water and white wash it with the help of lime mixture
once a week.
● Scrape the floor with a brush and broom and wash with water.
● Clean and disinfect the splashes of dung on the side walls, railing and stanchions.
● Remove the cobwebs periodically with the help of a wall brush.
● Sprinkle one of the available disinfecting agents in the following concentration.
Bleaching powder should have more than 30% available chlorine. Phenol 1-2% solution.
Washing Soda (4% solution).
● Allow adequate sunlight to enter in to the shed.
● Spray insecticides at regular intervals especially during the rainy season (Fly season).
● Whitewash the walls periodically by mixing insecticides init to eliminate ticks and mites
living in cracks and crevices.

Other Provisions

The animal sheds should have proper facilities for milking barns, calf pens, calving pens
and arrangement for store rooms etc. In each shed, there should be arrangement for feeding
manger, drinking area and loafing area. The shed may be cemented or brick paved, but in any case
it should be easy to clean. The floor should be rough, so that animals will not slip. The drains in
the shed should be shallow and preferably covered with removable tiles. The drain should have a
gradient of 1" for every 10" length. The roof may be of corrugated cement sheet, asbestos or brick
and rafters. Cement concrete roofing is too expensive. Inside the open unpaved area it is always
desirable to plant some good shady trees for excellent protection against direct cold winds and to
keep cool in hot days.

My modern cattle sheds architecture

Personally i do dairy farming at my home in Kisii County. I own 5 dairy cows and 3
calves. Am planning to expand my farm so that i can accommodate 20 cows. As i was searching
for a cattle barn design that is suitable for 20 cows, i came across this design in the above image.

This design was developed by Chandigarh Punjab. Being located in North India, Punjab
experiences very hot and dry winds in summers, cold chilly winds in winters and very hot and
humid climate in monsoon season. The extremes of the climate affect adversely the health of
lactating cattle and their milk yielding capacity. Since the dairy farming has the potential of a
profitable business, it becomes outmost essential to protect the cattle from the vagaries of

Punjab has thus felt the need of such cattle houses which can fulfill this need. Due to
peculiar climatic conditions in the state, it was not feasible to import and adopt some existing
model of cattle house from else where, rather it was required to evolve an exclusive model in

consonance with local conditions. The architect, who himself belongs to a farming community
and well verse with ground realities, was entrusted the job of evolution of suitable model for this.

Top experts from the Punjab State Farmers Commission, Punjab dairy Development
Board, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary Sciences University, (GADVASU), Ludhiana and the
representatives of Progressive Dairy Farmers Association of Punjab were actively involved in the
process. After series of meetings and brain storming sessions with these experts, the architect
was able to evolve a suitable model for the cattle house.

The model was then displayed in a Cattle Fair in GADVASU, Ludhiana for educating
dairy farmers. Number of prototypes of the model was actually constructed at different places for
demonstration and benefit of farmers. A small brochure of the model (in local Punjabi language)
highlighting the salient features and estimates was published and thousands of copies were
distributed free of cost to the farmers for their self help.

Two designs of the Cattle Houses were prepared. One for 20 lactating cows which has
actual capacity of 40 cattle i.e., in addition to 20 lactating cows there is space for 10 pregnant
cows and 10 heifers. Likewise the other design is for half the capacity i.e., for 10 lactating cows

along with 5 pregnant cows and 5 heifers. The design for bigger house has been evolved on the
concept called “face to face”.

In this case there are two linear mangers running parallel to each other and the cattle
stand face to face on both sides in two rows. A 2.15 metre wide brick paved path runs in between
two mangers for easy movement and convenience in putting fodder in the mangers on both sides.
Apart from this, the arrangement facilitates easy inspection of cattle from medical point of view.

Cattle enclosures has been bifurcated in four parts, each earmarked for different category i.e.,
high yield lactating cows, low yield lactating cows, pregnant cows and heifers.

These enclosures have been created with mild steel round pipes for economy and to avoid
sharp edges which could injure the animals. Cows can move freely in their respective enclosures,
sit either in covered or open area depending upon the climatic conditions. Water troughs with
stop valve arrangement have been provided at appropriate locations so that cattle can drink water
whenever they feel like. The enclosures have largely been kept kutcha with sand filling.

Only 4.00 metre wide strip along the manger has been made pucca with brick-on-edge
flooring. A system of automatic showers and high velocity fans has been installed above the
feeding point. This system runs automatically for 3 to 6 minutes at feeding time to bring down
the body temperature of cows by evaporation. The design of the shed has been evolved keeping
in mind the factors like climate control, economy, and easy execution to facilitate self help

Since the high yield cows have their origin in cold European countries, it becomes the
prime concern to protect them from scorching heat of long summers in this region. The height
and depth of the shed has thus been kept deliberately more to achieve cool interiors. Cross
section of the shed affords number of clerestoreys which facilitates adequate cross ventilation.
The hot and light air underneath the ACC sheet roofing gets exhausted upwards through these
vents attracting cool and heavy air from the vegetated surroundings at lower level.

The convection current thus created helps to combat the summer heat significantly. Sheds
are oriented in north and south direction with gable ends on east and west directions. North side
remains cool through out the year, and the high southern sun is effectively cut by roof overhangs.
East side has been left open as the morning sun is always welcome. To cut off the low western
sun, brick-jalli screens have been provided on this side. It is also proposed to plant thick
vegetation on the western side.

The model has the potential of expansion in a linear way depending upon the
requirements of the farmers. These cattle houses have been successfully implemented at number
of places and it is expected /intended that progressive dairy farmers shall follow this model on
their own. With more and more farmers adopting such scientific techniques in dairy farming, it is
sure that Punjab will be heading for another “White Revolution”. The architect feels privileged
to be associated with such a prestigious project and making his own modest contribution to
agriculture through architecture.

Chapter 8

Dairy Cow Nutrition & Feeding

Proper feeding is very important for the success of dairy farming and represents the
highest single variable cost in livestock production. First, a farmer needs to understand the
nutritional requirements of his dairy animals in order to provide the right ration.

High producing cows usually cannot consume adequate feed during early lactation to
meet their energy requirements. The energy deficiency is made-up by converting body fat to

With the exception of vitamins A and D, the other vitamins needed by dairy cows are
generally present in proper amounts in common feedstuff or are manufactured in adequate
quantities by micro-organisms in the rumen.

Legume crops like lucerne are best planted alone but others like desmodium may be
intercropped with crops like Napier.

To maximise milk yields, a cow must be fed on a balanced and adequate ration according
to its requirements.

Feeding dairy cows for efficient production involves supplying five classes of nutrients in
appropriate amounts. In order of descending priority, the nutrients are used for purposes of life
maintenance, growth, reproduction and production.

For instance should a cow on its second month of lactation be indisposed through disease
such that its feeding is impaired for a few weeks, the animal first responds by cutting on milk

Afterwards, the cow fails to show heat signs and if it had been served already, conception
or pregnancy failure follows before it gradually grows thin and eventually dies.

The five classes of nutrients are:

a) Energy

High producing cows usually cannot consume adequate feed during early lactation to
meet their energy requirements. The energy deficiency is made-up by converting body fat to

However, this leads to loss of body weight where the cow could lose as much as 0.7 kilos
per day. This loss should be kept to a minimum to avoid metabolic disturbances.

Bearing in mind that early lactation is the period when peak milk yield is attained, the
farmer therefore needs to feed a dairy cow adequately during the last trimester of pregnancy.

This activity is commonly known as steaming up. The main sources of energy are
provided by carbohydrates and fats. Common sources of carbohydrates include maize, sorghum,
oats and grasses such as Kikuyu, Rhodes, star, brachiaria and Napier.

b) Protein

Proteins constitute approximately 3.2 to 3.5 per cent of milk meaning that a cow
producing 25 litres of milk per day secretes about 800 to 900 grammes of protein daily.

Unlike energy, proteins cannot be mobilised in significant amounts when the requirement
is greater than the demand. Adequate amounts of protein must therefore be supplied daily in
order to avoid depression in milk production.

Protein is an expensive nutrient and giving a cow more than it needs is a waste of money
as protein is not stored in the body but is broken down by microorganisms in the rumen and
excreted as urea. Protein is usually measured using the nitrogen content of the feedstuff, hence
the term crude protein (CP).

Much of the protein is usually first digested by rumen microbes before being availed to
the animal as microbial protein. Dairy rations are balanced mainly on the basis of CP
requirements as it is among the most limiting nutrients.

Depending on milk yield, a lactating dairy cow’s daily ration requires between 14 to 18
per cent CP on dry matter basis. Rich CP sources are legume forages (such as lucerne or

desmodium), plant oil seed meals (such as cotton seed cake, sunflower cake or soyabean) and
animal origin meals (such as fish meal or blood meal).

Non-protein nitrogen sources, such as urea and poultry waste which contains uric acid,
can be used by microorganisms in the rumen to synthesize microbial protein.

However such sources must only be included in small amounts as they can be toxic.
Grains and non-legume forages are somewhat deficient in protein and usually require
supplementation for dairy rations.

Legume crops like lucerne are best planted alone but others like desmodium may be
intercropped with crops like Napier.

c) Minerals

Major minerals not adequately supplied by most feedstuff are calcium, phosphorus,
sodium and chlorine. Most rations will therefore require supplementation with these minerals in
various forms like sodium chloride salt and limestone.

Other minerals such as copper, manganese and selenium are only required in trace
amounts. These trace elements also need to be supplemented to ensure maximum productivity.
Young calves, high-producing cows and pregnant animals have higher mineral requirements.

Mineral deficiency results in conditions such as depressed heat signs, poor conception,
abortion, low milk production, deformed skeletons in young animals and metabolic diseases like
milk fever.

Luckily, mineral premixes containing both major and minor minerals can be bought at
agro-vet stores across the country. However it is wise to source the minerals from reputable
animal feed firms to avoid sub-standard products.

d) Vitamins

With the exception of vitamins A and D, the other vitamins needed by dairy cows are
generally present in proper amounts in common feedstuff or are manufactured in adequate
quantities by micro-organisms in the rumen.

Though rare, deficiencies may occur under certain conditions such as prolonged stress
periods like during illness as well as feeding animals on poor quality roughage or lots of grain.
Vitamin supplements are expensive and hence feeding too much of it may bring economic loss to
the farmer.

e) Water

This is a very important component of feeding. It is required to maintain many body

functions like blood circulation and to produce milk. Water constitutes about 87 per cent of milk
and should be provided at all times without rationing.

High producing cows may drink as much as 200 litres of water daily. Provide water in a
well lit area within 15 metres of the feeding trough. The amount of water consumed at free will
increases with an increase in diet dry matter content and intake, milk yield, environmental
temperature and salt intake.

Groups of feedstuff

Feedstuff can be divided into two groups namely roughages and concentrates. Roughages
include bulky feedstuff relatively high in crude fibre content like fresh grasses, hay and silage.
Good quality roughage is the basis of a high milk production and should be fed to the cow at the
right stage usually around plant flowering.

If possible, a farmer is encouraged to grow them to reduce costs. Kikuyu grass, Rhodes
grass and maize are normally more superior nutritionally compared to Napier which as the only
feedstuff will support less than 10 kg of milk. Napier is best at no more than a metre tall, wilted,
chopped and mixed with good quality legume roughage.

Roughages rich in both energy and crude protein are essential in providing cheap
balanced rations.

Concentrates, on the other hand, contain high proportions of nutrients, less crude fibre
and cost more than roughages. They are products like cotton seed cake, maize bran, maize germ,
fish meal, brewer’s waste and di-calcium phosphate (DCP). These products are usually combined
and mixed in varying ratios to formulate rations like dairy meal for supplementation.

A dairy cow of good genetic potential fed only on quality roughage containing both
energy and protein sources can produce more than 8 litres a day. As a rule of thumb, 1 kilo of
dairy meal is provided for every 1.5 litres of milk above the 8 litres.

A balanced ration should contain between 60 to 70 per cent roughage and between 30 to
40 per cent concentrates.

Ruminant Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy of the Adult

The cow's digestive tract consists of the mouth, esophagus, a complex four-compartment
stomach, small intestine and large intestine. The stomach includes the rumen or paunch,
reticulum or "honeycomb," the omasum or "manyplies," and the abomasum or "true stomach."

The rumen. The rumen (on the left side of the animal) is the largest of four
compartments and is divided into several sacs. It can hold 95 Kgs or more of material, depending
on the size of the cow. Because of its size, the rumen acts as a storage or holding vat for feed. It
is also a fermentation vat. A microbial population in the rumen digests or ferments feed eaten by
the animal. Conditions within the rumen favor the growth of microbes. The rumen absorbs most
of the volatile fatty acids produced from fermentation of feedstuffs by rumen microbes.
Absorption of volatile fatty acids and some other products of digestion is enhanced by a good
blood supply to the walls of the rumen. Tiny projections called papillae increase the surface area
and the absorption capacity of the rumen.
The reticulum. The reticulum is a pouch-like structure in the forward area of the body
cavity. The tissues are arranged in a network resembling a honeycomb. A small fold of tissue lies
between the reticulum and the rumen, but the two are not actually separate compartments.
Collectively they are called the rumino-reticulum. Heavy or dense feed and metal objects eaten
by the cow drop into this compartment. The reticulum lies close to the heart. Nails and other
sharp objects may work into the tissue and cause "hardware disease." If not prevented by a
magnet or corrected by surgery, infection may occur and the animal may die.

The omasum. This globe-shaped structure (also called the "manyplies") contains leaves
of tissue (like pages in a book). The omasum absorbs water and other substances from digestive
contents. Feed material (ingesta) between the leaves will be drier than that found in the other

The abomasum. This is the only compartment (also called the true stomach) with a
glandular lining. Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, needed for the breakdown of feeds,
are secreted into the abomasum. The abomasum is comparable to the stomach of the non-

The small intestine. The small intestine measures about 20 times the length of the
animal. It is composed of three sections: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The small intestine
receives the secretions of the pancreas and the gallbladder, which aid digestion. Most of the
digestive process is completed here, and many nutrients are absorbed through the villi (small
finger-like projections) into the blood and lymphatic systems.

Cecum. The cecum is the large area located at the junction of the small and large
intestine, where some previously undigested fiber may be broken down. The exact significance
of the cecum has not been established.

Large intestine. This is the last segment of the tract through which undigested feedstuffs
pass. Some bacterial digestion of undigested feed occurs, but absorption of water is the primary
digestive activity occurring in the large intestine.

Function of the Digestive Tract

Eructation (belching). Large quantities of gas, mostly carbon dioxide and methane, are
produced in the rumen. Production amounts to 30 to 50 quarts per hour and must be removed;
otherwise bloating occurs. Under normal conditions, distension from gas formation causes the
cow to belch and eliminate the gas.

Rumination. A cow may spend as much as 35 to 40 percent of each day ruminating (cud
chewing). The actual amount of time spent ruminating varies from very little (when grain or
finely ground rations are fed) to several hours (when long hay is fed). Mature cattle spend little
time chewing when eating. During rest periods, feed boluses (cud) are regurgitated for rechewing
to reduce particle size and for resalivation. Feed is more readily digested by rumen microbes as
particle size is reduced.

Motility of the rumen and reticulum. The rumen is always contracting and moving.
Healthy cows will have one to two rumen contractions per minute. The contractions mix the
rumen contents, bring microbes in contact with new feedstuffs, reduce flotation of solids, and
move materials out of the rumen. Lack of or a decrease in frequency of rumen movements is one
way of diagnosing sick animals.

Saliva production. As much as 50 to 80 quarts of saliva can be produced by salivary

glands and added to the rumen each day. Saliva provides liquid for the microbial population,
recirculates nitrogen and minerals, and buffers the rumen. Saliva is the major buffer for helping
to maintain a rumen pH between 6.2 and 6.8 for optimum digestion of forages and feedstuffs.

Vomiting. Cattle rarely vomit. Occasionally certain feeds will induce vomiting. Some
pasture plants, usually weeds, contain alkaloids that can cause this problem. Should this
condition persist, a veterinarian should be consulted.

Digestion of energy feeds in the rumen. Simple and complex carbohydrates (fiber) are
digested by rumen microbes and converted into volatile fatty acids. The volatile fatty acids,
which consist mainly of acetic, propionic, and butyric acids, are the primary energy source for
ruminants. When large amounts of forage are fed, the formation of acetic acid predominates (60
to 70 percent of total) with lesser amounts of propionic (15 to 20 percent) and butyric (5 to 15
percent) acids occurring. However, when grain feeding is increased or when finely ground
forages are fed, the proportion of acetic acid may decrease to 40 percent, while the amount of
propionic acid may increase to 40 percent. Such a change in volatile fatty acid production
generally is associated with a reduction in milk fat test.

Approximately 30 to 50 percent of the cellulose and hemicellulose is digested in the

rumen by the microbial population. Sixty percent or more of the starch is degraded, depending
on the amount fed and how fast ingested materials move through the rumen. Most sugars are 100
percent digested within the rumen.

The volatile fatty acids are absorbed from the rumen into the blood stream and
transported to body tissues, including the udder, where they are used as sources of energy for
maintenance, growth, reproduction, and milk production. The cow derives 50 to 70 percent of its
energy from the volatile fatty acids produced in the rumen.

Protein and nonprotein nitrogen utilization in the rumen. Some of the protein
consumed by the cow escapes breakdown in the rumen. Protein undergoing fermentation is
converted to ammonia, organic acids, amino acids, and other products. Approximately 40 to 75
percent of the natural protein in feed is broken down. The extent of breakdown depends on many
factors including solubility of the protein, resistance to breakdown, rate of feed passage through
the rumen, and others.

Many rumen micro-organisms require ammonia (breakdown product of protein) for

growth and synthesis of microbial protein. Ammonia also may be provided from NPN sources
such as urea, ammonium salts, nitrates, and other compounds. Rumen microbes convert the
ammonia and organic acids into amino acids that are assembled into microbial protein. Excess
ammonia is mostly absorbed from the rumen into the bloodstream, but small amounts may pass
into the lower digestive tract and be absorbed. Feed protein (that escapes breakdown in the
rumen) and microbial protein pass to the abomasum and small intestine for digestion and

Vitamin synthesis. The rumen micro-organisms manufacture all of the B vitamins and
vitamin K. Vitamin synthesis in the rumen is sufficient for growth and maintenance. Under most
conditions, cattle with functioning rumens do not require supplemental B vitamins or vitamin K
in the diet. Niacin (B3) and thiamine (B1) may be needed under stress conditions.

Fat digestion. Most of the digestion and absorption of fat occurs in the small intestine.
Rumen micro-organisms change unsaturated fatty acids to saturated acids through the addition of
hydrogen molecules. Thus, more saturated fat is absorbed by cows than by simple-stomach
animals. Feeding large quantities of unsaturated fatty acids can be toxic to rumen bacteria,
depress fiber digestion, and lower rumen pH.

Calf Digestive System

At birth and during the first few weeks of life, the rumen, reticulum, and omasum are
undeveloped. In contrast to the mature cow, in the calf, the abomasum is the largest compartment
of the stomach. At this stage of life, the rumen is nonfunctional and some feeds digested by the
adult cannot be used by the calf. During nursing or feeding from a bucket, milk bypasses the
rumen via the esophageal groove and passes directly into the abomasum. Reflex action closes the
groove to form a tube-like structure which prevents milk or milk replacer from entering the
rumen. When milk is consumed very rapidly, some may overflow into the rumen.

As long as the calf remains on milk, the rumen remains undeveloped. When calves begin
consuming grain and forage, a microbial population becomes established in the rumen and
reticulum. End products of microbial fermentation are responsible for the development of the
rumen. This occurs as early as 3 weeks of age with most feeding programs. Cud inoculation is
not necessary to initiate rumen development. If grain feeding with or without forage is started
during the first few weeks of life, the rumen will become larger and heavier with papillae
development, and will begin functioning like the adult's when the calf is about 3 months of age.

I will talk more about Calf, Heifer and Pregnant dairy cow feeding and nutrition in
chapter 9: Reproduction & Calf Management. In this chapter i would like to deal with lactating
cows feeding only.

Feeding the Dairy Cow during Lactation

There are main stages in the lactation cycle of the dairy cow:
1. Early lactation (14-100 days)
2. Mid lactation (100 to 200 days)
3. Late lactation (200-305 days)

1. Early lactation
Nutrient Requirements of Dairy Cows in Early-lactation

Early lactation usually refers to the first 100 days of lactation. At the beginning of this
phase, cows will achieve peak milk production (during the second month of lactation for
Holstein Friesian cows), feed intake is lagging and cows are usually losing weight. At the end of
early lactation, peak dry matter will be achieve and no weight losses occurring.

Rations for lactating dairy cows are usually formulated based on protein (e.g. CP) and
energy (e.g. net energy for lactation) requirements. However, to achieve maximum production,
dairy rations should be balanced for effective fiber, non-structural carbohydrates, ruminal
undegraded protein, soluble protein. Dairy rations are usually formulated to maximize microbial
yield and for requirements for ruminal undegraded amino acids.

Body Weight Loss During Early Lactation

During this period milk yield increases more rapidly than dry matter intake (peak
production). The demand for energy is therefore higher than the amount of energy consumed.
Thus the cow mobilizes body reserves and losses weight (negative energy balance).

The genetic potential is usually expressed during this period and the cow will be under
pressure to produce a large amount of milk. However, the cow at this stage has a limited capacity
to ingest the required amount of feed. Thus it is normal for the cow to mobilize body fat during
early lactation. The ability of the dairy cow to mobilize body fats contributed to its genetic
potential (i.e. cows with higher genetic potential will mobilize body fats for a longer period of
time than cows with a lower genetic potential). During this period, the cow could lose as much as
0.7 kg/day.

Monitoring Dry Matter Intake During Early Lactation

Feed intake is the key factor in maintaining high milk production. Cows should be
encouraged to maximize their intake during early lactation. Each additional kg of dry matter
consumed can support 2-2.4 kg more milk. Feed intake by the dairy cow is influenced by many
factors including level of production, forage quantity and quality, feed digestibility, feed
processing, feeding frequency, consistency of ration ingredients etc.

Guidelines for each day dry matter intake (kg) for lactating dairy cows

Time 1st lactation 2nd lactation

Week 1 14 Kg 16 Kg

Week 2 15-16 Kg 19 Kg

Week 3 17 Kg 21 Kg

Week 4 18 Kg 22 Kg

Week 5 18-19 Kg 24 Kg

How to calculate dry matter intake in dairy cows:

The following equation can be used to calculate dry matter intake

DMI (% body weight) = 4.048 – 0.00387 x body weight (kg) + 0.0584 x 4% FCM (kg)

Use the following equation to calculate 4% FCM

0.4 x actual milk yield in kg/day) + 15 x milk fat in kg/day

Maintaining good rumination is essential in early lactation. Thus it is important to feed at

least 40% of the ration dry matter as forage. About half of the forage should have a particle
length of at least 2.6 cm to effectively stimulate chewing. High quality forage should be fed
during this period to improve dry matter intake. Neutral detergent fiber and acid detergent fiber
levels should be set at 28 and 19%, respectively to maximize intake

Major ration changes should be avoided. To avoid any digestive problems (e.g. acidosis,
depressed intake), concentrates should be added gradually at a rate of about 0.5 to 0.7 kg/day for
the first two weeks.

Protein is very critical during early lactation as the amount of body protein that can be
mobilized is very limited compared with body fat. Thus in early lactation, a dietary protein
content of 17-19% is recommended. About 35-30% of dietary protein should be ruminally
undegraded protein while 30% should be soluble protein. A guideline is to feed 0.5 kg of a 34 to
50% protein concentrates for every 5 litres of milk produced above 20 litres of milk.

Other Feeding Strategies for High Producing Cows

1. Cows usually eat after milking. Thus fresh feed should always be available in the feed
bunk immediately to encourage feed consumption. High producing cows will eat up to 12
meals per day, each averages 23 minutes. The best TMR dry matter is between 50-75%.
Wetter or drier rations will limit intake
2. If concentrates are being fed separately from forages, they should be fed several times a
3. Feeds should be available to cows at least 20 hours per day
4. Hay should be fed before grain and / or protein supplement in the morning.
5. Protein supplements should be fed with energy sources and / or feed the energy source
before protein
6. Forage should be checked to make sure it contains enough long fiber.
7. If two forages are being fed, it is preferable to mix them rather than feed them separately.
8. If intakes are below normal begin by checking the non-fiber carbohydrate level, forage
particle size and water quality.

Feeding separately

While total mixed rations (TMR) get a lot of attention, many dairy producers still feed
forage and concentrates separately. The concentrate component is usually fed only once or twice
daily. This results in non-uniform supply of nutrients and inefficiencies of nutrient utilization can
occur. Providing smaller and more frequent meals of concentrates may help stabilizing the rumen
environment. Several management strategies can be used to improve milk production and cow
health in component-fed herds.

❖ Avoid large variation in forage quality

❖ Feed forages frequently and push up feed frequently. This practice helps keep feed fresh
and encourage cows to eat smaller meals more often.
❖ Feed some in the morning before cows have access to concentrates.
❖ Do not feed more than 2.5-3.5 kg of grain per feeding. Limiting the amount of grain fed
at one time lowers the risk of creating acidotic conditions in the rumen due to rapid
breakdown of carbohydrates in the rumen.

❖ Watch Particle size of grain. Finely ground grains breakdown rapidly in the rumen and
can lead to acidosis problems.

Feeding frequency

Increased feeding frequency reduces daily variations in rumen pH and thus helps
stabilizing the rumen environment. The proper range and consistency of ruminal pH is critical in
fiber digestion.

Feeding sequence

Feeding frequency affects rumen function and cow performance. If forage and
concentrates are being fed separately, forages should be fed first in the morning followed by a
portion of the grain mix. Feeding protein (e.g. soybean meal) and carbohydrate (e.g. corn)
supplements together results in higher milk fat percentage than feeding them separately. This is
because rumen microbes require both energy and protein to grow.

Mixing accuracy

A TMR or forage combination must be adequately mixed in order to provide a proper

nutrient balance. When mixing small quantities of specific ingredients (e.g. minerals and
vitamins), it may be more appropriate to include them in a pre-mix where larger quantities can be
added to the ration.

Chemical analysis of the ingredients must be accurate. Chemical analysis of TMR and
calculated analysis of individual feed ingredients will vary, but they should be within a given
range of variations. A comparison between actual and calculated dry matter of the TMR will give
an indication of how ingredients are mixing.
2- Mid-lactation

Mid-lactation period is the period from day 100 to day 200 after calving. By the
beginning of this phase, cows will have achieved peak production (8-10 weeks after calving).
Peak dry matter intake has also occurred with no more weight losses.

Cows should reach maximum dry matter intake no later than 10 weeks after calving. At
this point, cows should be eating at least 4% of their body weight. The cow should be fed a
ration that will maintain peak production as long as possible. For every 2 kg of expected milk
production, large-breed cows should eat at least one kg of dry matter.

The main target during this period is to maintain peak milk productions as long as
possible. For each extra kg of milk at peak production, the average cow will produce 200-225
litres more milk for the entire lactation. Thus the key strategy during mid lactation is to
maximize dry matter intake. During this period the cow should be fed high quality forage
(minimum 40 to 45% of the ration dry matter) and the level of effective fiber should
bemaintained at a level similar to that of early lactation.

Concentrates should not exceed 2.3% of body weight and sources of non-forage fibers
such as beet pulp, distillers grains and cereal bran can replace part of the starch in the ration to
maintain a healthy rumen environment. Protein requirements during mid lactation are lower than
in early lactation. Therefore rations for dairy cows in mid-lactation should contain 15-17% crude

During this period the cow should be bred to initiate a new pregnancy (60-70 days after

3- Late-lactation
This phase may begin 200 days after calving and end when the cow dries off. During this
period, milk yield continues to decline and so does feed intake. However, the intake easily
matches milk yield. The cow also gains weight during this period to replenish the adipose tissue
lost during early lactation.

However, as lactation approaches an end, more of the increase in body weight is due to
the increased size of the growing fetus. Sources of protein and energy are not very critical during
this period. Cheap rations can be formulated with non-protein nitrogen and a source of readily
fermentable carbohydrates such as molasses. Nutrient requirements for dairy cows in late
lactation are as shown in the table below:

Nutrient guidelines for lactating dairy cows.


Early Mid Late

Lactation Lactation Lactation

Average milk yield (litres per day) 40 30 30

Dry matter intake (kgs per day) 24-26 21-23 11-12

Crude protein (% DM) 17-19 15-16 13-15

Ruminal undegraded protein (% CP) 35-40 30-35 25

Soluble protein (% CP) 25-33 25-36 25-40

Neutral detergent fiber (% DM) 30-34 30-38 33-43

Acid detergent fiber (% DM) 19-21 19-23 22-26

Effective fiber (% NDF) 25 25 25

Net energy for lactation (Mcal/kg) 1.64 1.57 1.5

Non-fiber carbohydrates (% DM) 30-42 30-44 30-45

Total digestible nutrients (% DM) 72-74 69-71 66-68

Fat (maximum in DM) 5-6 4-6 3-5

Calcium (% DM) 0.8-1.1 0.8-1.0 0.7-0.9

Phosphorus (% DM) 0.5-0.9 0.4-0.8 0.4-0.7

Potassium (% DM) 0.9-1.4 0.9-1.3 0.9-1.3

Sodium (% DM) 0.2-0.45 0.2-0.45 0.18-0.45

Chlorine (% DM) 0.25-0.30 0.25-0.30 0.25-30

Sulfur (% DM) 0.22-0.24 0.20-0.24 0.20-0.22

Cobalt (mg/kg DM) 0.2-0.3 0.2-0.3 0.2-0.3

Copper (mg/kg DM) 15-30 15-30 12-30

Manganese (mg/kg DM) 60 60 50

Zinc (mg/kg DM) 80 80 70

Iodine (mg/kg DM) 0.8-1.4 0.6-1.4 0.6-1.2

Iron (mg/kg DM) 100 75-100 50-100

Selenium (mg/kg DM) 0.3 0.3 0.3

Vitamin A (1000 IU/day) 100-200 100-200 100-200

Vitamin D (1000 IU/day) 20-30 20-30 20-30

Vitamin E (IU/day) 600-800 400-600 400-600

What I give my cow to get 40 litres of milk a day

Mr Charles Njoroge, a dairy farmer in Mukurweini gets ready to milk one of his cows.
He preserves animal feeds with modern methods to ensure constant milk production in all

In Summary

● Out of the 210 litres of milk he gets a day, he uses 60 litres to feed the calves, 30 litres is
converted into yoghurt while he sells the rest to traders.
● “I milk the cows three times a day, but there are some that produce milk up to four
times,” he tells us, momentarily turning away from his work.

Clad in a green overcoat and carrying a milk bucket in his right hand, Charles Njoroge
marches confidently to his cow pen. It’s about 4pm and the farmer just heard his cows’ loud moo
— a sign that they should be milked.

Njoroge puts down the bucket, moves one of the cows to the milking pen and occupies a
stool beside it. He washes the cow’s udder with warm disinfected water followed by his hands,
which he dries on a small towel.

He starts milking the cow as nine others await their turn.

“Today I am alone. I have to milk all the nine cows by myself. Usually, I have an
employee who helps me milk.”

Njoroge keeps 15 Friesian cows, five of them calves, on his 1.6-acre farm in Mukurweini,
Nyeri County. He gets 210 litres of milk from nine of his cows every day. Four of the cows
produce 40 litres a day because they just recently calved, while the others give between 20 and
30 litres.

“I milk the cows three times a day, but there are some that produce milk up to four
times,” he tells us, momentarily turning away from his work.

Rich source of food

So what is his secret, given many farmers complain they buy cows with promise, only to
milk far less than they expect?

“The secret lies in maize. I plant maize on my farm for use as animal feed.”

Green maize plants, together with the cobs, according to Njoroge, are a rich food source
of food for dairy cows.

“I plant the maize and once it matures, I harvest and cut it into pieces to make silage,” he
says, adding that fermenting the maize helps to increase nutrients, which translates to more milk.

Besides the maize, Njoroge has planted Calliandra and Tricandra, plants that are rich in

“I mix the plants’ leaves with grass, which is good in fibre and feed the animals after I
have given them maize stocks. This helps in milk production,” says Njoroge, who is a livestock
officer with Nyeri County government.

He further buys phosphorous and calcium supplements to feed the animals.

“Feeds are very important for dairy animals if one is to get good milk. This helps to
reduce the chances of animals getting diseases and ensures they remain healthy.”

To breed the cows, he uses artificial insemination, which guarantees him quality animals.

“With my knowledge in agriculture, I am able to identify the best bull, whose semen I use
to serve my cows.”

He tracks the lineage of every of his cows after insemination.

“Keeping the lineage helps me to ensure I avoid overusing the semen from a particular

Out of the 210 litres of milk he gets a day, he uses 60 litres to feed the calves, 30 litres is
converted into yoghurt while he sells the rest to traders.
Njoroge says feeding the calves with milk helps in growth.

“It ensures the calves do not miss on important antigens and antibodies contained in their
mother’s milk to fight diseases.” he says. “Feeding the cows in the first six weeks results in
improved weight.”

He sells a litre of milk at between Sh35 and Sh40 while a litre of yoghurt, goes for
Sh.100, bringing the total of his sales from milk to Sh.7,000 a day.

“I started making yoghurt because there are so many people who sell milk around, thus,
prices are always low. I package the milk in different sizes.

Good money

“Yoghurt is earning me good money than fresh milk,” says Njoroge, who sells the milk at
shops in Nyeri Town and Githurai in Nairobi, where his eldest son runs the outlet.

Njoroge went into farming about five years ago to lead by example.

“Here I was, teaching farmers the best agricultural practices but I was growing maize
only. I used to find this odd. I then made up my mind to go into dairy farming so that I can get
practical tips that I can offer farmers,” says Njoroge, who used his savings to start the business.

And nothing at his farm goes to waste. He uses a biogas recycling system that produces
the gas that he uses at his home for cooking and lighting.

The sludge from the biogas system is used to boost the fertility of his maize, banana and
capsicum plots.

He advises livestock farmers to use modern methods to increase productivity.

But it is not an easy ride for Njoroge who spends about Sh.20,000 a month on
supplements like dairy meal to maintain the high milk production.

Inseminating the cows artificially also comes with a challenge.

“Identifying the best semen from the best bull in the market is difficult. It requires a lot of
research because if you err, you end up with what you do not need.”

Doris Wambui, a livestock expert at Wambugu Agricultural Training Centre in Nyeri,

says dairy farmers should be keen on what they feed their animals.

“Fresh grass contains little nutrients. Napier grass, like fermented green maize plants, is
rich in nutrients. Farmers who cannot get enough maize plants should chop Napier grass into
small pieces for the cow. Fermented silage reduces the amount of energy a cow can spend in
producing milk,” the expert told Seeds of Gold.

For mineral concentrates, she recommends maize germ meal, wheat bran, wheat pollard,
rice bran, maize bran and molasses.

Wambui notes that it is important for calves to be fed on milk during the first six weeks
to enhance growth.

“As calves keeps growing, the amount of milk they are fed on should be reduced so that
they can start eating grass. This helps them adapt to new feeds easily.”

Guide to making nutritious silage for your animals

The silage pit should be located at a place safe from rodents and away from direct

In Summary

● Fodder used to make silage should have a moisture content of 60 to 70 per cent or dry
matter in the range of 30 to 35 per cent.

Silage and hay are preserved feeds that come in handy for dairy cows during periods of
scarcity of green forage.

The process of making silage involves fermentation under anaerobic conditions. It

prevents fresh fodder from decomposing and allows it to keep its nutrient quality.

It requires sufficient soluble carbohydrates (sugars) for organic acid production. Adding
molasses to the fodder is recommended since it is rich in sugar, which enables the bacteria to
produce the organic acids immediately.

The more molasses you add, the faster the acidification and preservation process will

Why feed your cows on silage?

Silage ensures high milk production and healthy dairy animals, especially during dry
seasons. It is palatable, laxative, digestible, nutritious and requires less floor area for storage than

Silage preparation

Silage is produced through use of pits or trenches, towers and sacks for small quantities.
However, pits are mostly used to prepare silage for large dairy units.

The silage pit should be located at a place safe from rodents, away from direct sunlight
and with higher elevation or slightly sloppy to avoid rain water entering into the facility.

The ideal materials used in silage making should have a moisture content of 60 to 70 per
cent or dry matter in the range of 30 to 35 per cent (tested by taking a small bundle of the fodder
and wringing with two hands and if no moisture comes out, it is ready to ensile) and a pH below
4.2 for wet forage and below 4.8 for wilted forage. In rainy periods when the fodder is too wet,
containing more than 70 per cent water, it is advisable to wilt it in the sun first.

Crops such as maize, sorghum, oats, pearl millet, and napier grass are very suitable for
ensiling (preserve green fodder).

They contain fermentable carbohydrates (sugar) necessary for bacteria to produce

sufficient organic acid that acts as a preservative.

Though leguminous fodders can also be used, they are rich in proteins and low in sugars
making them a bit difficult to ensile.

Harvesting maize or sorghum for making silage is ideal when their seeds are soft but not
milky when squeezed open.

Napier grass, on the other hand, needs to be about a metre high while legumes should
have young pods, which are not dry.

Apart from molasses, other additives like common salt, formic acid, lime or urea can also
be used to enable good fermentation process.

To start, prepare the pit and then place a big polythene sheet on the floor and walls.
Cover about a metre of walls so that the forage does not come into contact with soil.

Chop the fresh forage to lengths of about one inch using either a panga or a chaff cutter.
Prepare the first layer by emptying the chopped materials into the plastic lined pit to
approximately 15cm high, and spread evenly.

Fungi growth

Then dilute molasses with water at a ratio of about 1:2 and sprinkle evenly over the
forage layer using a garden water sprayer.

Compact the layer by trampling on it using clean boots to force out as much air as
possible. This will prevent fungi growth and spoilage.

Repeat this process of adding bags of chopped forage, diluted molasses while compacting
to expel maximum air out of the material until the pit gets filled in a doom shape.

After the final filling and compacting, wrap the polythene sheet around the silage and
cover the top of the heap with a second sheet to prevent water from running into the silage.

Finally cover the heap with a thick layer of soil of at least 2ft giving special attention to
the edges first as you come towards the middle to keep the air out and to prevent damage of the
polythene by rain, birds and rodents.

With good sheeting and enough soil on it, the silage can be kept for more than one year.

Opening the silage pit

It takes about 30 to 40 days for the silage to mature and be ready for feeding. Never open
the whole silage pit at once.

Only one end of the narrow side should be opened a bit. Remove enough material for
each day’s feeding and cover again. This way air is prevented from entering the silage.

However, once the pit is opened, use the silage as quickly as possible.
Silage quality

Silage can be classified as good quality depending on its physical characteristics like
taste, smell, and colour but more precisely by measuring the pH in the pit.

A pH of 3.5 to 4.2 indicates excellent fresh acidic/sweetish silage, 4.2 to 4.5 for good
acidic, 4.5 to 5.0 fair less acidic and above 5.0 for poor pungent/rancid smelling silage.

Good silage should be light greenish or greenish brown or golden in colour. It should
have a pleasant smell like that of vinegar, and acidic in taste, and should not contain mould.

Black indicates poor silage. Overheated silage has the smell of burnt sugar and dry in
texture. Badly fermented silage has offensive taste, strong smell, slimy soft texture when rubbed
from the fibre or leaf.

Feeding cows with silage

A dairy cow is fed depending on the body weight or generally be given about 6kg to 15kg
of silage per day. It is advisable not to feed silage immediately before or during milking
especially when the quality is poor as the milk can easily take the smell of the feeds. During
these times, a cow can be fed fresh grass, hay, legumes and concentrates.

After feeding silage, the bunks and corners of the feeding troughs should be cleaned
immediately to prevent contamination.

Grow fodder in six days and feed cows on the seventh

Mr Charles Ndegwa tends to his hydroponics crops at his farm in Kiambu.

In Summary

● I took my time to look for alternative methods that farmers in developed countries use to
feed their animals during droughts. What do they do differently to increase and sustain
milk, meat and egg production without increasing costs? I asked myself.
● In Australia, I discovered, they started using hydroponic fodder in 1940s. By the 1970s,
other countries like India, Canada, America and South Africa had adopted it to feed their
● Hydroponics is a fusion of the old and the new. It was practised in older civilisations in
Egypt, Mexico and China. However, it has been under constant research and
improvement over the years.

My name is Charles Ndegwa. I had chosen a training path that would have ended in a
career in radio frequency engineering. As matter of fact, pursuit for training in engineering had
taken me to distant Finland.

It didn’t quite turn out that way for me and today I’m a researcher in hydroponic
technologies all geared towards making the lives of farmers more profitable and easier.

Hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture, is a method of growing plants using mineral

nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.

But there is a good reason for this shift in my career path. I’m very much my father’s son.
I spent many years at the feet of my late father, Charles Ndegwa, the National Agricultural
Research Laboratories/Kari researcher who engineered the nationally acclaimed 614 maize seed.

From my father, I learnt the importance of research as a means to greater food

production, greater returns and higher standards of living.

After working in the ICT industry for a while, I got a job at Agrotunnel International Ltd
as a researcher. A few years ago, one of the directors at Agrotunnel, Faridah Marete, attended an
agribusiness course at USIU sponsored by Melinda Gates.

The course exposed to her the pain of dairy farmers who struggled to increase production
without reducing their profit margins. She saw a business opportunity and challenged me to find
a solution to farmers’ fodder problems.

I took my time to look for alternative methods that farmers in developed countries use to
feed their animals during droughts. What do they do differently to increase and sustain milk,
meat and egg production without increasing costs? I asked myself.

In Australia, I discovered, they started using hydroponic fodder in 1940s. By the 1970s,
other countries like India, Canada, America and South Africa had adopted it to feed their
Farmers in those countries have increased milk and meat production and also slashed
their production costs. Hydroponics require only water and grain. No fertilizers are used.

I was convinced that hydroponics is what we were looking for. To effectively venture
into this line of work and research, we formed Fodder Grow as a subsidiary of Agrotunnel
International. We brought together five directors.

Hydroponics allows farmers to grow fodder in a record six days. It drastically reduces the
time a farmer spends looking for fodder and increases milk production. It is ideal for small and
large-scale farmers. It is also important in rearing chickens.


Hydroponics is a fusion of the old and the new. It was practised in older civilisations in
Egypt, Mexico and China. However, it has been under constant research and improvement over
the years.

Cereals such as sorghum, rice, maize and sim sim are some the mostly commonly used
seed for hydroponic productions. Under proper production guidelines, the fodder matures in just
six days — hence giving the farmer easy access to animal feed.

On day one, for instance, dry barley grains come in contact with water in trays and
swells. On day two, the grain bursts and roots sprout followed by a shoot on day three. On day
four, the shoot continues to grow and at this stage, this fodder can be fed to chickens. The green
fodder grows further on day five and six and on day seven, it can be fed to livestock.

The most suitable material for hydroponics is aluminium trays. Some small-scale farmer
have been improvising and using such materials as cold galvanised steel trays or greenhouse

What many forget or don’t know is that galvanised iron rusts when it comes into contact
with water. This poses several health hazards when consumed by animals. Polythene is also a
breeding ground for mould and consequently, aflatoxin which can kill animals. Aflatoxin-
contaminated milk and meat are also toxic to humans.

At a cost of Sh.100,000, we can put up a unit capable of producing 50kgs of fodder a day.
This is enough to feed five cows on a small holding. We can use local materials to make a small
unit to produce 20kg of fodder at a cost of Sh.50,000.

We have put up units in Nakuru, Kajiado and Kiambu counties. The unit in Kiambu
produces a tonne of fodder a day while the one in Nakuru produces three tonnes a day, which is
enough to feed 300 cows.

Through Agrotunnel International, we have now working with Egerton and Makerere
universities to equip farmers with the skills for fodder production. We have trained farmers and
government officials from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria and Ethiopia.

We are currently recruiting for fodder production training in South Africa before the end
of November.

To learn more on hydroponic fodder preparation contact Hydroponics Kenya

P.O BOX 43031
Zambezi, Kikuyu, Nairobi
Sales and informations call +254722956647 or +254703286763
Their website http://hydroponicskenya.com

Planning is important for profitable dairy business

Keeping dairy cows depends on a farmer‘s knowledge and planning. Dairy farming is a
viable business, which needs enough resources and capital. These include; adequate land for
keeping the desired number of animals and for growing the required fodder, legumes, or grasses
to feed the animals.

Farmers must also plan for animal feed requirements during the dry season. Farmers
should prepare silage from the excess fodder and preserve it during the rainy season so that it can
be fed to the animals during the dry season. Also farmers can learn how to prepare feeds through
Hydrophonic to cut down feed cost.

The farmer should also budget well to ensure there is enough money to buy concentrates,
mineral licks, vitamins and drugs to maintain the animal's‘ health.

Before starting a dairy farming venture, farmers should have adequate skills on dairy cow
management which they can get by visiting successful dairy farmers or working with livestock
extension personnel. This helps them avoid costly mistakes that can lead to failure and even
losses. If well managed, dairy farming is one of the most profitable ventures in farming.

In organic farming, feeding should be mainly based on the fodder produced on the farm
itself. Furthermore, organic dairy farming management demands that the animals have sufficient
freedom to move around and exercise their natural behaviour. That is why landless animal
husbandry where animals do not have enough space for movement and rest is not permitted. It
affects the animal's health and creates stress.

Chapter 9

Reproduction & Calf Management

On a dairy farm, one of the most rewarding events is the birth of a healthy calf. Each calf
is the result of almost a year’s worth of planning and preparation. Careful consideration has gone
into sire selection, breeding and caring for the cow as she carried the calf to birth. In this chapter,
you’ll learn about the reproductive cycle of a dairy cow, from breeding to calving, and will gain
a better understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the cow and bull.

Anatomy is the study of the structure and relationship between body parts. Physiology is
the study of the function of body parts and the body as a whole.

Female Reproductive Tract

The structure of a cow’s reproductive tract is very similar to that of a human’s. Working
from the outside to the inside, the reproductive tract of a cow is composed of the vulva, vagina,
cervix, uterus, two uterine horns, two oviducts and two ovaries, all attached by a series of
flexible ligaments. The rectum is located above the reproductive system and the bladder is found

Reproductive Tract Of Cow — Side View

The vulva is the only part of the tract that can be seen outside the cow and is the vaginal
opening. It offers protection to the entrance of the internal part of the reproductive system and
houses the urethra, from which urine exits the body. Immediately inside the vulva is the first
internal part called the vagina. This is an open channel about six inches in length and where
semen is deposited when a cow is bred naturally by a bull. The vagina serves as the birth canal at

The cervix is a narrow tube made up of dense connective tissue, which connects the
vagina and uterus. It is a primary landmark when inseminating cattle. The inner surface of the
cervix has many folds which acts as a physical barrier and protects the uterus from any foreign
material or bacteria during pregnancy. The reproductive tract separates from the uterine body,
where all further structures come in pairs.

The uterus consists of a body and two horns. The main function of the uterus is to
provide an appropriate environment for fetal development. In a non-pregnant state, it extends
less than two inches before it divides into two long separate uterine horns, which mirror each
other. When a cow is artificially inseminated, this is where semen should be deposited.

The oviducts, also known as fallopian tubes, are located at the end of each uterine horn.
These small channels carry the cow’s eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. The ovaries extend
just beyond the oviducts, whose function is to store eggs and produce hormones. Each ovary is
about the size of a half ten shillings coin, but size varies greatly depending on the stage of the
estrous cycle or gestation.

On the surface of the ovaries, you can find two predominant structures known as follicles
and corpus luteums (CLs). Follicles are the fluid-filled, blister-like structures that contain the
developing egg. An ovary can often have several follicles on it which vary in size. The largest
one is often called the dominant follicle and typically will rupture during ovulation, releasing the

A corpus luteum (CL) develops after the follicle ruptures and is ovulated. CL is Latin
for “yellow body.” While the outside of this structure is usually dark red in appearance, a cross
section reveals a bright yellow interior. The CL develops as a dense cellular mass that protrudes
from the ovary’s surface. If the egg is not successfully fertilized, the cow will not become
pregnant and the CL will degenerate and then the cycle repeats itself.

Male Reproductive Tract

Bulls become fertile at about seven months of age. The reproductive tract of the bull
consists of the testicles, secondary sex organs, and accessory sex glands.

Reproductive Tract Of Bull

These organs work together to form, mature and transport sperm, which is eventually
deposited in the female reproductive tract. The secondary sex organs are the epididymis, vas
deferens and penis. The accessory sex glands include the seminal vesicles, prostate and
bulbourethral gland, also called the Cowper’s gland.

Two testicles are located outside the body cavity in an external sac called the scrotum.
Their function is to produce sperm and testosterone. The scrotum provides protection to the

testicle and regulates the temperature for optimum sperm development. The location of the
testicles exterior to the body cavity is essential for sperm formation, which occurs at four to five
degrees below body temperature.

Measuring scrotal circumference is a simple way to evaluate fertility. The testicle has
many long, tiny, coiled tubes within which the sperm are formed and begin to mature.
Testosterone is produced by specialized cells that are in the loose connective tissue surrounding
the testicles. Sperm accumulate and mature within the epididymis.

The epididymis is the outlet for all sperm produced in the testicle. Its compact, flat,
elongated structure is attached to one side of the testicle which is divided into the head, body and
tail. The tubules that enter the head of the epididymis from the testicle unite to form a single
tubule, 130 to 160 feet in length. This complex tubule is packed into the six to eight inch
epididymis. Sperm pass through the epididymis into larger tubes called the vas deferens.

The vas deferens appears from the tail of the epididymis as a straight tubule and passes
as part of the spermatic cord through the inguinal ring into the body cavity. Sperm are
transported along the reproductive tract to the pelvic region through the vas deferens by
contraction of the smooth muscle tissue surrounding this tubule during ejaculation.

The vas deferens unites into a single tube called the urethra. This is the channel that
passes through the penis. The urethra is the passageway for semen and urine. Two accessory
glands are found in the area where the vas deferens becomes the urethra. Secretions from these
glands make up the liquid portion of semen. These seminal vesicles consist of two lobes about
four to five inches long, each connected to the urethra by a duct. The prostate gland is located at
the neck of the urinary bladder where it empties into the urethra. The third accessories are the
Cowper’s glands, located on either side of the urethra. These glands flush and cleanse the urethra
of any urine residue that may be harmful to sperm.

The penis is the organ of insemination. The penis is held inside a sheath, except during
service. Retractor muscles hold the penis in an S-shaped curve. Spongy material within the penis
is filled with blood during sexual arousal which results in erection of the organ discharging
semen. Semen consists of sperm and fluids.

Estrous Cycle

Recurring changes in hormone levels trigger a series of events within the cow’s
reproductive system. From the time a heifer reaches puberty until she becomes pregnant, this
cycle repeats every 18 to 21 days, or up to 23 days in lactating dairy cows. This is known as the
estrous cycle/ovulation.

The cycle begins on Day 0, when a cow is in estrus, also known as standing heat. At this
time, one ovary has a dominant, large follicle with an egg inside that is ready to be released or
ovulated. The cells lining the follicle produce the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is responsible for
all visible signs of heat. It enters the cow’s bloodstream, making the uterus more sensitive to
stimulation and aiding in semen transport, causing the cervix to secrete mucus lubricating the

On Day 1, the follicle ruptures and releases the egg. This is called ovulation. As the
estrogen level decreases, the cow stops showing signs of heat. Over the next five to six days, the
corpus luteum (CL) forms at the site where the egg was released from the ovary, producing

Over the next several days, progesterone prepares the uterus for pregnancy. It prevents
the cow from returning to estrus by regulating the release of hormones by her brain. Follicle
stimulating hormone (FSH) stimulates the growth of small follicles. Luteinizing hormone
(LH) supports progesterone production by the CL and stimulates estrogen production in large
follicles. Progesterone’s regulation of FSH and LH is critical to maintaining pregnancy.

During days 16-18, the uterus searches itself for the presence of a growing embryo. If no
embryo is detected the uterus produces prostaglandin. Prostaglandin destroys the CL so no
more progesterone is released. The production of prostaglandin triggers increased secretion of
LH, stimulates the dominant follicle to produce estrogen and brings the cow back into heat.

The estrous cycle can be divided into two phases. The luteal phase starts at day five to
six and ends at day 17-19. During this phase, progesterone levels are high, and estrogen levels
are low. The follicular phase occurs during the days surrounding estrus, when estrogen levels
are high and progesterone levels are low.

Heat Detection

The most reliable sign that a cow is in heat is when she stands to be mounted. This is
when a cow will allow another cow to mount them for an average of four to six seconds at a
time. You should base the timing of insemination on when you observe standing heat. This is the
primary sign of heat and determines time of insemination since ovulation occurs 25 to 30 hours
after an animal first stands to be mounted. Additional signs to look for when determining if a
cow is in heat include:

❖ Roughed up hair on tailhead or rump

❖ Vocalization such as bawling
❖ Erect ears
❖ Cows head resting on another cow’s back or loin

❖ Smelling other cows and licking

❖ Clear mucus discharge coming from the vulva
❖ Moistness and redness of vulva
❖ Frequent urination
❖ Decreased milk production
❖ Decreased appetite
❖ Mounting other cows
❖ Unusually friendly
❖ Restless activity

Careful monitoring of your herd will allow you to observe when a cow is in heat so you
can breed her accordingly. As a rule, watch cows for 20 to 30 minutes at a time in the early
morning, noon and late evening. This practice will let you observe more than 90 percent of heats.

Cows typically will not exhibit as many signs of heat during feeding, milking time and
during heat and cold stress. Cows will often show more signs of heat on pasture or dirt surfaces.
Watch cows closely within the first 30 minutes of being turned out to pasture or the exercise lot.

Other heat detection aids are available that can help dairymen with their heat detection.
Pressure-sensitive heat mount detectors are applied with glue and placed on the rump between
the hip and pin bones. These small devices are activated after four to five seconds of continuous
pressure such as a cow mounting another cow’s rump. The pressure causes the detector to change
colors so dairymen can identify cows that have been ridden and are likely in standing heat.

Tailhead chalk or paint is applied to a cow’s tailhead, in a strip about 12 inches long and
two inches wide. Tailhead markings must be touched up daily so they have a consistent look and
changes are easily detected. Some herds use different colors to indicate the reproductive status of
a cow or group identification.

Advances in technology give producers even more options for monitoring cow behavior.
Using automated heat detection systems, much of the labor required for other heat detection
methods is eliminated. Two primary devices utilized with activity monitoring systems include
pedometers and accelerometers.

Pedometers measure steps cows take throughout the day. After a pattern of activity is
established, a formula will calculate when the cow is taking more or fewer steps in a day. A
decrease in activity could mean the cow is sick or lame, while an increase can be a sign of the
cow coming into heat, especially if the activity is increasing on a 21-day interval.
Accelerometers also calculate the cow’s movements side to side, up and down, and front to back.
Having this extra data can help explain more of the cow’s movements. Dairy producers can
access daily reports and look up individual animals on the computer.

Activity monitoring systems are relatively costly to set up and take time for workers and
cows to get used to; however, when used correctly, these systems have great potential for
improved heat detection and overall cow management.

Ideal Breeding & Calving Age

Breed Birth Breeding Breeding Calving Calving Average Adult

weight Weight Age Weight Age daily weight
(Kgs) (Kgs) (months) (Kgs) (months) gain (Kgs)

Holstein, 44-50 397-441 14-16 600-683 23-25 0.5 717-800


Guernsey, 38-44 303-342 13-15 496-551 22-24 0.5 579-639


Jersey 28-33 248-287 13-15 397-468 22-24 0.5 468-551

An industry benchmark many producers follow is to have heifers calve at 22 to 25

months of age and be 80 to 85 percent of their mature body weight at first calving (bred at 65%
of body weight). Sexual maturity for heifers is based more upon weight than age. Growth rate
has a considerable influence on the age puberty is reached and when a heifer is able to be bred
for the first time. Nutrition is very important as some animals are better managed than others.

There are several advantages to calving heifers at 22 to 25 months of age:

❖ Quicker return on investment

❖ Reduction in number of heifers needed to maintain herd size
❖ Increased lifetime performance
❖ More rapid genetic progress
❖ Reduction in total amount of feed needed from birth to calving

Breeding Methods

Getting cows pregnant in a timely manner is an important part of having a profitable

dairy operation. Artificial insemination (AI) and natural service bulls are both commonly used by
Kenyan dairy producers.

Natural Service

The number of cows in Kenya bred naturally by a bull has decreased dramatically over
the years because of technological advances. With natural service, bull information may be
available, but it will be less reliable than using AI sire because fewer daughters of the bull have
been observed.

Also, keeping mature bulls on a dairy farm can be very dangerous and they can also
introduce venereal disease into a herd.

Artificial Insemination

Artificial insemination is a common procedure that involves a trained technician

placing semen from a bull into the body of the uterus of a cow at the time of heat. The biggest
advantage of AI is having access to thousands of sires instead of just one or two that would be
on your farm with a natural service program.

Another benefit is the genetic progress that is available with using AI. Bulls in stud
have been intensely selected for genetic merit and possess the most elite genetics available.
Because of this, daughters of AI sires produce more milk per lactation than daughters of natural
bulls, on average.

Many producers go by the AM/PM rule, since ovulation occurs 16 hours post standard
heat. If a cow is in standing heat in the morning (AM), then breed her in the afternoon. If a cow
is in standing heat in the afternoon (PM), then breed her the next morning.

Pregnancy Determination

Now that you’ve mastered breeding, let’s see if she’s pregnant. With today’s
technology, there are many ways to determine if a cow is pregnant.

1. Palpation

Rectal palpation is the easiest, fastest and cheapest method of determining pregnancy.
Palpation is done by going through the rectum and examining the entire reproductive tract to
identify if the cow is pregnant or open. The only positive signs that a cow is pregnant include:
fetus, cotyledons/caruncles, amniotic vesicle and fetal membrane slip.

To palpate a cow you need to put a plastic sleeve over one of your arms. The plastic
sleeve should stretch to your shoulder. This helps eliminate irritation and the potential for
diseases for both the cow and yourself. To allow your arm to slip easier into the cow’s rectum,
apply lubricant to your hand.

The safest location to palpate a cow is in a headlock or a chute, where she has limited
side-to-side movement. For the cow’s protection, ensure the area has good footing such as a
grooved floor, rubber mat or dirt.

Palpation should be done by a trained professional, such as your veterinarian. This

section is designed to tell you what the vet is feeling for at each stage of pregnancy. Always
assume a cow is pregnant when palpating, and be gentle in handling the reproductive tract so
you do not disturb the pregnancy.

As you remember from learning to perform AI, the cervix has a firm feel and is a good
landmark to orient yourself. After locating the cervix, move on towards the uterus to see if the
cow is pregnant. Pregnancy can be detected as early as 30 days after breeding, however,
palpation before 40 days can cause abortion. Good breeding records will help the person
palpating gauge whether or not the cow is

In the early stages of pregnancy, the uterus will be filled slightly with fluid and will feel
thinner. One horn will be enlarged more than the other. The embryo will be surrounded by a ¾-

inch diameter sack filled with fluid, like a balloon filled tightly with water. On this same side,
the ovary will have a CL.

At 60 days of pregnancy the cervix remains on top of the pelvis and the uterine horns
move forward and downward over the brim. Ninety days of pregnancy the uterus is on the
abdominal floor and is considerably stretched. In larger animals, it may be difficult to feel the
fetus because of the distance the fetus is from the anus.

Holsteins and Brown Swiss are the hardest to palpate because of their
large frames. The fetus is easier to feel at four to five months because it takes up a larger part of
the abdominal cavity. Any fetus more than five months of age will feel about the same except
for the size will continue to increase.

2. Ultrasound

Ultrasound technology gives a more in-depth picture of a cow’s reproductive tract and
pregnancy than a rectal palpation. Many vets and farms use this technology on a regular basis.
Other benefits with using ultrasound are visualization of ovarian structures, early detection of
pregnancy, sex of the fetus and identification of twins.

The machines used today are real time and produce two-dimensional images on the
screen. Ultrasound can be used to detect a pregnancy as early as 26 to 28 days in cows. The fetal
heartbeat can be seen at 21 days. By using ultrasound, cows that are found to be open can be put
back into the breeding program an average of 10 to 15 days sooner than they would have been
with rectal palpation.

Lactating cows often have a high percentage of lost embryos early on in pregnancy. For
the best results see if the embryo is surrounded by fluid and if it has a heartbeat, proving the cow
has a viable pregnancy. The fetal heartbeat can be detected at 21 days. The rate of embryonic
losses between 28 to 56 days can range from 10 to 35 percent. To ensure the cow is still bred,
ultrasound or palpate her again later. If the cow is open, she can be put back on a breeding
program sooner and if she still is bred you have confirmation. Ultrasound will give you
information about the viability of the fetus, which a rectal palpation cannot.

Determining the gender of the fetus (called “sexing”) can be done 50 to 60 days after
breeding, and requires much more practice to be accurate. Knowing the sex of the fetus can help
manage close-up cows. If the cow is carrying a bull, chances are the calf will be larger than a
heifer. Knowing the size of the calf will allow you to be better prepared to assist the cow if she is
having difficulty calving.

3. Blood Test

A blood test can detect the presence of pregnancy-specific protein B (PSP-B) in the blood
circulation of the animal. A sample can be collected 28 to 30 days after breeding. However, it is
recommended the test be done on cows having calved 90 days or more. Cows that calved more
recently can still have PSP-B in their blood from the previous pregnancy. Once samples are
taken, they need to be shipped to a laboratory. The test results are typically read within 48 hours
after being received.

4. Milk Test

The purpose of the milk test is to detect those cows that are pregnant, as well as those
cows that are open in a timely manner. Once milk samples are obtained, they are sent to a
laboratory where an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is performed. This is a cost
effective and labor saving means to quickly determine the status of a cow. There is a high level
of accuracy when samples are taken 35 days or more after breeding.

Many Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI) testing centers offer milk pregnancy tests as a
routine service which reduces the stress on the animal as milk samples can be taken in the parlor.

Fetal Development

Calf development is divided into stages. The first is the embryo, which is the time from
fertilization until the egg has divided enough to take on a particular shape. This embryonic stage
lasts until the developing membranes attach to the wall of the uterus, which is about 38 days. The
placental sides of these attachment points are called cotyledons while the uterine side has

The respiratory system, nervous system, digestive system, circulatory system and
reproductive system are in development during this stage. Around the 38th day, the embryo
begins the fetus period and is referred to as a fetus until birth.

Embryonic membranes attach to the caruncles to form placentomes. Cells continue to

form and the membranes and placentomes become the placenta. The fetus gets its nourishment
through the placenta via a “lifeline,” the umbilical cord. The placenta separates the maternal and
fetal organisms to ensure separate development of the fetus. Complete attachment occurs by the
45th day of gestation.

For the remainder of gestation (45 to 280 days), the fetus grows and develops. Both
genetic and environmental factors affect the development and growth of the calf. Gestation
varies around nine days for dairy breeds. Holsteins have the shortest gestation (279 days), while
Brown Swiss have the longest (288 days). All other dairy breeds fall in the middle.

Fetal Size and Characteristics Used in Determining Pregnancy


Days of Fetal Fetal Identifying Characteristics

Gestation Weight Length

30 0.28 grams 2/5 One uterine horn slightly enlarged and thin; embryonic
vesicle size of large marble. Uterus in approximate
position of
nonpregnant uterus. Fetal membranes may be slipped
between fingers from 30 to 90 days

45 3.54- 7.09 1-1.25 Uterine horn somewhat enlarged, thinner walled and
grams prominent. Embryonic vesicle size of hen’s egg.

60 7.09-14.17 2.5 Uterine horn size of banana; fluid filled and pulled
grams over pelvic brim into body cavity. Fetus size of mouse.

90 85-170 5-6 Both uterine horns swollen (3 to 3“ in diameter) and

grams pulled deeply into body cavity (difficult to palpate).
Fetus is size of rat. Uterine artery 1/8 to 3/16” in
diameter. Cotyledons 3/4 to 1” across.

120 0.5-1 Kg 10-12 Similar to 90-day but fetus more easily palpated. Fetus
is size of small cat with head the size of a lemon.
Uterine artery 1/4” in diameter. Cotyledons more
noticeable and 1 1/2 inches in length. Horns are 4 to 6”
in diameter.

150 2-3 Kg 12-16 Difficult to palpate fetus. Uterine horns are deep in
body cavity with fetus size of large cat—horns 6-8” in
diameter. Uterine artery 1/4-3/8 in diameter.
Cotyledons 2 to 2” in diameter.

180 5-8Kg 20-24 Horns with fetus still out of reach. Fetus size of small
dog. Uterine artery 3/8-1/2” in diameter. Cotyledons
more enlarged. From sixth month until calving a
movement of fetus may be elicited by grasping the
feet, legs or nose.
210 10-15 Kg 24-32 From 7 months until parturition fetus may be felt. Age
is largely determined by increase in fetal size. The
uterine artery continues to increase in size—210 days.

240 20-30 Kg 28-36 1/2” in diameter, 240 days, to 5/8” in diameter;

270 30-50 Kg 28-38 270 days, 1/2 to 3/4” in diameter.


Approximately three weeks before calving dry cows are moved to an area where they can
be closely monitored. It is extremely important to provide the cow with a clean, comfortable
environment to have her calf. Moving cows can cause stress, so it is important to move cows as
early as possible to minimize this. When calving appears imminent, it is best to have a dedicated
maternity pen that is sanitized and located in a quiet, dry, well-lit area.

Calving pens should be checked for progress every hour. When a cow is ready to calve,
she’ll begin having contractions. This is when the uterine muscles will start to contract working
to expel the calf. The cervix and vagina will also dilate.

A normal delivery position is when the calf is born headfirst with its head placed on top
of both front legs which are extended out in front of the body. This is called frontal or anterior
position. When the hind legs and tail come first, this is called a backward posterior position. A
breech delivery is when both legs are retained at the hips, meaning the tail and butt is coming

Twins are more likely to be born breech than single births. Remember to always feel for
another calf just in case there is more than one.

Calving Difficulty

Most cows should calve without assistance. A key indicator of a difficult calving is the
amount of time spent in labor. Dairy cows are generally in labor from two to six hours. Calving
personnel should start assisting cows 70 minutes after the amniotic sac appears. If up and down
and straining, then the cow should be obstructed calving it is called dystocia. Calving in a clean
environment and proper treatment of the cow after a difficult calving will help prevent future
reproductive problems.


Benchmarks provide a convenient method of comparing the performance of your herd

with the performance of similar herds. Complete and accurate herd record analysis should
provide the tools necessary to define past performance and assist in establishing goals to improve
your future performance. Numerous resources are available for use in herd management analysis.

Getting cows pregnant in a timely manner is important, not just because it yields another
replacement, but because of the impact on overall farm profitability. The period of time after
calving during which we do not breed cows even if they show heat is referred to as the voluntary
waiting period (VWP).

Generally, dairy producers set a VWP of 45 to 60 days. Conception rate, heat detection
efficiency and postpartum breeding all strongly influence the calving interval. Detection of the
first estrous period after calving provides a reference point in which you can expect subsequent
estrous periods.

It is also helpful in determining if the cow is recovering normally from calving. To be

successful, a heat-detection program must be routine and habitual as it is a major factor affecting
days open and calving interval. The percent of heats observed is an indicator of the overall
success of a heat detection program. After estrous is observed breeding must be done in a timely
basis for conception to occur.

Measures of conception rate include services per pregnancy and percent of successful
services. Every stage of the breeding process can affect your conception rate. A 40 percent
conception rate among lactating cows and fewer than 2.5 services per conception is a good goal
to start with. Set goals that are challenging and realistic, so that you can improve your skills.

The ultimate goal of dairy cattle reproduction is to produce the next generation of viable
offspring. Dairy cows must freshen regularly to maximize milk production and herd
replacements. The best investment in your herd’s future is most likely your heifers. As you will
discover, lactation is highly dependent on successful reproduction. If you want to improve the
reproductive performance of your herd, you should focus your attention on setting a voluntary
waiting period and achieving the goals that your management team has set for heat detection and
conception rates.

What Can You Feed Pregnant Cows?

What cows eat and how much they need varies by age and type. Feeding specifics also
depend on what’s available in your area. Pregnant cows require even more nutrients than others
do, but their needs can be met by choosing foods that provide plenty of energy and protein. As
long as you give her enough to eat containing the nutrients she requires you can expect that your
cow and her calf will do well.

1. Hay

Hay, a staple of the cattle diet, is often fed to pregnant cows even if they have access to
pasture. The average cow will eat between 10 Kgs to 15 Kgs per day of good-quality hay such as
alfalfa. You can supplement with haylage -- hay that has been chopped and bagged or otherwise
stored until it begins to ferment, increasing its nutritional value. If the cow doesn’t have access to
pasture, give her access to hay at all times, especially in late pregnancy.

2. Grain

A pregnant cow needs plenty of grain to meet her energy needs and the needs of her
growing calf. Grain comes in various forms, generally cracked, ground, pelleted or made into
meal. A heifer who is still growing herself will need more than an older birthing cow; any cow in
the last two months of her pregnancy needs more than she did during the first part of gestation.
Common grains fed to a pregnant cow include corn, barley, wheat, rye and oats.

3. Supplements

Supplements help to make sure a pregnant cow gets all the nutrients she needs to have a
healthy calf. This is essential if her regular feed is lacking anything; it can be highly beneficial in
later pregnancy, as the size of the calf reduces how much the cow is able to eat. Molasses is a
common additive, providing lots of energy as well as iron and vitamins. Other extras include
soybean meal, fish meal, blood meal and commercial protein supplements.

4. Silage

Silage is similar to haylage but is commonly made of corn. Depending on the location
and conditions, silage may consist of sorghum, perennial peanuts, various small grains, clover
and other grasses. Silage may contain soybeans, chopped sugarcane or millet. Several ingredients
are often mixed together to create a palatable food high in nutritional value. It’s generally not
practical to make silage to feed just one or two cows, but it serves producers with large herds.

Feeding and managing your dairy calf

Two years from now, your newborn heifer calves should enter the milking herd. At that
time, you will depend on them for income. To assure they become sound, profitable producers,
give calves and heifers proper care and feeding. It is important to evaluate your dairy
replacement program and make sound feeding and management decisions in order to minimize
current expenses and also to ensure future success based on superior replacement animals.

Calves are the foundation on which the future of any dairy enterprise is built. If good
replacement heifers are to be found, the management of calves must be effective. Calf
management starts even before she is born to the time she is weaned.

With good feeding regime and routine practices, death cases are reduced even at the time
when she is being born.

The calves remain healthy, grow fast into replacement heifers and start production early,
hence rapidly contributing to genetic improvement and overall growth of the farm.

During calving down, provide assistance when necessary to avoid difficulties and deaths
at birth. After birth, first ensure that the calf is breathing. If having difficulty in breathing, assist
it by removing mucus from nostrils.

If still not breathing, hold the calf by the rear limbs upside down, swinging it several
times. Next tie and cut then disinfect the umbilical cord using iodine or solution of copper


During the first to second week, separate the calf from the mother or dam and start
feeding her by hand. Feeding should meet the calves’ nutrient requirements, aim at reducing
deaths, encouraging rumen development and maintaining a daily growth rate of approximately
0.4 to 0.5kg.

This weight, however, varies with breeds. The feeding strategy, however, changes
depending on the start of weaning.

First week of birth: After the calf is able to stand, allow it to suckle colostrum at will
from the mother. The suckling should be assisted by directing the muzzle towards the udder if
the calf is not able. Colostrum absorption is highest within 12 hours after birth and very low after
24 hours.

As such, the calf must suckle colostrum immediately after birth, most recommended
within an hour or two. Excess colostrum can be stored or fed to other calves when still fresh.

Generally, colostrum has antibodies that pass immunity to the calf hence protect it against
diseases the mother might have been exposed to. It is also a rich source of nutrients as it has high
amount of energy and protein compared to milk.

Second week: Colostrum feeding continues for about four to five days. Though up to this
time, the rumen of the calf is not yet well-developed but has a groove formed that help deliver
milk straight from the oesophagus to the abomasum (true stomach), restricting solid feed to pass.

It is for this reason that the calf remains dependent on liquid diets like whole milk or milk
replacer for growth and nutrition and should be fed clean and warm at body temperature of 37C
at 10 per cent body weight which translates to about four litres per day in at least two feedings.
Milk here should be given through nipple suckling, bottle feeding or early introduction to bucket

Third week: Between two to three weeks of age, introduce high quality roughage. This
can be supplemented with concentrates preferably calf starter pellets. Where hay is used, it
should be of high quality, fine texture and mixed with legumes.

Milk feed increases as the body weight surges such that the calf consumes milk
equivalent to 10 per cent of its own body weight. This continues for up to about week six.

Week six: The amount of milk here is reduced and the calf is encouraged to consume dry
feeds, including concentrates until weaning time at week nine.


Even though water is the largest component of milk, calves should also be served fresh
water. Lack of drinking water slows down the rate of digestion and development of the rumen
lengthening the time for safe weaning. Water intake increases with age and after sometime the
animal should have free access.


This means withdrawing milk and the calf now becomes fully dependent on other feed
sources. At this point, the calf has attained twice its birth weight.

Mostly, dairy calves are weaned at about nine to 12 weeks of age. It is possible to wean
early at about five to eight weeks if more milk was fed and calves got introduced to pre-starter
and starter feeds early in life.

Early weaning, however, requires that a specific feeding programme be adopted, like
using low levels of milk and high energy, high protein pelleted concentrates to stimulate rumen

To reduce stress on calves, weaning should be done gradually. Reduce the twice a day
milk feeding to once a day to allow the calf’s digestive system to adjust to the new diet.

Dairy calf housing

On big dairy farms, there are new babies being born every day. Just like people, cows
only produce milk (lactate) if they have recently had a baby. The cows get a break from milking
for about two months before they calve (have their baby).

The newborn calves get to have a little time with their mother, long enough for the cow to
clean the calf and lick it dry. The calves never have any nose-to-udder contact with the cow.
(This is another step in food safety for milk – it limits bacterial contamination of the udder.)
Once the calf is clean and dry, the cow is moved, her colostrum is hand-milked and bottle fed to
the calf within 1 hour of being born.

After spending a half-day in this straw pen in the main barn, the calves are moved outside
to their own individual calf hutch.

The hutches are sort of like big dog houses. There is a fenced-in area in front of the
hutch, so the calves can come in and out whenever they want. They are close enough that they
can see and smell the other calves, but not touch them.

As they heard us coming towards Calf Village, they started to wake up, come out of their
hutches, and stretch. Calves are pretty curious, and they wanted to see what was going on!

Cattle are herd animals, so it is important to keep them near other animals. But calves of
this age are really susceptible to bacterial and viral diseases, especially when they are kept in
large groups. Keeping them just a little bit separated like this helps to decrease the incidence of
disease. It is easier to monitor each individual calf, so if one starts to show signs of illness, she
can be temporarily moved to a different part of the farm so she doesn’t get the rest of the calves
sick. (Sort of like keeping your child home from school when he has the chickenpox!)

It’s also easier to feed the calves when they are separate. Babies are hungry, and they’ll
fight over food if you’re not careful. These calves are fed milk replacer in their very own bucket
twice a day. (Keeping one bucket for each calf also helps reduce disease transmission.)

Once the calves are 6-7 weeks old, they are weaned off the milk replacer and onto a high-
protein pelleted diet. (This is the dairy version of creep feed.)

After weaning, when the calves are around 2 months old, they are moved into group
hutches. These hutches are super-sized houses for the babies. By this time, they’re old enough
that their immune systems are stronger and they are not at quite as much risk of getting sick, so
it’s safe to put them together in small groups.

They are put in groups of 4-6 in these spaces. This gives them a chance to socialize a
little more closely with other animals.

After about two weeks in the group hutches, the calves are sent to the main farm where
they live in bigger groups and grow up a little more. When they are old enough (around 14
months) they are bred. When the heifers are around 22 months old they are brought back to the
New Generation Dairy. They have about 2 months on the farm to get accustomed to their new
(permanent) home before they have their first calves and join the milking herd.

Chapter 10

Health, Vaccination & Diseases Control

Vaccination Programs for the Cow/Calf Operation

Disease prevention is of utmost importance in a cow-calf operation because it is a low

profit margin enterprise. Adequate nutrition, strategic deworming, sanitation and a well-designed
vaccination program are all necessary to maintain herd health. This section of this chapter
focuses on the vaccination program aspect of herd health and the goal is to provide producers
with information they need to evaluate their own program if necessary.

However, this is not to be used as a substitute when advice from a local veterinarian is
available. The local veterinarian understands the predominant diseases in a particular area and
has the ability to design a vaccination program that is tailor made for the needs of each operation.

In addition, producers currently on a vaccination program designed by a veterinarian
should not make changes to the program without first consulting with their veterinarian. Failure
to do so may lead to undesired consequences.

Overview of the vaccination program

Vaccine programs used in the breeding herd are primarily designed to prevent against
diseases that cause reproductive losses which includes failure to conceive, embryonic death,
abortion and stillbirths. Vaccinating the breeding herd also protects the developing fetus and has
the additional benefit of increasing antibodies in colostrum which helps protect the newborn calf.
In calves, the vaccination program is primarily designed to prevent respiratory disease and
diseases that cause sudden death.


The first step in designing or evaluating a program is to know the diseases that are most
likely to impact a cow/calf operation. The following is a description of the diseases that typically
make up the core of most vaccination programs and when the vaccines for the disease are to be
administered. Vaccines for other diseases can be added when deemed necessary.

1. Viral diseases
Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) –in a non-immune pregnant cow, exposure to
this virus can cause abortions. The abortions typically occur after four months of gestation but
can occur at anytime and abortion rates of 5-60% have been reported. In calves, IBR is
responsible for respiratory disease outbreaks. Calves with IBR will exhibit fever, lethargy, heavy
nasal discharge and open mouth breathing.

IBR may also affect the eye creating symptoms similar to pinkeye. This “ocular form” of
IBR may or may not occur in conjunction with respiratory disease. Cows and replacement
heifers should be vaccinated for IBR before the breeding season begins and calves should be
vaccinated near weaning.

Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD) – BVD is a complicated disease and can cause a wide
variety of problems in a cow/calf herd. In pregnant animals, infections may result in early
embryonic death, abortions or calves may be born with congenital defects. BVD infections also
have an immunosuppressive effect and can make the cow herd more susceptible to other
infectious agents.

Calves exposed to this virus may show severe diarrhea but respiratory disease outbreaks
are more common. The immunosuppressive effect of this virus also makes calves more
susceptible to other infectious agents.

The greatest impact of BVD is seen in herds that have one or more persistently infected
(PI) animals. The creation of a persistently infected (PI) animal happens only during pregnancy
and occurs in the following manner: Around 60 to 125 days of gestation, the immune system of
the unborn calf is in the recognition period. If a non-cytopathic strain of the BVD virus infects
the unborn calf during this recognition period, the virus may be recognized as “normal” by the
calf’s immune system.

If this occurs, the virus is never eliminated from the calf’s body and the calf is infected
for life. Once this animal is born it is the primary source of maintenance of BVD in the herd
since it sheds high levels of the virus in body secretions and excretions. Pregnant cows and
calves that come into contact with these PI’s experience the problems described in the previous

Because PI animals are so detrimental, the common recommendation for herds that
suspect they have one or more PI’s is to test and remove the infected animals under the guidance
of a veterinarian. Vaccination alone is not enough to overcome the effects these PI’s may have. If
a herd is currently PI free, it is recommended that all purchased cattle are tested before they are
introduced into the herd and a BVD vaccine should be given to the cowherd pre-breeding.

If the cow is protected, this greatly reduces the risk of the unborn calf becoming infected
if the herd is accidentally exposed to the virus. Calves should be vaccinated for BVD near

Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus (BRSV) – Even though BRSV is occasionally

reported to be the cause of respiratory disease outbreaks in non-immune adult cows, it is more
likely to cause respiratory disease outbreaks in calves. Calves that develop a severe form of
BRSV have steadily increased breathing difficulty, fluid accumulates in the lungs and they may
have open mouth breathing. If it is decided a BRSV vaccine should be used in the breeding herd
it should be administered at the same time the IBR and BVD vaccines are administered. Calves
should be given the vaccine near weaning.

Parainfluenza (PI3) – This virus has traditionally been considered to be part of the
respiratory disease complex in calves but there is little evidence to indicate how significant its
role is. Even though the importance of this virus is in question, producers will find that vaccines
containing IBR, BVD and BRSV will also contain PI3 and therefore they will be vaccinating
against this disease by default.
2. Bacterial Diseases

Leptospirosis – This bacterial agent predominantly affects cows and causes abortions,
stillbirths or weak born calves. Abortions may occur as early as the third month of gestation, but
more frequently occur in the 3rd trimester.

Historically, vaccinating against leptospirosis has been done with a multivalent (several
strains) vaccine containing L. hardjo, L. pomona, L. canicola, L. icterohaemorrhagiae and L.
grippotyphosa. Vaccination of the breeding herd normally occurs before the breeding season
begins and again at pregnancy examination time because the duration of immunity of this
vaccine is less than one year.

More recently, animal health companies have been offering a vaccine that contains
another strain of leptospirosis called L. hardjo-bovis. Farmers should consult with their
veterinarian to determine if this additional strain should be included in their vaccination protocol.

Vibriosis – Vibriosis is a venereal disease that can be spread from an infected cow to
uninfected cows via the bull. Vibriosis may cause embryonic death and resorption which goes
unnoticed by the producer or it may lead to infertility and the producer notices his/her cows
rebreeding several times before they finally conceive.

Infected cows usually recover and become normal breeders after a normal pregnancy is
obtained. However, a few cows will carry the infection through gestation, deliver a normal calf
and then infect bulls in the next breeding season. Vaccinations for vibriosis should be given to all
breeding animals prior to the breeding season.

Clostridial diseases – Clostridium bacteria can cause disease of the muscle, liver or
intestine in cattle. Terms frequently used when muscle is involved are blackleg and malignant
edema and the term red-water is used when the liver is involved. Clinical signs of a clostridial
infection are dependent upon the organ involved.

In most instances, producers will find the affected animals dead rather than sick due to
the rapid progression of the disease. Occasionally, clostridial diseases affect older animals but in
most instances the greatest impact is seen in calves. Vaccines against clostridial diseases are
commonly referred to as 7-way or 8-way blackleg vaccine and they are normally given to calves
at marking and branding time and again near weaning.

Brucellosis – Signs of this disease in cattle are abortions, weak calves, failure to settle,
faulty cleaning and decreased milk production with no apparent signs of sickness. Even though
testing and slaughtering has greatly reduced the incidence of this disease, it is highly
recommended that replacement heifers still be vaccinated for it. This vaccine is normally
administered around weaning time and must be administered by a licensed veterinarian.


Vaccines contain bacteria, viruses or a combination of both. To prevent the vaccine from
causing disease when it is administered to an animal, the vaccine manufacturers will alter the
organisms during the manufacturing process. Currently, vaccines used by cattle farmers can be
divided into two major categories. They are the inactivated or killed vaccines and the modified
live vaccines.

These terms are referring to the condition of the bacteria or virus in the vaccine. “Killed”
means the organisms are no longer alive and “Modified Live” means the organisms are still alive
and have the ability to replicate, but they have been altered in such a way they don’t cause
disease when they are administered to the animal.

Common examples of killed vaccines producers may be familiar with are blackleg and
leptospirosis which are bacterial diseases. However, killed vaccines may also contain viruses
such as IBR, BVD, BRSV and PI3.

When the term modified live is used, people are generally referring to viruses only even
though there are a few modified live bacterial vaccines available. It is also important to be aware
that modified live vaccines may have a killed component to them. A common example of this is
a vaccine that contains a modified live IBR, BVD, BRSV and PI3 and also contains the five
strains of a killed leptospirosis. There are also some vaccines that contain both killed and
modified live viruses. Carefully reading the vaccine label will indicate whether the vaccine is
killed, modified live, or a combination of both.

A question that commonly arises is which type of vaccine should be used when
vaccinating for viral diseases – killed or modified live? The advantages most frequently cited for
using modified live vaccines are they provide quicker protection, better protection, and longer
lasting protection against viral diseases than do the killed vaccines. Another advantage
commonly cited is that one dose of a modified live vaccine may elicit a protective immune
response in an animal that has never been vaccinated before, whereas a killed vaccine will
require a second dose 3-4 weeks later.

Even though one dose of a modified live may be adequate in some instances, it is
generally recommended that a second dose of the vaccine be administered 3-4 weeks later to
ensure a greater percentage of the herd is immunized. Once the animals have been properly
immunized, one dose of either the killed or modified live annually, is usually sufficient to
“booster” immunity.

The primary disadvantage of the modified live vaccines is the precautions they have
associated with them. Some modified lives are not labeled for use in pregnant cows or calves
nursing pregnant cows. Those that are approved for use in these circumstances requires the cows
be vaccinated with a modified live vaccine from the same company within the past 12 months.

There is also some that information that suggest a modified live should be administered
no sooner than 30 days before the start of the breeding season; especially in cows or heifers in
which a modified live vaccine has never been used before. The reason behind this is the modified
live IBR component of the vaccine may cause inflammation of the ovary thereby reducing
fertility for a short period of time. If the vaccine is administered 30+ days in advance, the
inflammation will have subsided and fertility will have returned to normal by the breeding

Farmers that can follow these precautions are encouraged to use modified lives because
of the advantages previously mentioned. For those that cannot, killed vaccines will still provide
protection as long as label directions are followed. Talking with the local veterinarian will help
the producer decide if a modified live viral vaccine will fit with their management style.

Vaccine Timing

Since the purpose of vaccinating a group of animals is to reduce the likelihood that a
disease outbreak will occur or instead, reduce the impact of an outbreak if it does happen, it

would make sense that the vaccine should be administered before the disease is likely to occur.
Therefore, it is important to assure that the appropriate vaccines are administered in the breeding
herd prior to the breeding season and to the calves before weaning time. Failure to do so
increases the risk of a disease event.

Timing of vaccination is also important for achieving an adequate immune response.

Administering vaccines during stressful periods, such as during weaning, reduces the ability of
the animal’s immune system to properly respond to the vaccine resulting in poor protection.

This is why vaccination programs often recommend administering the respiratory disease
vaccines 2-4 weeks prior to weaning and then again at weaning. Administering the vaccine prior
to weaning not only gives the calves time to respond to the vaccine but the calves are under less
stress at this time because they are still with the cows. Other factors lead to a poor vaccine
response is poor nutrition, parasitism, overwhelming disease challenge and mishandling of

Basic vaccination protocol:

1. Cows

Pre-breeding: - IBR, BVD, BRSV, PI3

- Leptospirosis (5-way)

Pregnancy Examination: - Leptospirosis (5-way)

2. Calves

Marking & Branding Time (60-90 days): - Clostridial diseases (7-way)

2 – 4 Weeks Prior to Weaning: - Clostridial diseases (7-way)

Weaning: - IBR, BVD, BRSV, PI3
- Brucellosis vaccine for replacement heifers
- Breeding Bulls

Pre-breeding: - IBR, BVD, BRSV, PI3

- Vibriosis

3. Replacement Heifers

30-60 Days Prior to Breeding: - IBR, BVD, BRSV, PI3

- Leptospirosis (5-way)
- Vibriosis


❖ BRSV and PI3 may be considered as optional in breeding livestock.

❖ The replacement heifers will require two doses of Leptospirosis and Vibriosis since they
have not received these vaccines before. The first dose of Lepto and Vibrio can be given
60 days prior to breeding and again at 30 days prior to breeding when the viral vaccine is
administered. The other option is to administer the Lepto and Vibrio along with the
viral’s 30 days prior to the breeding season and then the second dose may be
administered at breeding time.
❖ In many cow/calf operations vaccines are only given to calves at weaning time. If this is
the case, consider using a modified live viral vaccine and administer it the same day that
weaning begins.

The Basic Clinical Exam: Key to Early Identification of Sick Animals

Finding and treating sick animals early is the key to maintaining a safe, nutritious food
supply. On dairies, this begins with a basic physical exam of the cow. Frequently a staff member,
trained by the herd veterinarian, identifies cows that appear abnormal and conducts a basic exam.
The goals of a Physical Exam Program include:

1. Identify sick cows early,

2. Treat sick cows early,
3. Prevent spread of diseases,
4. Protect the food supply, and
5. Improve animal welfare.

Besides these common goals, dairy employees may be the first to see abnormal
symptoms that may indicate a foreign or emerging disease. Anytime unfamiliar symptoms are
seen, the herd owner, veterinarian or manager should be notified. To conduct a basic physical
exam, learn the normal characteristics of a cow. For example, the cow’s normal heart rate is 60-
70 beats per minute; respiration rate is 30 breaths per minute; temperature is 101.5 to 102 °F; and
rumen contractions occur once or twice per minute.

Use a stethoscope to check heart, lungs and rumen for abnormalities.

Once you determine that a cow is “abnormal”, use your powers of observation to
determine what the problem is. Some potential disorders include: ketosis (urine or milk analysis),
displaced abomasum (DA), mastitis, metritis and endometritis, lameness (feet and legs), lesions
(mouth, feet, or teats), other common diseases (IBR, BVD, leptosporosis, PI3, etc.), and unusual
symptoms that could indicate foreign or new diseases.

Grouping of Animals

Depending upon the dairy there are a number of different groups of animals that require
differing amounts of attention. Typically, calving and recently calved or “fresh” cows receive the
most attention on dairies. Today many dairies conduct a brief physical exam on every cow for
the first ten days after they calve. After the initial intense observation, most animals enter the
lactating pens, where they continue to be observed on a daily basis for abnormal behavior. If any
abnormal signs are detected, these “non-stressed” animals will then be evaluated further.

Each dairy has its own guidelines for isolating and monitoring recently purchased
animals as well as those that have undergone some type of stress. Increased monitoring and

evaluation are indicated whenever an animal is subject to a stressor. Some common stressors
include: weaning, weather changes, pen moves, and other management changes.

Whether the stress comes from metabolic stress, grouping changes, heat stress,
overcrowding or unsanitary conditions; the cow uses more and more of her resources to deal
with the stress. As a result there are decreasing resources for her to use for production. As these
multiple stressors are stacked upon each other, the cow finally reaches a breaking point where
she becomes ill. Fresh cows are even more susceptible to disease because their immune system is
depressed. This makes them more likely to be infected by disease causing organisms such as
salmonella, clostridium, and pneumonia.

Identifying Diseases

For daily monitoring, focus your attention on four main areas:

1. Temperature,
2. Appetite,
3. Uterine discharge (particularly fresh cows), and
4. Hydration status.

Develop a systematic approach to check the following:

● Attitude – Look at the eyes and ears. Sunken eyes and droopy ears indicate a sign of
something wrong. Sick cows typically seek solitude, lie down in corners of the corral and
move slower with less energy than healthy cows. Grade her as alert, mildly depressed or
● Appetite – Watch for cows that don’t come up to the feed bunk to eat. Look at how much
of the feed in front of a cow was eaten. Compare her to herd mates in the same pen.
Grade her as aggressive, normal or not eating.
● General Appearance – Panting and excessive salivation can be signs of the animal not
feeling well. Compare her behavior to other animals.
● Hydration – Use a skin test to check for hydration. Look at her eyes, if they are sunken
she is dehydrated.
● Temperature – Digital thermometers provide rapid readings. In most herds,
temperatures between 101 and 103 °F are considered normal. Temperatures less than 100
°F are too low and over 103 °F are too high. These values may be adjusted for particular
conditions, such as hot seasons heat stress. The first 10 days after calving is particularly
critical. Frequently, temperatures are taken daily for these animals. Temperature
increases can be the first sign of illness such as metritis, mastitis, or pneumonia. Cows
with milk fever, DA, ketosis, or indigestion may have abnormally low temperatures.
● Feet and Legs – Look to see if the cow is standing and walking normally, if not identify
the cause. Check for lesions. Hoof warts occur frequently. If you don’t recognize the
lesion, contact the herd owner, veterinarian or manager as this could be a sign of Foot and
Mouth Disease, which is a highly contagious, reportable disease.

Look for abnormal lesions between the toes or on the teats, which might indicate Foot and
● Udder – Check the udder for abnormal signs. Swelling indicates the cow may have
mastitis or it could be udder edema in cows that recently calved. Lesions on the udder
again need to be identified and the herd owner or veterinarian should diagnose what they

are. Examine the teats for lesions. Tell the herd owner or veterinarian about blister like
● Uterus – Particularly for fresh cows, check to see if there are visible signs of discharge.
Some discharge, called lochia, is common immediately after calving. Investigate the
cause of any foul smelling discharge, an indication of a problem. Follow standard
protocols for cows with abnormal discharge.
● Heart Rate – Determine the heart rate by using a stethoscope. Check both sides and
listen for sounds that could indicate a heart murmur.
● Lungs – Check the respiration rate and listen for signs of congestion that might indicate
the cow has pneumonia. Observe for nasal discharges or coughing.
● Rumen – Determine the number of contractions per minute. Look for abdominal
distension or bloating.
● Manure – Look at the manure and decide if it is similar in appearance to that of other
animals in the group. Cows that have diarrhea may be infected with salmonella, E. coli,
or Johne’s.

Record the disease diagnosis and treatment for each cow. At a minimum these records
should include the date, cow identification, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. Follow set
protocols for treatment developed by the herd veterinarian. If antibiotics are necessary, follow
withdrawal times for both milk and meat. Do not stop the clinical exam at the first findings – you
can miss other signs of disease. Try to associate all normal and abnormal signs found during the
exam with common diseases. If you don’t recognize something talk to your supervisor and/or
herd veterinarian immediately. Follow the treatment indicated in the dairy’s protocols for each
specific illness. In case of no response to treatment – contact your supervisor immediately.

Keeping cows healthy goes beyond routine physical exams. Proper nutrition throughout
the animal’s life is needed to maintain her immune system. Nutrition from the close-up period
immediately before calving through early lactation is particularly important. Providing early
assistance in calving, if needed, is critical. Also providing a clean, comfortable environment
helps minimize disease.
Keeping cows standing for at least 30 minutes after milking by providing fresh feed can
reduce mastitis by allowing time for the teat sphincter to close. Routine evaluation of the cows in
a herd with the basic physical exam helps identify sick animals early so that they can be treated.
When treatment is needed, follow herd specific protocols and adhere to the label for meat and
milk withdrawal periods.

Abnormal symptoms, which could indicate a new disease in the herd, should be reported
to the herd owner, veterinarian or manager immediately. These new diseases could be a foreign
or emerging disease. Rapid identification is the key to preventing spread of these diseases.

Effective Cleaning & Disinfection On The Dairy Farm

Cleaning and disinfecting is imperative to maintain the well being and health of high
producing animals, such as dairy cows. This is especially the case in intensive modern housing
where high density and high productivity increases the infection pressure. Thorough cleaning
and adapted disinfection decreases the pathogen level and prevents or breaks the disease cycle.

The myth

The ideal disinfectant:

● Has a spectrum adapted to the target.
● Is fast acting.
● Has a sufficient efficiency within the contact time.
● Remains active in the presence of organic matter.
● Has a good material compatibility, for example with metals and concrete.
● Has no or low toxicity for users.
● Has an acceptable ecotoxicity.
● Has an easy protocol of application.

Iodine, chlorine, glutaraldehyde, phenolic or quaternary ammonium compounds - none of

these raw materials used in disinfectants respond to all these parameters. Thus, synergy is required:
a mutually advantageous conjunction of distinct elements to get closer to the 'myth' of the ideal
disinfectant. Complex formulations with several active substances that also contain stabilisers,
sequestering agents and buffering agents offer the best compromise. Together with the chemical
properties of the disinfectant, the method of application is a key factor to obtain good results.

The reality

One unique disinfectant cannot match all the different sources of contamination existing at
farm level. The choice of the product to be used is made according to the answers given to the
following questions:

● Against which germs am I disinfecting? Know your enemy before the fight!
● Which surfaces have to be disinfected? The disinfectant should be adapted to the material
and to the level of organic matter.
● How and how often should I disinfect?

Housing hygiene
Unlike some livestock systems, the dairy farm does not have the luxury of an 'all in, all out'
stocking policy. However, the terminal disinfection of individual buildings or boxes is possible.
The reduction of bacteria in the immediate surroundings must reduce the opportunity for bacteria
to gain access to the animal and cause diseases. Remove all bedding and equipment before soaking
and cleaning.

The nature of the surfaces will influence the efficacy of the disinfection. Rough, porous
surfaces are harder to disinfect than smooth surfaces. Porous surfaces are also harder to clean than
smooth surfaces. Porous surfaces will therefore have heavier soil loads after cleaning, which
further increases the difficulty of disinfection. A broad spectrum disinfectant with penetration
enhancers should be used (Virocid for instance).

Milking parlour hygiene

The milking parlour is a high density place so should be disinfected twice daily. Surfaces
should be cleaned regularly to avoid multiplication of pathogens in this frequented area. As the
milking machine is cleaned every day, it should be the same for the milking parlour itself. After
each milking, rinse the milking parlour with water. Once a week, clean the area with a detergent
(Biogel for instance), then disinfect (Virocid is advised because of its broad spectrum, its flexible
directions for use: spray or foam or fogging and its non-corrosivity due to neutral pH). The
automatic milking parlour is often even dirtier as the robot can not do everything by itself.

Calf hut, calf pen and calving box hygiene.

Calves need the best possible start in life, and cows need the best possible care at calving
to ensure a good profitable lactation. Against which germs am I disinfecting? Calf pneumonia and
calf scours cost the farming industry worldwide vast sums. The losses result not only from deaths,
but from reduced feed conversion, poor growth and the cost of treatment. Focusing on neonatal

calf diarrhoea (NCO), the most critical period is in the first few days following birth. The greatest
losses occur when calves are kept in close confinement, where the opportunity for transmission of
the causative agents of NCO is enhanced by their build-up in the environment.

Pathogens responsible for NCO can be viruses (rotavirus, coronavirus), bacteria (E. coli,
salmonella) or parasites (Cryptosporidium parvum). The disinfectant used must have a spectrum
covering those three types of pathogens. For bacteria and virus, there are a lot of active substances
available on the market (iodine, glutaraldehyde). For C. parvum it is not so easy. Only a few
alternatives are available on the market. Recently, the efficacy of an amine-based disinfectant has
been established by INRA. The product, named Kenocox, has a complete spectrum against NCO:
it is efficient against bacteria, virus and C. parvum. Where and which surfaces have to be

Calf huts, calf pens and calving box have to be disinfected. As the oocysts of
cryptosporidium are highly resistant in the environment (survival for several months if not exposed
to extreme temperatures), implementing a good cleaning and disinfecting program is critical to
reduce the environmental oocyst load. Buckets, feeders and drinkers must also be disinfected and
rinsed afterwards. How and how often should I disinfect? The infectious pressure increases with
the accumulation of bacteria, viruses and oocysts in the environment. The best option is to clean
and disinfect before each entry of animals.

People hygiene

The hands of farmers, directly in contact with cows and equipment, can be a vector of
pathogens. Fast killing effect, broad spectrum and soft for the skin are the required properties of
the disinfectant used for hand hygiene. Decontaminating soap (Kenoderm) or disinfecting alcohol
solution (Kenosept) are available. The critical characteristics required from a disinfectant used in
a bootbath are speed of disinfection and broad spectrum.

A disinfectant based on hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid is ideal for this purpose
(Kickstart). Hand and boot disinfection should be applied by the farmer before and during milking,
and also when going from one group of animals to another (for instance dairy cows to then
handling calves). This should also be applied to all external people entering the farm.

Milking machine hygiene

The milking machine can be a source of infection and can lead to increased bactoscan
results. Therefore, it is of great importance that a strict cleaning and disinfecting protocol is
followed. The milking machine should be cleaned after each milking with an acid or an alkaline.
A chlorinated alkaline product allows disinfection of the system. Peracetic acid combined with
hydrogen peroxide are also sometimes used to disinfect the system. The dilution should be
carefully selected as it can damage the rubber.

Animal hygiene

The three main diseases with major economic Significance are mastitis, infertility and
lameness. Two out of three have infectious components. Thus, using an adapted disinfectant is
essential for the control of these diseases and consequently for farm profitability.

Teat hygiene.

There are three dangerous periods when cows are more vulnerable to mastitis causing

❖ During milking, if teat preparation is not optimal.

❖ After milking, if the cow lies down in a dirty area with opened teat sphincters.
❖ During the pregnancy period.

During milking cows 'share' the milking machine and it is a source of contamination from
one cow to another cow or one quarter to another quarter. Be aware: whatever bacteria are not
removed from the teat surface before milking machine attachment will end up in the milk!

Pre-milking preparation can be realised in a different manner: reusable cloths, soaked in a

bucket of detergent solution is the traditional method. As reusable cloths can be a source of
transmission from one cow to another cow, it is strongly advised to use one cloth per cow and to
disinfect them between each milking.

A detergent and disinfecting solution can be sprayed on the teats, then the teats are dried
with one single paper towel per cow. With the foaming dip cup it is even better: no water is applied
on the udder, thus there is no dissemination of the dirt. Foam can be considered as a semi-dried
method allowing the most hygienic preparation of the teats before milking.

After milking the risk of contamination is high because the sphincter is open and can stay
open for up to two hours after milking. The FAO highlights the importance of the post-milking
teat disinfection because it kills possible germs that get on the skin during the milking process. It
is also important to cover the period between the two milkings.

The products of the Kenbo range have proven their efficacy against the main germs causing
mastitis. Contagious and environmental pathogens have been tested. As teat dips are applied twice
daily on the skin of the cow, it is critical to use well tolerated formulations. Whereas classical teat
dips focus on attack (disinfectant properties), the Keno range focuses on total teat care (disinfection
properties of course, but mostly improvement of teat skin and teat end condition). Either Keno
Start, Keno Cidin or Keno Lac allow ideal teat skin and sphincter condition.

During the dry/pregnancy period

Hygiene of the cows, directly linked with environment hygiene, is of great importance in
mastitis control and prevention. Again with the prevention of a build up of mastitis pathogens in
mind, it is important to keep dry cow pens as clean as possible.

Hoof hygiene.

Considerable economic losses are attributable to lameness due to the cost of treatment,
decreased milk production, decreased reproductive performance, and increased culling. The
incidence of lameness has steadily increased over the last 20 years.

Be proactive! Don't wait to have a high prevalence in the herd before setting up a prevention
strategy. The challenge regarding hooves disinfection is to find a disinfectant efficient in heavily
contaminated solutions. The disinfectant should also reach the bacteria that are often deep in the
tissues. Herd measures like footbaths, hoof mats and foaming systems are essential to control the
spread ofthe disease. Pediline Pro has been formulated according to these specific needs. The claws
have to be correctly trimmed at least once each year. Individual treatment, including antibiotic and
healing processes may be useful.


Bacteria are everywhere: in soil, in water, on animals and on humans. The purpose of
disinfection is to decrease infection pressure and thus decrease disease prevalence. Choosing the
disinfectant adapted to each specific situation leads to effective prevention and a profitable dairy

Chapter 11

Dairy Farm Management Practices & Record


Animal welfare is at the heart of any good farming business. Our responsibility for the
wellbeing of stock starts at birth and continues, not only while they are in our care, but also
beyond the farm gate. As farmers we must make sure that all animals are treated with care and
respect, in a healthy and safe environment.

Insisting on the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare on our farms is good

● our animals,
● us, our farms and farm teams,
● our industry and for Kenya
In this chapter am going to teach you about some dairy farm management practices and
farm record keeping that you may not know and are mostly assumed by many dairy farmers.

Transport your dairy cow: Cow Comfort

The aim of preparing stock for transport, including standing stock off, is to ensure a
comfortable and safe journey for cattle, to reduce effluent on public roads, and to ensure cattle
arrive at their destination in a fit and healthy state.

Preparing stock for transport:

Step 1: 3 to 4 days before travel

1. Are stock fit for transport? See fit for transport guidelines and if unsure organise a
veterinary inspection and certificate if needed.
2. Complete planning for the journey. For long-haul journeys the planning should
start several weeks ahead and include planning for pregnant cows off if lactating.
3. Check with your transport provider. Confirm the day and approximate time of
collection, find out if they will be using multi-decked trucks and if so, are there

any restrictions on the size of the animals. Ask if they use trucks with effluent
collection tanks?

Step 2: 12 to 24 hours before travel

1. Always allow access to water.

2. Decide when and where to stand stock off green feed – a grazed out paddock or
stand-off pad are good options (concrete surfaces damage and bruise soles and
may lead to lameness).
3. Stand stock off green feed for at least 4 hours – the length of time depends on
class of livestock and duration of travel. Continue feeding silage, hay or straw
during standing, especially prior to long-distance journeys.
4. Continue magnesium supplementation for stock that need it (80-100g elemental
magnesium / cow / day). Drench or feed as a slurry spread onto hay or silage.
5. Confirm pick up times and staging arrangements with transport company
6. Check condition of loading ramps and yards.
7. Complete Animal Status Declarations and assemble any veterinary certificates

Step 3: Loading and departure

1. Double check if stock meet fit for transport requirements (check against
2. Ensure all stock have access to water prior to loading.
3. Help load stock – this will ensure they are loaded with minimum stress and
maximum efficiency.
4. Inform graziers or new owners if supplementary feeds have been used.

Transporting vulnerable stock:

1. Lactating - Preparation:

○ Supplement with magnesium 3-4 days either side of transport

○ If using supplementary feed, introduce it gradually over several days prior to
○ Milk prior to being loaded
○ Apply sufficient disinfectant spray to fully cover all teats
○ If going to slaughter send to the closest processing facility

During journey:

○ If journey is longer than 12 hours water must be supplied

○ If journey is longer than 24 hours feed must be supplied
○ Milk at least once every 24 hours

2. Last three months of pregnancy - Preparation:

○ Supplement with magnesium 3-4 days either side of transport

○ Only transport cows that are not likely to give birth during the journey
○ If within 4 weeks of calving date, travel should be less than 2 hrs

During journey:

○ Maximum journey time of 8 hrs

○ Rest periods of 12 hrs between every 8 hours of travel
○ Keep separate from other stock on truck
○ Transport on bottom deck, top deck only suitable if ramp slope is less than 20°

3. Traveling for more than four hours - Preparation:

○ Supplement with magnesium 3-4 days either side of transport

○ If using supplementary feed, introduce it gradually over several days prior to
○ Feed a moderately restricted diet for several days prior to journey

During journey:

○ If journey is longer than 12 hours water must be supplied

○ If journey is longer than 24 hours feed must be supplied
○ Arrange feed etc to be at journey stages -cows must be conditioned to this feed
prior to the journey

4. Cull Cows - Preparation:

○ Organise for stock to be sent to closest processing facility

○ Cull cattle with BCS of less than 3 should be sent direct to processor (not to
saleyards), they may be sent for remedial feeding

During journey:

○ If journey is longer than 12 hours water must be supplied

○ If journey is longer than 24 hours feed must be supplied

5. Unweaned calves - Preparation:

○ Bobby calves must be at least 4 days old

○ Feed at least half of the daily ration within 2 hours of transport
○ Fit to travel – strong enough to withstand travel, healthy and free of disease and
disability, alert and moving freely, navel dry, able to bear weight evenly on all
four limbs, hooves hard
○ Ask for your calves to be transported to the nearest processor.

During the journey:

○ Protect from adverse weather

○ Allow room for calves to lie down
○ Journey as short as possible

Standing Stock Before Transport

Keeping effluent off public roads is the responsibility of all people involved in
transporting stock – the farmer, the stock broker or agent, the transport company, commercial
destination points (Works and sale yards) and local and regional councils. Even though most
stock trucks are fitted with collection tanks, these can overflow very quickly especially in wet
weather if animals are not stood before transport, or if not emptied often enough.

Make sure you stand stock off green feed, with water, for at least 4 hours before
transport. Depending on the scheduled collection time, preparation for the journey and journey
length, you may want to stand them for longer (i.e. from the night before if pick up is very early
in the morning).

Is Your Animal Fit For Transport?

The law takes animal welfare very seriously and has strict rules relating to animal
transport and suffering. The following information is designed to help you decide if an animal is
fit for transport.

1. The person in charge must examine the selected dairy cattle, prior to transport, to ensure
that all animals are fit and healthy for transportation
2. All dairy cattle must be able to stand and bear weight on all four limbs and be fit enough
to withstand the journey without suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress
3. Any animal likely to give birth during transport must not be selected.

Animals must not be transported if they display any injuries, signs of disease, abnormal
behaviour or physical abnormalities that could compromise their welfare during the journey,
unless a current veterinary certificate as to the fitness of the animal for transport is completed.

No signs of injury and sickness – what this means

○ Any injuries, wounds or other skin lesions should be healed and free from any
○ No mastitis, eg hot, swollen udders.
○ The animals are acting normally and are not lethargic or staggering.
○ There is nothing hanging out eg retained fetal membranes, prolapses.
○ Eyes are free from pink eye and discharges, and cancer eye lesions are confined to
the eye.
○ Animals with horns should be transported separately if they are likely to injure
other animals. Horns that are growing towards an animal’s head and are touching
the skin should be shortened more than 7 days before transport.
○ Animals must not have been dehorned or had any other painful husbandry
procedure performed on them within 7 days of transport.

Transporting Stock To Slaughter

If you are sending stock to slaughter they are good to go if you can tick these off:

● BCS 3 or greater (BCS 2.5 to 3 can go direct to slaughter, but not to saleyards, BCS
below 2.5 cannot be transported unless a veterinary certificate is provided)
● Outside milk and meat withholding times
● Animal Status Declaration prepared (including NAIT number from 1 July 2012)
● Off green feed (with water) for at least 4 hours prior to transport, but no longer than 12
● All dairy cattle must be able to stand and bear weight on all 4 limbs and be fit enough to
withstand the journey without suffering unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress.
● Not likely to give birth during the journey
● Milked just before transport or well dried off
● Cows have had magnesium for a few days prior to transport
● If travel time is longer than 4 hours refer to the Preparing Stock for Transport section

How to Milk a Cow

If you find yourself face-to-udder with a cow and are having a hard time getting milk
from your bovine, it's because milking a cow is not as easy as it looks, especially if using a
milking machine. And if the cow is cranky, it can be downright dangerous. Start with step 1 to
learn how to milk a cow properly and safely.

Method 1: By Hand

1. Make sure the cow has a halter and is tied to a sturdy post or held in a stanchion.
2. Clean the teats with soapy water or iodine. (Warm water may help coax or "bring
down" the milk.) Dry the teats, but don't rub or irritate them.
3. Place a bucket underneath the udder. Better yet, hold it between your legs. It takes
practice, but this can be done easily and comfortably. This position reduces the
chance of the cow kicking over the pail of milk.

4. Sit or squat in a position that will allow you to move away quickly if the cow
becomes uncooperative. Sitting cross-legged on the ground, for example, is not
safe. An ordinary milk stool can be fabricated with two 2x4's cut and nailed to
form a "T" - cut to fit your behind and make sure it is low enough to afford
comfortable access to the cow's teats.
5. Apply a lubricant such as Vaseline to your hands to minimize friction.
6. Wrap your warm hands around two of the four teats. Choose diagonal teats (front
left and rear right, for example). Or, try the front teats first, then the back pair.

7. Squeeze the base of the teat, after gently clamping each teat between your
extended thumb and first finger, so that the teat fills your palm as you squeeze
8. Squeeze down to push out the milk, maintaining your grip on the base of the teat
so that the milk doesn't flow back up into the udder. Do not jerk or yank the teats.
This motion is performed by sequentially squeezing your fingers from the middle
to the pinky to force the milk out. Be gentle yet firm. Keep your eyes peeled for
9. Repeat with your other hand. Most people prefer to alternate (right hand, left
hand, right hand, etc.) The downward squeezing motions takes less effort doing it
in alternate steps than all at the same time.
10. Continue until the quarter that you're milking looks deflated. Experienced farmers
can feel the udder to know exactly when all the milk has come down. Often even
looking at the quarter just milked can tell you if it's been emptied enough or not.
11. Move on to milk the other two teats. If you use the diagonal method, switching
sides is not necessary.

Method 2: By Machine

1. Secure the cow to the milking position.

2. Clean the teats.
3. Turn on the milking machine and allow it to build pressure.
4. Hand-milk each teat a few times to let down the milk and check for mastitis.
5. Release the pressure so that suction begins.
6. Place each suction device on each teat. This must be done quickly before the
machine loses its pressure.
7. Wait until the machine draws all of the milk out of the udder, which will become
8. Remove the suction devices from the teats. Many modern milking machines do
not require the milker to manually remove the suction cups. Once one quarter has
been milked dry, they automatically fall off, one by one.
9. Empty the milk into a pail or similar container.
10. Clean the machine. This prevents milk that dries from building up in the machine.

What is the wrong way to milk a cow?

Do not pull so hard on the udder that it causes the cow pain and discomfort, which she'll
show by raising a hind leg or shifting her feet around. Another wrong way is to beat or hit her if
she puts her tail in your face or kicks the pail out or tries to kick you. Anything that is not gentle
or respectful to the cow is the wrong way to milk a cow.

What equipment and facilities are used in milking a cow?

For just a single family milk cow, all you need is a barn with a stanchion to hold the
cow's head, and a pail if you milk by hand. By machine, you'll need a portable single-cow
milking machine that starts with a small motor and has a milk container unit and four suction
cups for milking the cow. For sanitation before and after milking, paper towels, iodine solution,
and gloves (optional, you can clean your hands before milking instead), are good to have to
reduce and eliminate contamination of the milk.

What if the cow moves left or right when I am trying to milk it?

You could possibly have someone on the other side, to help. If not, try altering it against
the pen wall, or another wall.

How often should a cow be milked?

A cow should be milked twice a day - early in the morning and at night when their
production is at their peak and there is less threat of heat stress. For high milk producing cows,
they can be milked thrice a day; morning, afternoon and evening.

Dairy Cattle Hoof Trimming

The reason cows become lame can be quite complex, as many of the factors are
interrelated. However, the main reason cows become lame is most often related to cows walking
on hooves (claws) with a compromised or unbalanced weight bearing surface.

Overloading the cow’s claw due to excessive wear or overgrowth can create a claw that is
sensitive, unstable and more prone to lameness. Therefore, cows’ feet need to be checked and
trimmed for two reasons:

● Restoration of appropriate weight bearing within and between the claws of each foot
● Early identification of claw lesions
It is important to note that not all cows examined will require trimming, as over-trimming
can result in greater incidence of lameness. Always trim your cows under the veterinary

Farm Records Keeping

Farm records are kept for all or some of the following reasons:
1. To satisfy the Receiver of Revenue

This is an essential requirement of record keeping but should not be the sole reason, and a
record system can be designed which satisfies the Receiver and is also useful for other purposes.

2. To assist in financial planning decisions

Financial records, in more detail than those required for the Receiver, can be used for
cash flow planning, enterprise analysis and other purposes.

3. To control labour

This is usually a wages book recording days worked, wages paid, money owed, leave etc.

4. To assist in land management decisions

These include farm maps and grazing, irrigation, fertilizer use, crop yield, areas and
management operations records.

5. To assist in livestock management decisions

These are the records of individual animals and groups of animals, their production,
health, feed use etc.


The brief summary of record types given above illustrates that several sets of records
must be kept, inevitably involving much of the farmer's time. Hence, if records are not to be
more trouble than they are worth, they should satisfy the following criteria:

1. They must be useful

Unless data which is being recorded will at some future time be used (turned into
information) in making management decisions it should not be recorded at all.

2. Records must be kept in such a form that they can be easily converted into

Before keeping a record, the eventual end use must be decided upon so that the form in
which the data are recorded will facilitate later analysis and interpretation. Too often the end use
is not considered, and the usefulness of the data is severely impaired.

3. Record keeping systems must be simple

Dairy farmers have enough to do without burdening themselves with complex record
keeping systems, that are difficult to understand and time consuming to complete, and therefore
nearly impossible to delegate to employees.

4. Duplication must be avoided as much as possible

Some data may have to be recorded more than once in different forms, but this must be
reduced to a minimum. In other words, if a record is to be made in the field, the recording system
should be such that data can be conveniently entered in the field and does not have to be re-
entered back at the office.
5. Records must lead to actions being taken

Unless a record is specifically intended to be used for some future action or in

management planning it should not be kept.


An overview

It is not the purpose of this guide to describe a complete farm record keeping system. A
simple, effective dairy herd record system, which satisfies the criteria listed above, will be

This convenient system can be used to supply information for:-

❖ Effective monitoring of animal performance right from birth.

❖ Evaluation of management and feeding systems.
❖ Individual animal comparisons to assist in breeding, culling and other decisions.
❖ Breed society, milk recording and computer program usage.
❖ Extraction of useful herd indices for evaluation and comparison.
❖ Production of Action Lists for management

Without record keeping successful dairy farming is not possible. Different types of
records which should be kept at dairy farm are:

❖ Record of Animal Strength with their age, Sex, Date of Birth, Date of purchase etc.
❖ Breeding Record
❖ Production Record

❖ Calf Record
❖ Feeding Record
❖ Health Record
❖ Mortality Record
❖ Sale Record
❖ Expenditures and Profit Record
❖ Manpower Record

For successful record keeping, there should be some software or registers for different
records. Table for different types of registers are given below:

Reproduction and Production History Register:

Breeding Register:

Calving Register:

Calf Register:

Growth Record of Young Stock:

Daily Feeding Register:

Month: ……………………….

Daily Milk Record Register:

Date: ……………………….

Health Register:

Mortality Register

Chapter 12

Marketing Farm Dairy Products

One of important factor in dairy farming is market. If you sell milk to dairy collection
unit then you will get less profit but if you sell it directly to customers with having quality
(without adding water) then you will catch market within very fast. It is better to create market
on your own than ordinary selling milk to dairy collection plant.

By making Milk byproducts or by making vermicompost or by strengthening value added

practices of Calf rearing, care and management of each stage of animals you will be finally in
profit (This also require training as well as exposure to different modern farms).

Marketing your products is not a problem in Kenya. Dairy product has huge demand
throughout the Kenya. You can easily sell your products in almost every places of our country.

So, don’t worry about marketing, just take good care of your animals as i am going to enlighten
you on various marketing skills you will need to make your farm profitable.

Before you purchase your first dairy cow, answer this question: How will you sell your
milk? A good marketing plan is an absolute must for a successful farm business. Know your
market and your customers. Start with a few cows and increase the number with increase in milk
demand. Make sure you sell quality milk without adding water. Then consider the best ways to
sell your milk to your customers.

Sell everything to one place

If you have a big farm or live far away from customers, you might want to sell your milk
to one place, such as a milk bar, restaurant, farmer’s cooperation. This is called wholesale
marketing. Selling your milk this way is faster than other ways of selling. It is also a good choice
if you are not comfortable meeting and talking to a lot of people. Wholesale marketing will
probably not make you as much money as selling directly to the customer, and you may not get
paid right away. But it is a simple, easy way of selling your milk.

Selling directly to customers

If you do not have a big farm or if you are a new farmer, it is a good idea to sell your
milk directly to customers. This is called direct or retail marketing. Although you can make more
money and get paid faster this way, you will need more time to sell. It is a good way to sell your
milk and added value milk e.g yogurt if you are a good planner, have time, and enjoy meeting
and talking to people.

How to decide the best retail market

Many farmers sell milk at a farmers market or a roadside stand. Some farmers let
customers pick their own milk from the farm or they supply their milk to consumer homesteads.
Which market is best for you?

The farmer's market

Many people come to the farmer's market to buy farm produce e.g vegetables, milk, meat
e.t.c. You can sell a lot of milk, yogurt, Maziwa lala (sour milk). So you need to bring enough
milk to last the day. You have to plan carefully. If you want to sell your milk at a farmers
market, look for a market that is:

❖ In a busy area
❖ Well known by a lot of customers
❖ Clean and well managed

Roadside stands

People like to stop at roadside stands to buy fresh milk. Roadside stands can be close to
your home or farm or in a busy street. You can sell your milk without traveling far, and you can
make money selling more litres to an extent of buying other farmer`s milk for resell. For
instance, fresh milk, sour milk and yogurt sell well.

Customers who stop at roadside stands like to see an appealing stall, clean and if possible
you can use a milk ATM machine.

If you want to sell your milk at a roadside stand:

❖ Contact county officers to ask whether there are any rules about roadside stands and
❖ Find a place close to a town or city, where people would not have to drive more than 10
miles to reach you.
❖ Find a place where a lot of cars go by. The cars should be going slow enough to be able
to stop. A place next to a stoplight or stop sign is a good place.
❖ Find a place that people can see as they drive by.
❖ Find a place where people can park their cars.
❖ Ask customers what they think about your stand. You can learn a lot about what they
want. This will help you plan for next year.

Pick your own or you-pick

Some customers like going into farms and picking their own milk, mostly customers who
buy in bulk. This is sometimes known as a You-Pick or "U-Pick" farm. The best customers for a
you-pick farm need a lot of milk for canning or freezing. If you are near people who can, freeze,
resell or add value to milk, selling this way may be a good choice.

If you would like to sell your milk this way, first you may need to have restroom and
hand-washing areas for your customers. Selling your milk this way can save you work.

Value addition of milk key in ensuring better returns

Value addition includes grading, cooling, pasteurization, packaging and transportation. In

order to increase the value and shelve life of the Milk it is processed into value added products
such as: butter, cheese, yogurt, Mala, ice cream, powder milk, long life etc.

Processed milk and milk products in Kenya constitute between 20 and 30% (0.395 billion
litres) of the total marketed milk and dairy products an indication that there is a high
preference for unprocessed milk. Some reasons for high preference for unprocessed milk
compared to processed are: relatively cheaper, tastier, higher butter content, in flexible diverse
quantity to customer needs, widely accessible or more within proximity of the consumers
and conservative consumers with high preference for unprocessed milk.

Milk Value Added Products

The products include butter, cream, cheese, yogurt and ghee. Long life milk dried whole
milk and skim milk powders have ready export market but are produced in limited quantities
because of low processing capacity. Cost of equipment is high and only New KCC has invested
in drying plant facility for processing milk powder.

The dairy industry is the most developed of the livestock subsectors. It plays a critical
role in the livelihood of many farmers in Kenya. Growth in the subsector has made Kenya to be
the highest milk producer in Africa.

At the 1,500 acres, Kapsuswa Farm “land of Grass” located at Sugoi area of Uasin Gishu
County, farmers are able to learn first-hand the benefit of investing in dairy farming. On August
14, 2015, the farm hosted 35 farmers drawn from various groups in Laikipia County.

The farmers were particularly interested in learning about value addition and increasing
milk production. The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP)-Laikipia
supported the farmers visit.

Mr. Charles Boit, Group Managing Director of Kapsuswa Farm, SB. Tea Estate Group,
and Ratinwet Farm informed the delegation that it had taken them 20 years to reach where they
are in the dairy subsector.

The three farms specialize in cereal farming, dairy, and tea production. They employ
close to 300 farm workers. Most of the cows are Friesian although there are also Ayrshire, and

Mr. Boit noted that success in the industry depends on a farmer’s ability to select the
correct breed and ensuring good feeding and management. He urged farmers to invest in high-
yield cows.

Initially, the farm used to produce 500 litres of milk per day but this has now increased to
more than 2,600 litres per day. Each cow produces an average of 25 litres while some produce as
much as 40 litres per day. Milked cows are usually around 80-90 in a day. He expects the herd
to grow to 400 cows in a few years.

The dairy unit houses a calving unit, resting, feeding, and milking area for the cows. The
cows feed on different feedlot depending on how much milk they produce.

The farm uses a milking machine. The machine not only reduces labour requirements but
also ensures a better quality milking operation. The machine can milk eight (8) cows at once.

A piping system ensures direct transfer of milk into coolers after milking. The farm has
batch pasteurizers that preserve quality of milk products by destroying spoilage microorganisms
and enzymes that contribute to reduced quality and shelf life of milk.

Also installed are dispensers, dubbed Any Time Milk (ATM) machine. They can
dispense 2,000 litres a day. The piping transfer system ensures that milk does not come into
direct contact with humans.

A calving unit in the farm ensures protection of calves against climatic stress, infections,
and parasites. Mr. Boit believes that proper management of the dairy cow at calving will result in
the birth of a healthy calf and prevent losses in young stocks.

The calves will remain indoors and grow in groups until they attain the required weight
for artificial insemination (AI).

“Calves will never attain genetic potential when not looked at properly. This important
stage needs proper monitoring. Males are sold within two weeks of birth,” said Mr. Boit

He said that a section of maize produced at the farm is for making silage for the dairy
cows. The farm has five silage pits. They make their own dairy meals.

“Like any other agriculture enterprise challenges are there. There is a time when price
fluctuation and milk glut forced farmers to pour milk due to lack of market. Value addition has
now resolved such eventualities,” said Mr. Boit.

Through value addition, the farm is able to sell fresh milk between 60 – 75 kshs per litre
depending on the season while fermented milk retails at between 70-75 Kshs per litre.

Mr. Boit’s parting short is that dairy farming requires huge investments. The success
enjoyed at the farm has taken 20 years. Farmers should also go for high pedigree cows, as they
can be the difference between a successful and struggling dairy farmer.

My milk ATMs offer farmers better deal

Geoffrey Gitonga (left) with a vendor at EastMatt Supermarket in Nairobi, where he sells

In Summary

● The machines have an in-built cooler and use electricity to store and dispense milk. It
works like an ATM machine where consumers can key in the amount of milk they want
and pay.

● The Kenya Revenue Authority doesn’t consider dispensers dairy equipment to attract
minimal tax, hence, importing the ATMs attracts all manner of duties.
● Farmers should add value to their produce by pasteurising to reap maximum profits from
their milk. It may be expensive at the beginning, but it pays to add value.

My friends usually tell me that besides banks, I am the only other person in the county
who has Automated Teller Machines (ATM).

Well, that is true, but mine are not ATMs in the original meaning of the word, because
they do not dispense money. My machines dispense milk. I prefer to call them milk dispensers.

I run over 20 machines, through my company Farming Solutions, in different

supermarkets in Nairobi, Kiambu, Eldoret, Bungoma, Busia and Machakos. The supermarkets
include Naivas, Uchumi, Saltes, Eastmatt and Mulleys.

The machines have an in-built cooler and use electricity to store and dispense milk. It
works like an ATM machine where consumers can key in the amount of milk they want and pay.


Consumers come with their clear bottles or can purchase them from supermarkets. Many
supermarkets, milk bars and businesspeople have adopted this mode of distribution as it is
considered hygienic and there is no wastage.

In addition, milk dispensed from these ATMs is cheaper compared to that packaged in
500ml packets.

My main source of pasteurised milk is Kinangop Dairy, a farmers’ cooperative based in
the town. They get the milk from farmers, pasteurise and then sell to me.

I go to collect the milk from the dairy, and another major farmer in Kahawa Sukari,

Many firms buy a litre of milk at Sh.30, but I buy the pasteurised milk at Sh.55 per litre.
The milk dispensers are changing the supply and distribution of milk as consumers can get
quality milk for as low as Sh.5 for 77ml.

Farmers who want to supply their milk to me or to other dispensers must have a small
plant where they first pasteurise it.

If they cannot afford a processing plant individually, they can get into groups or co-
operatives to share the cost of processing the milk. Pasteurised milk is more marketable than

Milk is very delicate, so it must be handled with a lot of care. That is why before we buy
the milk, it has to go through tests to determine its density and acidity.

There is good business in milk because it is widely consumed. I sell my milk at Sh.65 a
litre, which means I get a profit of Sh.10 for every litre.

I sell about 500 litres of milk per dispenser every day, which translates to a profit of
Sh.5,000 per dispenser.

I went into milk selling business sometime in 2011. Before then, I was running an
agrovet business in Eldoret until 2007 when I relocated to Nairobi due to the post-election

I had also worked for an agricultural company soon after completing my Bachelor of
Science degree in Agriculture from Egerton University.

Upon landing in Nairobi, I realised something interesting. There was a lot of demand for
quality and affordable milk, yet it was only sold in packets.

I saw the gap and decided to fill it with my machines.

My initial investment was Sh.2 million, which was from my savings and a loan. I used it
all to import my first milk dispenser from Italy, which I installed at a milk bar I owned in
Nairobi’s Nyayo Embakasi estate.

The response was overwhelming, to say the least. To get into supermarkets, I drafted a
proposal and took it to Uchumu Supermarket. They liked my idea and we got into a partnership.
I installed my milk dispenser and we agreed on a commission in late 2011.

Uchumi was my first big selling point, the other supermarkets came later.

I also import and sell the milk dispensing machines to individuals and supermarkets.

The smallest milk dispenser, with a capacity of 200 litres goes for Sh.650,000, and largest
with a capacity of 1,200 litres goes for Sh.1.5 million.

The importation business seems rosy but it is not because one pays huge taxes. The
Kenya Revenue Authority doesn’t consider dispensers dairy equipment to attract minimal tax,
hence, importing the ATMs attracts all manner of duties. To save on cost of importation, I have
resorted to importing the dispensers in parts, and then I assemble them locally.


Through my company, I have employed 20 people, among them technicians who install
the machines, milk vendors and those who ferry the milk to various dispensers countrywide.

I am happy that I am now able to assist dairy farmers get the most out of their produce by
purchasing milk at higher prices.

At 42, I am living my dream. Growing up on my parent’s farm in Lanet, Nakuru, I was

fascinated by farming. This is where I believe my interest in agribusiness started. I am not be
doing actual farming, but I am in the value chain, offering farmers better prices.

My greatest challenge is to find enough pasteurised milk because most farmers offer raw
milk, which is against the Kenya Dairy Board regulations.

Farmers should add value to their produce by pasteurising to reap maximum profits from
their milk. It may be expensive at the beginning, but it pays to add value.

However, I must acknowledge that pasteurisation is an expensive process, especially for

farmers. In Bungoma and Eldoret for example, there is only one milk processor in each of the
regions, which gives us challenges because we cannot get pasteurised milk. That is why we are
asking farmers to form cooperatives.

My next business is to invest in machines that dispense yoghurt, fermented milk and
liquid cooking oil.

11 Steps to Successful Dairy Farm Marketing

With a little forethought, you can create successful marketing plan for your farm that will
expand your customer base and increase your profits.

The list of potential income streams for your farm is only limited by your interest, time
and imagination. Your farm marketing plan starts with a simple list of all of the products and
services you currently offer or want to offer in the future e.g selling milk and milk products,
offering dairy consultancy services at your farm e.t.c. A successful plan can help expand your
customer base and lead to additional revenue.

1. Identify your farm’s market.

If asked the question, “Who are you marketing your farm product to?” your first instinct
might be to say “Anyone who will buy.” But if you put some thought into it you’ll realize the
answer is much more complex. Do women or men buy more frequently from you? Are your
customers young, middle-aged or retired? Do they belong to a certain ethnic group? Do your
buyers tend to be of a certain income level? Do they live in a particular area or are they
geographically dispersed?

If your farm already has customers, think of your best ones. Who are they and how would
you describe them? If you’re just starting out and don’t have customers yet, observe your
potential competitors and their customer base. By knowing who your customers or prospects are,
you can increase the likelihood they will buy from you by tailoring your marketing message to
their needs and desires.

Keep in mind that your target demographic might be different for the different products
and services you offer. For instance, your milk buyers may be people in your county, Value
added milk may be people from city a few hours away, and your breed cow buyers might be
spread all across the country.

2. Set your farm apart.

It’s important for any business to establish its unique selling proposition, or USP. A USP
is the answer to the question, “Why should someone do business with me instead of my
competition?” What unique benefits does your farm offer? Freshness, quality, personal service,
rarity … these can all be part of your USP.

A good USP is a clear, simple and concise statement of the benefits you offer. Along with
your product line and target demographic, your USP becomes your North Star, always guiding
you even when things seem foggy and the future uncertain.

Spend some time creating your USP and write it down in a prominent spot, be it in the
gardening shed, barn or office. Your USP should be kept front and center as a constant reminder
of your farm’s purpose and direction.

Now that you’ve established what you’re selling, whom you’re selling it to and what
makes it different, you’re ready to get down to the nitty-gritty aspects of implementing a
marketing plan. Most marketing plans incorporate a variety of components. Among those you
will need to consider include a logo, tagline, website, association membership, advertising,
events, customer service, timing and budget.

3. Create a farm logo.

Your farm’s logo can be something as simple as your farm name in a distinctive font, or
it can be more intricate and include illustrated elements that pertain to your product or farm
name. A logo should project a business image based on your goals and objectives, and elicit a
general feeling for your brand.

While you can create a farm logo on your computer that is suitable for desktop printing,
if you plan on expanding your marketing efforts into packaging, professionally printed materials
and signage, you might want to enlist the help of a professional graphic designer. Sign makers,
embroiderers and commercial printers all have specific requirements for file format and quality
that is difficult to achieve with most home or small-business software. A graphic designer can
help you achieve a more polished look and will be able to provide you with the specific file
formats you’ll need later on.

If you decide to have your logo professionally designed, finding the right designer is
important. Do they know your business or businesses similar to yours? Do they have a style you
find appealing? If you want illustrated elements in your logo, can they design these for you or are
they limited to using readily available clip art?

The designer should provide you with a few versions of your logo including a high-
resolution file for print use (300 dpi), a low-resolution file for web use (72 dpi) and some type of
vector file format for embroidery use.

4. Launch a website.
There’s no denying it—today’s farmer needs to be technologically savvy, and for most of
us, an effective farm marketing plan includes having a website. A website is cost effective and
reaches a wide number of customers. Whether you use your site as a static farm brochure to get
your name out or actually sell products online, a website can help take your marketing to the next
level without a huge investment.

5. Join farm associations.

Association membership can also be a cost-effective way to market your farm and its
products. Membership fees are generally modest, and benefits are many.

6. Attend farm-related events

Be it festivals, farmers’ markets, seminars, demonstrations or farm open houses, events

provide you with an excellent opportunity to market your products in a hands-on environment.
Just as some buyers aren’t comfortable buying from catalogs, some of your customers are likely
to want one-on-one contact with you and your products or animals before making a purchase

Many people buy on impulse. If something appeals to them, they will buy it. They see it,
really like it, buy it, and later decide what they will do with it.

7. Provide good customer service.

Many times the best marketing practice is also the cheapest to implement. This is never
truer than in the marketing benefit of good customer service. Good customer service doesn’t cost
any more to deliver than bad customer service, but bad customer service can literally cost you
your business.
8. Establish a marketing budget and calendar.

In your startup years, your farm marketing budget might be 5 to 10 percent of your gross
sales figure, but as time goes on and word-of-mouth begins to work for you, your marketing
budget might drop to 2 to 3 percent of gross sales. Creating a marketing budget and calendar for
your marketing year is a good way to set goals and keep yourself on track.

If your farm business has a natural downtime (as many farms do), this is a great time to
plan your marketing. You’ll have fewer distractions, less stress and will be able to come up with
more creative ideas than when you’re in the height of your busy season. Marketing isn’t hard to
do, it’s just easy to put off doing when it seems like a million tasks are more pressing.

9. Evaluate your success.

The success of your farm marketing plan can be gauged in many different ways. Ask
yourself these questions after you’ve given your newly implemented marketing plan time to
work (generally six to 12 months):

● Did I sell more?

● Did I make a larger profit?
● Did my farm products sell more quickly?
● Are there some potential customers that might turn into sales in the coming year as a
result of this year’s marketing?
● Did I retain more customers?
● Did I get new customers?
● Were my existing customers more satisfied?
● Was my job easier and more fun?

Over time, as your farm business matures, you will undoubtedly expand your marketing
horizons, be it sprucing up your product packaging, having brochures professionally printed,
sending out press releases, or getting signage made for your farm store or show booth. There will
always be a continuing stream of marketing possibilities to consider. Keep an open mind. If
there’s something you can’t justify financially today but think would be a great marketing idea,
in a year your increasing sales might make it possible.

Chapter 13

Dairy Farming Success Stories In Kenya

How Pokea Farm in Njoro makes over 600,000/= from dairy farming

The vehicles leave a cloud of dust on the murram road that meanders to Pokea Farm in
Njoro Sub-county, some 15km from Nakuru town. It has not rained for about two weeks and the
dust is reaching unbearable levels, especially for the residents living near the road.

Adjacent farms hosting several crops that include maize and wheat are equally choking in
dust. A signpost with the inscriptions “Pokea Dairy Farm, distributors of Hoisteins genetics for
longevity and fitness cows built to last from Germany. Ask for artificial insemination services,”
informs us that we have arrived at our destination.

“Welcome to Pokea Farm,” farmer James Ndung’u says as he ushers us into the 17-acre
farm that he has built to one of the finest dairy outfits in Kenya. He is not only a top breeder but

also a leading milk producer, supplying his produce to Brookside Dairy, Njoro Farmers
Cooperative Society and individuals.

His Holstein Friesian animals are distinctively black and white, although some light
brown animals can also be spotted from far. They are sparkling clean, are big and bulky with
sagging udders dripping with milk.

The cows have short horns and weigh between 500kg and 650kg, according to the

Away from the cows, the cowsheds are well-ventilated with fine timber dust that is
changed at least thrice a week to ensure high levels of hygiene making the beddings. The
drinking troughs have clean water while the feeding mangers had some hay during our visit.

“Eight acres is under Boma Rhodes grass, napier grass is on two acres while maize is on
four acres. Sorghum occupies one acre, lucerne a quarter acre while the rest host barns, milking
parlour and grazing field,” says Ndung’u of his meticulously planned farm.


The enterprising farmer has 60 cows, 30 of which are pedigree and from the current 10
lactating stock, he gets an average of 400 litres of milk each day.

His cows produce about 40 litres a day each, a feat that many farmers dream of. But there
is one which offers up to 55 litres.

“This is the magic cow. It gives me the most,” says Ndung’u as he strokes the animal. “I
have never treated it against any diseases apart from now when I am closely monitoring mastitis
as it is getting old.”

And he has a piece of advice: “If you want to reap big from dairy farming, invest in your
breeds because what you put in is what you get.”

The Holstein Friesian pedigree animal has brought him fame and fortune.

The ‘champion’ produces an average of 44 litres of milk a day, hitting the over 50 litres
some days, with no problem with mastitis. At between Sh.35 and Sh.50 per litre, it means the
cow, which is now nine years old, earns Ndung’u a fortune.

When he bought semen from the US at Sh.7,000 sometimes back, recounts Ndung’u,
some farmers chided him, saying he was wasting money yet he could go for cheap semen of

“But I do not regret. Every time dairy farmers ask me the secret of success, my answer is
very simple: The choice of high quality semen is the first step to running a profitable dairy
enterprise because you are assured of a top breed with minimal disease concerns,” Ndung’u, who
started the business in 1979 with one cow after investing Sh.50,000 loan from Agricultural
Finance Corporation, says.

Every Tuesday, Pokea Farm is a beehive of activity as farmers from across the country
and outside assemble there seeking fresh ideas on how to boost their milk production.

Farmers who come as a group are charged Sh.300 per person while individuals pay
Sh.500. We found four filled visitors’ books signed by guests from Kenya, US, Norway,
Germany, Hungary, South Africa, Zambia, and even Somalia.

Ndung’u, whose body frame and energy does not betray his 80 years, engages in the best
animal husbandry practices.

Once a calf is born, it is critical that it develops a straight top line by making it almost
skinny to prepare for a high milk production in future.


“This is a secret that not many farmers know. To make a calf produce that straight top
line, give it salt, hay and water in the first three months and reduce the consumption of early
concentrates. The calf will look ill-fed with protruding ribs but this is an indication that the veins
are now stronger and will allow faster blood movement and increase food efficiency resulting
later to more milk production,” says the former primary school teacher.

Dr Permius Migwi, a veterinary expert from Egerton University, says the feeding of
animals with salts and adequate minerals help to build a strong backbone.

Photo: Mr Ndung’u with his dairy cows at his Pokea Dairy Farm in Njoro, Nakuru County.

“Minerals and good feeding in the early stages is crucial as it culminates in a strong
backbone,” says Dr Migwi.

According to Ndung’u, raising healthy animals has a lot to do with managing a cow’s
stress, an area many farmers score poorly.

“A cow also needs enough rest and should not be moved from one point to another
unnecessarily as this will stress it and interfere with its milk production system,” says Ndung’u, a
father of three.

“At the same time the animals should be left to relax after milking and should not be
moved hurriedly.”

Cows at Pokea Farm are bathed twice a week with hot water mixed with Sunlight
powder. Special attention is given to the udder.

“We also clean the cowsheds twice a day to make sure teats are not infected with mastitis
or other diseases.”

Besides the animals, the more than 20 staff on the farm too maintain high-level of

“There is no point of having a clean cow that is being handled by a dirty worker as this
will definitely affect the health of the animal. All my workers bath before handling animals,”
says Ndung’u, who has invested heavily in training staff. He also spends Sh.300,000 on salary

Training has equipped his workers with knowledge to detect problems an animal has and
the remedy to take.

Ndungu feeds his dairy cows on napier grass, Rhodes grass, lucerne, maize and sorghum
silage, which is nutritious and contains energy and protein.

“I mix a tonne of silage with 20kg of dried pyrethrum to curb aflatoxin. You have to feed
a cow according to its weight. We feed a cow that weighs 650kg with 30kg silage and 20kg
roughage twice a day,” he says, noting the animals are fed at 9am, 1pm and 5pm.

“If a dairy farmer strictly adheres to such a feeding programme, which includes
concentrates, the animals will remain healthy and produce more milk.”


Unlike many farmers, he does not bury his silage in the ground. He harvests his fodder at
dough stage and covers it in a canvas and then puts soil on top, avoiding excess moisture.

He sells heifers at between Sh.150,000 and Sh.250,000 while pedigree cows go for
between Sh.300,000 and Sh.600,000. His clients range from the small farmer to who-is-who in

“I import Friesian Holstein sexed semen from Germany to serve my cows, which
guarantees me the calves born are all female,” says Ndung’u, who also sells semen to farmers at
between Sh.500 and Sh.9,600.

Interestingly, Ndung’u has not embraced milking machines, noting his aim is to teach the
community how to milk cows with a lot of emphasis on hygiene as most of those who come to
visit his farm own one or two cows and do not need machines.

However, he says he has plans to expand the farm, which is managed by his wife Miriam
Wangui, and install a milking machine.

His animals are vaccinated against diseases such as lump-skin, foot and mouth and East
Coast Fever.

Recordkeeping and a strict business plan is also part of the high milk yield strategy on the
farm. “All the details of every cow, including the artificial insemination date, date of birth,
diseases and milk production, among others, are documented,” says Ndung’u whose animals are
registered with the Kenya Stud Book.

Dairy cow handlers rehearse for a parade at Pokea Dairy Farm, Njoro, ahead of the
Annual Stock Breeders Show at Jamhuri Park, Nairobi. Mr Ndung’u’s dairy cows are frequent
participators in the event.

Ndung’u has drilled a borehole at a cost of Sh.4 million that supplies 10,000 litres of
water in two hours for the animals.


His success in dairy farming has put Kenya on the global dairy map as he won the
prestigious Golden Award for Commercial Prestige in Madrid, Spain in 2014.

He received overwhelming support from 112 countries and 7,000 companies in the dairy
industry across the globe.

Ndung’u has also received awards as a top breeder in all local trade fairs he has attended,
and currently, he is preparing for the stock breeders’ show slated for July 21 at Jamhuri Park in

One of his biggest challenges is poor commercial feeds and substandard minerals, which
affects milk production. The turnover of workers is another challenge as he is forced to invest in
training of staff who seek greener pastures elsewhere.

Diseases such as foot and mouth, mastitis and lump skin too are a menace, though he has
managed to keep them at bay for now.

One piece of advice he always gives farmers is that they should treat their animals like
newly-born babies and make sure they are vaccinated against diseases, just like children. They
must also make sure they have the best feeds in their formative years.

He plans to retire and pass the baton to his son John Karanja who lives in the US and has
shown a keen interest in dairy farming.

Karanja plans to return home and take over the business.


What experts say On milking machine and pedigree cows:

● Dr Tobias Onyango, a livestock expert at the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock
Organisation, advises that if a farmer has at least five lactating pedigree animals, he
should invest in milking machines.
● A human being is bound to become tired milking 10 cows, says Dr Onyango, noting to
avoid mastitis, the udder must be completely drained.
● To end up with pedigree animals, farmer James Ndung’u advises that one must get
quality semen from selected bulls that are famous in functional traits like good health and
high yielding milk production.
● Heifers should be inseminated from 18 to 20 months as they are mature enough. The calf
should be separated from the mother after five days and fed separately for three months
before it’s taken to the main shed.
● The feeding regime of the animals should be maintained throughout its life span. One
must ensure the animal develops a straight top line by reducing the early concentrates in
the first three months. Feed the animal with salt, hay and water. This will make sure it has
a strong top line and veins to spread the blood and improve food efficiency in their
bodies. Deworming is also critical and guard against mastitis by observing high hygiene

I make Sh. 1.2 million per month from dairy farming
success story of Mary Wambui

Mary Wambui still laughs at the thought of the antics that characterised her family’s trips
to their rural home in Lari, Kiambu County a decade ago. Her second-born daughter, then a
toddler, would always force them to make stopovers so that she could tease sheep that were
grazing by the roadside. The family did not own a single domestic animal.

“It was these awkward moments that to an extent, prompted us to buy three bulls in
2006,” explains Wambui. “However, it is after we brought in some five heifers that I realised my
passion for animal rearing; I have not looked back since”. Today, Wambui is no ordinary farmer.
She is one of the leading dairy farmers practicing zero grazing in her county. Her Mung’ere
Farm in Lari’s Gatamaiyu Division is home to 103 cows, 53 of which are lactating. In a day, the
cows produce between 1,100 and 1,500 litres of milk, with a current herd rate of 22 litres.

The most prolific cow produces 45 litres daily. With every litre fetching Sh.35, Wambui
earns Sh1.2 million in gross income from milk sale in a month. She puts the net income at
around Sh.300,000. The income is supplemented by the sale of kienyeji chicken, sheep, goats
and ducks also reared on the farm. “This is the last thing I would have imagined I would
ventured into in 2006,” she states.

Paradoxically, her farm sits in the middle of a tea zone where dairy farming is rarely
practiced. The high perimeter wall and tall trees around it gives little hint of the beauty within.
But get past two green gates and a spectacle unfolds. Metres away from the farmhouse stands a
spacious shed housing more than 30 calves, with an expansive paddock. An adjacent shed
encloses 16 heifers that are ready for servicing. Fourteen expectant cows occupy another shed,
with a spacious maternity paddock on standby for those about to calve. The milking cows occupy
more than ten other immaculately-designed sheds.

“I acquired these four acres of land when I decided to go large-scale, moving out from
my father-in-law’s land where I had started,” Wambui states. “Animals occupy two acres, while
we grow nappier grass on the other two”. The mother of three had a flying start to dairy farming,
buying several heifers every week despite the fact that it was a trial and error venture. Most
matured with no major setbacks, inspiring her to invest in more heifers.

To maximise on her business, the farmer has for the past five years, improved her breeds
using semen imported from Spain. “This has given the cows a better dairy conformation and
boosted milk production,” she says.

The milking cows consume an average of 40 kilos of foliage (hay and nappier grass) as
well as ten kilos of concentrates consisting of dairy, meal, maize jam and mchicha every day.
Seven workers milk the cows three times daily, with each specifically assigned to seven animals.
“I prefer hand-milking as it creates employment,” the farmers says. In total, the farm has 22
employees, among them a farm manager, a vet and a breeding officer.

While she takes delight in her achievement, her journey in farming has not been without
hurdles. Common among them is the seasonal scarcity of water and foliage. “I initially relied on
a seasonal river and had to buy water every time it dried up. I had no option but to drill a
borehole,” she notes. Hay for the cattle is still sourced from as far as Nakuru, Mwea and Ruiru.
Wambui, who visits her farm daily, reveals that disloyal workers also used to give her sleepless
nights. “At some point, I had reckless workers who would milk the cows partially and leave the
sheds dingy. In 2010, we lost eight calves in a month as a result of diaorrhea due to poor hygiene
and substandard vets,” she says.

“It was so hard to manage diseases but the situation stabilised after I brought specialised
staff on board.” The farmer sells her milk at the Uplands Premium Dairies where she is the main
supplier. The opening of the plant in her neighbourhood, four months ago, offered massive
respite. “The three plants I dealt with previously bought the milk at low and varying prices.
When milk supply was generally high, they would keep off this area altogether, resulting in
enormous wastage of milk,” she explains.

Wambui urges prospective dairy farmers to utilise expert knowledge, constantly improve
on breeds and more importantly, be patient. The farmer is happy that dairy farming has impacted
positively on her daughters. “They love the cows so much that they spend every weekend on the
farm. Majority of the cows here are actually named after their classmates,” she quips.

Milking it: helping dairy farmers prosper in rural Kenya

Dairy farming is big business in Kenya, but small cooperatives need support to make it
pay in a competitive market

Competing with large companies like Brookside means competing against their access to
better strategy advisors, closer political links and greater influence over market pricing.

When speaking to Mary Njeri Kamande, it's hard to believe this successful dairy farmer
was once struggling to make ends meet. Working in downtown Nairobi, she barely saw her

children and earned very little. She decided to leave the city for Kiambu to become a dairy
farmer in the hope of a better life.

About an hour's drive from Nairobi, Kiambu is known as 'Nairobi's bedroom', due to its
function as a commuter hub for the capital's urban employees. When Mary arrived here, she had
just enough capital to buy one cow of good breed, worth approximately Ksh. 40,000. Several
years later, she now owns a sizeable paddock with 15 cows and a small litter of pigs.

So how was this possible? Dairy farmers like Mary have at least two options for selling
the milk they produce. One option is 'hawking' (selling milk to local regulars or passers-by),
which offers high sales prices of as much as Ksh.50-60 per litre (50p). However, demand is
relatively low and involves risks for the consumer, since the milk is unpasteurised. The more
stable option is joining a cooperative, which offers a set demand and supply model with a price
of Ksh.35 per litre (30p). The cooperatives also guarantee the quality of milk, as it is tested upon
purchase and processed industrially before being resold.

The choice of stability over irregular profitability explains the proliferation of

cooperatives over the last 50 years in Kenya. The country has close to 13,000 established units
today, facilitating market access for more than 1.5m dairy farmers. The dairy industry
contributes to 14% of agricultural GDP and currently grows at 5% per year. Dairy cooperatives
assist farmers in issues such as loans, artificial insemination and livestock rationing, with direct
implications for milk production. A well fed cow can produce as much as 40 litres of milk a day,
while a cow without appropriate dry food risks producing as little as 8-10 litres – only 25% of
the 'targeted' production.

Mary belongs to the Ndumberi cooperative. With more than 50 years of tradition,
Ndumberi has 5000 members in its area. Nevertheless, the scale of its milk production is small in
comparison to competitors such as Brookside, Kenya's largest dairy company. Brookside has a
large market share and presence in regions where it enjoys almost a monopoly. Consequently,
Brookside buys a litre of milk for as little as Ksh.29 (25p), making competition tough for smaller
cooperatives. The Kenya Markets Trust (KMT), is helping the Ndumberi cooperative do better in
this tough market.

KMT is a DFID-financed initiative supported by Adam Smith International that attempts
to translate support to smaller dairy cooperatives such as Ndumberi into better sales results and
improved livelihoods for the local small-scale farmers.

Competing with large companies like Brookside means competing against their access to
better strategy advisors, closer political links and greater influence over market pricing. With
support from KMT, cooperatives can receive access to innovative market solutions, business
strategy advice, and new business partners. KMT also supports dairy farmers by providing
technical assistance in business skills, such as book-keeping.

As a successful entrepreneur, Mary has joined this competitive cooperative to guarantee

her income. She makes a comfortable Ksh.130,000-150,000 of guaranteed income every month.
Furthermore, she makes use of the business advice given to train her staff. The farm gives her
family access to a better quality of life: Mary has done well and she has enabled both her sons to
graduate with degrees in commerce.

When jokingly asked whether she would prefer to sell her land and buy a larger property
in neighbouring Tanzania, she laughs: "Why would I do that? I have all I need in Kiambu". But
the dairy highway she embarked upon after leaving Nairobi has been a bumpy ride. Staying
competitive takes hard work and loyal business partners, the closest ones being her sons. "It has
to be a joint effort", Mary says. Dairy is undoubtedly big business in Kenya, but for the
Kamandes, it's a family affair.

From a simple dairy farm to a cash cow

It’s dream come true for Kinyanjui who started with two cows but now makes yoghurt
and purifies water. With its udder seemingly about to burst, the dairy cow named Kayole leaves
its shed walking in measured steps as if it is in a beauty contest.

It stands at a wheelbarrow full of hay on the farm in Naivasha and starts to chew the
fodder before it is led into a milking shed. It is about 4pm and this is the third time its handler is
milking the Friesian cow that is the toast of the farm because it produces an average of 40 litres
of milk a day.

“Its big udder makes it difficult for it to walk, thus, the measured steps that have made
some of my friends describe it as proud,” says Geoffrey Kinyanjui, the owner of the farm.

The animal is his favourite at the farm that hosts 28 dairy cows, 11 of which are lactating,
each producing an average of 25 to 40 litres a day.

Kinyanjui attributes the difference in milk production between Kayole and the others to
feeds and genetics.

The thirst to supply milk to neighbours and earn extra money to boost his earnings made
Kinyanjui venture into dairy farming in 2010. Living in the peri-urban Kayole estate in
Naivasha, getting fresh milk was a challenge for residents. Kinyanjui saw a commercial

Armed with Sh.140,000, the draughtsman bought two dairy cows from a farm in
Kinangop after building a shed.

“The two cows produced more than 40 litres per day but this was not enough to supply to
my clients,” he recounts. With demand rising, Kinyanjui increased his herd about a year later to
four. However, that proved to be only a temporary measure as demand for milk kept on rising.

“I realised that the only way to satisfy the demand was to go commercial by increasing
my herd and expanding my zero-grazing units.”

His architectural background came in handy. He built modern zero-grazing units on a

quarter of his three-acre farm, which also doubles as the family homestead.


The beauty of his architectural ingenuity is laid bare as one enters the zero-grazing unit.

Each cow has a cubicle for feeding, with the troughs made of concrete. The resting
cubicles a few metres away, on the other hand, ensure the comfort of the 28 animals that have
multiplied from four in the past five years.

“I have two full-time workers who clean the pens every day. A pen must be cleaned even
twice a day to remove dung and slurry which cause diseases like mastitis,” says Kinyanjui,
adding that his cows have not been affected by major diseases due to good hygiene and because
he contracts a veterinary officer to check on them regularly.

The lactating herd gives him an average of 250 litres a day that he sells at Sh.60 a litre in
Naivasha Town.


He feeds the animals mainly on hay he buys from Delamare Estates and other
concentrates amounting to the 25 per cent of the daily ration as recommended. He sells some of
the milk raw and adds value to the other by making yoghurt.

“I have contracted several farmers from Kinangop who supply me 1,800 litres of milk for
my yoghurt business. I have been making yoghurt manually, processing 800 litres a day, but I am
in the process of acquiring a mini-plant valued at Sh.10 million to boost my production to 8,000
litres,” says Kinyanjui of the processing plant located in his farm.

To make yoghurt, he uses the following ingredients: fresh milk, food colours and
flavours. They are mixed, heated and then cooled. His yoghurt, which is certified by the Kenya
Bureau of Standards, is branded Queency and he sells half a litre at Sh.70 in Naivasha and in

“I am yet to (meet the needs) of any of my markets, but I remain hopeful that the
purchase of the mini-plant will be my turning point.”

Kinyanjui says he has hired four fully qualified Dairy Training Institute graduates to help
produce yoghurt.

His greatest impediment remains frequent power outages, which he says slow his
production capacity. The current dry spell has also hit hard the milk production of farmers who
supply him with the produce, making him cut yoghurt production.

The farmer further sells heifers at no less than Sh.200,000.

Kinyanjui has diversified his business into water purification, riding on the success of his
dairy unit. “From my healthy dairy farming bank account, I was able to secure a loan from the
bank to undertake water purification.”

Though still nascent, the Sh.1 million business looks promising as the farmer has sunk a
borehole and has started selling purified water at Sh.30 for a 500ml bottle, pulling another first
among the community members.

“Currently, my market is mainly Naivasha Town, but I am in the process of looking for
distributors to market my Queency water brand.” Dr Titus Lanyasunya, the director of the Dairy
Research Institute in Naivasha, says making homemade yoghurt is an easy process that any
farmer can do to boost his earnings.

“You need to heat the milk to 72 degrees centigrade for at least three minutes or until it
starts to bubble. Stir the milk gently as it heats to make sure the milk does not boil over. Heating
the milk changes the protein structure so that it sets as a solid instead of separating thereby
improving the consistency of the resulting yoghurt. This is the basic, but one needs lessons
particularly on using food colour and flavour.”


One of the most profitable farming techniques is dairy farming in Kenya. Think about it,
you take care of God’s creature and it rewards you with milk for your family and also for sale.
All this, without having to go through the traffic jams of the so called Nairobi elite.

I’ve always had an interest in dairy cows ever since my grandparents insisted that for me
to eat breakfast in their home, I must go milk the cow. Ours was called “Mwameri”. It was a tall
black and white cow that had very big horns. As I was milking it, under the watchful eye of my
grandfather, I just couldn’t keep from staring at those horns.

For a long time I believed that “Mwameri” was a superstar in dairy cows. Think about it,
she could produce 3 liters of milk every day. We would end up selling 1 litre to neighbours.

The facts is that like every Kenyan farmer at that time, we had a lot to learn about dairy

As I came to learn later, “Mwameri” was a Holstein breed and 3 litres in one sitting
meant that we weren’t taking care of dairy cow welfare.

A lot of farming techniques in Kenya still rely on Mother Nature to grant you one genius
of a cow that makes you a millionaire. This doesn’t need to be the case. Talking to a few dairy
farmers in the country, these are some of the tips they have for better dairy farming in Kenya.

Start with Quality Animal Husbandry Choices

If you are looking for a fast track to animal farming hell, then let your precious cow
become the village lay. Always ensure that you have quality animal husbandry. Start with your
local government vet. If he is not up to par, visit KARI. They have some of the best animal
husbandry experts in Kenya and I know for a fact that they give solid information.

Openly seek out farming consultants. I find that it is better to pay one consultant a few
thousands in one day than get a cow that I will feed for 2 years and still never get any profit from

Using consultants can help you figure out complex issues and make informed decisions.
The fact that they visit multiple dairy farms means that they have a unique perspective on your
farming needs.

Have the Dairy Cow Welfare as Your Top Priority

I was watching TV news recently and saw a farmer in Nyandarua laying mattresses for
his cows. My son was laughing. I had to remind him that since this dairy farmer was richer than
we are, he should be laughing at us.

Sometimes new ideas are cloaked in old school behaviour. There is a reason why they
say, treat others as you would like them to treat you. Of course, if someone treated me nicely, I
would give them more than they asked for. So taking good care of your cattle means they reward
you with better milk yields.

Don’t overdo it. Proper cattle farm management means that you take care of your
workers as well as your livestock.

Buy Your Dairy Cows Wisely for better dairy farming in Kenya

One of the most important farming facts is that if you buy your dairy cattle unwisely, you
will pay dearly.

Always buy young cows for your new stock. Younger, non-lactating animals less likely
to have been exposed to mastitis pathogens so you lower your risk.

Remember to buy only from a healthy herd. Though your seller may insist that their dairy
farms are a fantastic, don’t trust them if they don’t have a dairy diary. In fact, keep any new dairy
cows away from your current stock until you are satisfied that they do not have any diseases.

Smart Farming Means Well Trained Staff

Do not hire farm workers who do not like farming. I say so because we know that
farming is a calling not a job. Hiring farm hands who are only doing this for the money means
that you have poor farm management leading to poor milk yields.

Invest in training your farming staff. Do not call them labor any more and think of them
as partners in your dairy business. There is a dairy farmer in Nyeri who having noted how his
staff love going out of the farm started organizing farming trips to other dairy farms.

Keep Clean Cows and Milking Schedule

I wanted to re-emphasize the need for a clean herd. It is not enough to see a cow that was
producing 20 ltrs of milk a day drop to 15 ltrs. You need to figure out what is wrong quickly and
have a treatment protocol in place. Your herd welfare is essential to your success so keep them
happy and clean at all times.

Clean their house and hire someone to do it. If they can’t do it as well, then do it yourself.
You will find that cleaning a dairy shed can relieve a lot of stress and save you the money of
going to the gym. And anyway, who doesn’t want to be in the news for being the best dairy
farmer in his region?

The idea that farming in Kenya is not profitable for the small scale farmer is beyond
logic. When you think that more than 50% of Kenyans earn less than ksh.30,000 per month,
while a good cow can earn you that amount, it makes no sense that more of our youth aren’t
going into farming. Farming facts are that a dairy farmer is likely to be a happier person
especially if they have the animal welfare in their hearts.

Well that’s it, my dairy farming ebook with all i have learned along the way of talking to
farmers in Kenya. I’m sure that there’s more that you can add to this.

It is my hope that this ebook has been beneficial and enlightenment to you. I wish you
success in your quest to become a profitable dairy farmer.

Thanks for taking your time to read this guide. Am still writing more and more
Agribusiness guides that will nourish you in your profitable farming endeavours. Always keep in
touch with me on whatsapp 0714723004 to get more of my Agribusiness guides and
Agribusiness advice.

Also whatsapp me and give me your feedback about this guide...