By HERBERT MUSOKE
Dr. Hamid Rutaro explains that to increase production in livestock, is not only about genetics but a combination of other factors in feeding quality and quantity, health, comfortability, records and timing.
“Although you have the best genetics, without enough quality feed and water your animals will not produce milk because it is their bodies that produce milk and without feeds, they will be eating their bodies to produce milk. Here you will end up losing the milk and the cow itself,” she said.
Also, keep the animals healthy since unhealthy animals will not be able to produce. It also causes abortions and failure to conceive which deprive you of the milk you would be getting and a heifer.
“If you are doing dairy as a business, you need to understand that, for every day a cow is on your farm but doesn’t produce milk, it costs you between US$2-5 (sh7, 200 and sh18, 000) in labour, water, feed and shelter. In a month, you will have lost between shs216, 000 and sh540, 000,” he says.
He explains that with better management, each of your cows should give you a calf every year. This is because a cow should be given two months of voluntary waiting period to help her regain its body shape, the uterus to get back to its proper position, clean up its body and get ready to conceive again.
“Please don’t serve your cow before at least 50 days after calving even if it came on heat because it hasn’t gained its shape to carry a calf and produce milk,” he said.
Marnix Weeda, an expert in dairy farming from the Netherlands, told farmers that animal management is crucial as they need to have quality feeds with balanced nutrients to not also keep them in shape to produce milk but also avoid effects like milk fever that result from inadequate nutrients.
“If you are thinking of having heavy milkers that can give you 30 litres and above, you should drink over 200 litres of water in intervals (10-15 times a day). This therefore, means you must avail water all the time for it to drink.
Also provide it with a comfortable shelter for it to relax as a cow needs 14-15 hours of relaxation each day for the body to make milk.