By Joshua Kato
It was a bee hive of activities, at Sight Farm, Namulonge on April 28, 2023 even when the main occasion was about cattle keeping. This was after over 350 enthusiastic farmers gathered at this dairy farm to learn ways of improving production and productivity of their herds. The training was facilitated by URUS. There was also a mini exhibition about dairy keeping technologies. Sight Farm is owned by Henry Lugolobi.
According to Dr. Hamid Rutaro, Technical Manager for URUS, Africa explained to the farmers 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.
They were advised to 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 sh216, 000 and sh540, 000,” he says.
In addition to feeds, water is a must too. “If you are thinking of having heavy milkers that can give you 30 litres and above, they 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.
Serve animals on time
Dr William Kabanda advised farmers to keenly observe the heat signs so that they serve the animals on time. 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.
Kabanda 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. 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.
At the event, Dr Jolly Kabirizi exhibited technologies that can reduce feeding costs for urban dairy farmers.