Urban farmers practising dairy zero-grazing should select breeds that will give them good milk yields on one hand, and resist diseases on the other.
“If you are keeping dairy cattle in an urban setting, you need a breed that will give you at least 20 litres because this is the only way it can pay for the costs of production,” Dr Jolly Kabirizi says.
Kabirizi keeps seven dairy cows at her home in Seguku. She advises farmers to select good crosses because they do not only give good milk yields but also resist diseases.
She says some people just pick any cow that is brought to them without considering the milking history of the mother and at the end of the day, the yield is 5-10 litres. A good crossed heifer costs about sh4m at the moment, while a pure friesian costs at least sh6-7m.
Managing a dairy cow is more expensive in urban areas because a farmer has to buy all the feeds since they do not have land nearby to grow pastures. Even if a farmer has land outside the urban area where they grow pastures, they incur daily costs to transport them to the farm.
“To effectively cater for the cost of feeding and other expenses, the cow should give you at least 15 litres per day,” she says. If well-fed, the cross can give as many as 25 litres.
Kabirizi says good feeding entails using both fresh and dry feeds. Some dairy cow feeds on about 45kg of dry matter per day. This includes dry grasses for example hay and silage.