A dairy farm worker tendering to cows during the 2016 Nakuru National Agricultural Society of Kenya Show. KALRO has released a drought tolerant maize for fodder making. PHOTO BY LABAN ROBERT.
Low rainfall regions dairy farmers can fed their livestock through the year by growing drought tolerant fodder maize for silage.
The Yellow Composite Maize from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) tolerates high temperature typical to dry areas in addition to withstanding dry spells to give up to eight tonnes of feed mass per acre in four months.
Nyandarua KALRO field officer Benson Muturi said the variety has produced masses of above eight tonnes per acre in a several trials in semi arid areas like Makueni County.
On average, Makueni County receives rainfall of about 591mm per year and the temperature is about 24 degreec Celsius, according to Climate-Data.org.
Other lower eastern Kenya counties like Kitui and Machakos have similar weather patterns, with variation depending on the location.
“Although rain does not fall is not fall continuously, harvesting the maize in four months can help farmers in feeding livestock for the entire year. This is possible through conversion to silage for storage after harvest,” Muturi said.
Because of the unreliable rain in the country, timing the maize against the countrywide April long rains can ensure food sufficiency as well as avert loss of livestock to drought.
With minimum rain of about 500mm after germination, mulching, and topdressing can yield stems of up to two metres.
It leaves are more than human consumption maize by the time of harvesting for fodder or silage making, just before flowering, Muturi said.
Silage is prepared by slicing green maize stalks into pieces of about five centimetres. The chopped maize stalks or any other feed like Napier grass is laced with molasses before packaging into air tight bags for storage.
In the absence of air-majorly oxygen-which causes rotting as microbes work on organic matter, the green material is preserved for a year of so for use.
Given that this is special for fodder, it is rich is proteins as well as other vitamins for high milk yields.
Muturi can be reached on +254724492456