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    Smallholder farmers in Kenya can save up to Sh7000 per cow on treatment costs by keeping the Fleckvieh dual purpose cow which can be used for both beef and milk production.

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    The breed is less prone to mastitis and rarely contracts the disease compared to other cow breeds which often contract the disease.Due to Fleckvieh’s low somatic (dead) cells, she  is also tolerant to attack by ticks and tsetseflies due to its thick skin.

    Mastitis is a bacterial disease caused by poor hygiene. It occurs when somatic cells are released into the mammary glands in response to the invasion of the teat canals by bacteria. The disease causes a drop in milk production by at least 50 per cent and sometimes infected cows have to be culled.

    Fleckvieh was introduced in Kenya by Fleckvieh East Africa in 2009 and has been adopted by approximately 20,000 farmers however over 300,000 small scale dairy farmers in Kenya keep the common breeds which include Friesian, Jersey, Guernsey, Zebu, Sahiwal and Ayrshire among others.


    Fleckvieh dairy cattle 

    Fleckvieh produces less milk and is consistent in production; but it requires less feed to produce the same amount of milk as a Holstein-Fresian. Therefore, it is a more efficient cow” said Dr.Anthony Wanjohi of Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa

    The cow produces 25 to 30 liters on first calving, 30 to 35 liters on second calving and 35 to 40 liters at its peak.

    If a Holstein Friesian cow is fed 60kgs of feed for instance it would produce the same amount of milk equal to the Fleckvieh cow which will is also fed on 45kg of the similar feed. With one kilogram of dairy meal averaging Sh30, farmers can save Sh450 by keeping this type of cow.

    Dr Wanjohi advises farmers to crossbreed Fleckvieh with other dairy breed to improve the calf’s traits. Hybrid bulls from Fleckvieh and others for example mature faster and gain 300kg of weight within three quarters of a year and can be sold by farmers to earn extra income.

    High quality semen for artificial insemination can be obtained from Fleckvieh East Africa at Sh400 to Sh800 depending on the type of bull.

    A mature bull weighing 500kg can earn farmers between Sh80,000 to Sh100,000 while heifers at 10 to 14 months fetch the same amount of money.

    Fleckvieh Genetics East Africa can be reached on +254 712 095 555 or +254 727 665 885.



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    The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) has unveiled 140 new disease resistant and fast maturing seed varieties to cushion farmers against losses and boost food security in the arid and semi-arid areas. The new varieties of seeds released include maize, beans, sunflower, sorghum and potatoes, which are tolerant to the maize lethal necrosis disease. 

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    KEPHIS Managing Director Esther Kimani (Left) with Deputy President William Ruto during the launch of a Sh250m laboratory complex to test produce/PHOTO/KEPHIS

    According to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Kenya loses 10 per cent of the maize produced annually to lethal necrosis disease which has ravaged thousands of acres of maize in most parts of Kenya including, Nyanza, Western, Rift Valley and Central.

    “The varieties introduced are drought tolerant, early maturing and superior to the ones currently in the market” said Dr. Esther Kimani, KEPHIS Managing Director.

    With the introduction of the new seed varieties, the government through the ministry of agriculture will phase out old crop varieties that have been in the market for more than 10 years.

    “We will be working with our research institutions such and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to phase out varieties which are not adding value to farmers,” said agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe who was speaking at a press conference in Naivasha last week.

    “The process will be done systematically through capacity building and awareness creation so that farmers are informed on the varieties that will no longer be in the market”

    Maize varieties which have been in the market for so long with decreasing yields year in year out include but are not limited to H622, H511, H614, H611, H612D, Kat CB and H513.

    Smallholder farmers are also set to benefit from the launch of a new Sh250m laboratory complex by KEPHIS which seeks to ensure fertilizers, seeds; water and soil are tested before use. Testing is important as it enables farmers increase yields and reduce risks associated with inadequate knowledge on the best applicable farming practices.

    Speaking while opening the complex which was funded by KEPHIS in partnership with the European Union, Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto termed the project as a milestone which will boost food security.

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    Nandi farmers have devised a new way to control the deadly foot and mouth diseases (FMD) in their livestock by using ‘kangara’, a mixture of molasses and maize flour from which chang’aa, a traditional home-brewed spirit; popular in Kenya is distilled.

    The kangara is fed to cows, goats or sheep with the virus and within four days, the livestock is cured.


    A cow affected by foot and mouth disease

    Related article: How to contain the deadly foot and mouth break-out

    In the neighboring Uasin Gishu County, more than 400 herds of cattle died within a period of three weeks following an outbreak of the foot and mouth disease in October 2017. The outbreak has so far been reported in several North Rift and Western counties including Trans Zoia, Vihiga, Bungoma, Busia and Kakamega.

    According to the statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture, livestock diseases in Kenya lead to losses of more thanSh24 billion annually.  Due to this, in September 2017, Bungoma and Busia counties banned livestock trade over the disease followed by Vihiga in October which imposed quarantine in all the five sub-Counties of Emuhaya, Hamisi, Luanda, Sabatia and Vihiga. The quarantine and closure of livestock markets has affected several businesses in the region.

    Related article:Understanding the Foot and Mouth disease

    Peter Butuk, a dairy farmer in Kilibwoni division, Nandi County says six of his ten cows have so far been affected by the disease and he has incurred huge losses purchasing vaccines such as FMD which have not been effective and has a short immunity span.

    Related article:Livestock farmers to save Sh160 with cheap foot and mouth vaccine

    “I have resorted to using kangara, a trial and error preventive measure which has proved effective to my animals. I feed it to the affected cows twice a day, in the morning and in the evening and since then three of the affected cows are on their way to recovery with the rest showing signs of improvement,” said Butuk.

    The Kenya Veterinary Vaccines Production Institute (KEVEVAPI) has also introduced a new novel purified oil-based FMD vaccine which has a longer shelf life and confers a longer immunity of up to 12 months. Farmers can now protect their animals against FMD by vaccinating animals over two years old only once a year, with cattle below two years of age getting a booster six months after vaccination. A dose of this new oil-based vaccine costs Sh360. This means that farmers will make a cost saving as compared to when they used the water-based FMD vaccine, which costs Sh645.

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