Farmers boost milk yields with do it yourself model

A Canadian veterinarian’s 17 trips to Kenya to teach dairy farmers on good livestock management have not been in vain for it has tripled the milk yields of over six thousand small holder farmers who owns one to five acres and between one and three cows.

Dr John VanLeeuwen a professor of Epidemiology and Ruminant Health Management at the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) together with his students has picked smallholder farmers in Kenya in training them how to make the most out of their cows.

From reducing the number of udder infections to improving parasite control which all boost milk production, the model has worked by passing the knowledge to a group of farmers who in turn teach fellow farmers.

In one case a farmer near Meru was letting the cattle roam free to graze. However, in the dry season this meant there was little nutrition in the dried out weeds.

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VanLeeuwen then advised Isaac Kaiyongi on the building of a shed to shield his cows from both the hot sun and the rain. He also suggested planting grasses such as Napier grass and sweet potato vines for the cattle to graze on which further helped stabilize the soil which had been subject to erosion in the area due to its former use in coffee growing.

The farmer says whereas he used to get a total of 17 litres of milk in total from these three cows, he now gets 17 litres from each cow. The added income has enabled him to send his three children to school, one of them to college.

In addition to his work as a professor at the AVC, VanLeeuwen is president of a group called Farmers Helping Farmers in November 2014 was elected as Chair of the board of Veterinarians without Borders -Canada (VWB).

Dr. VanLeeuwen. says “Today, Veterinarians without Borders-Canada has become recognized and respected in Canada and internationally, and is delivering on its promise to promote sustainable and integrated animal, human and ecosystem health in parts of the world where it is needed most”.

Qouted by CBC news he said, “Banks only go where there’s money, so you know that now there’s a fair amount of money in this community.  And it’s a sustainable community.”

In 2015 trips, VanLeeuwen’s veterinary team have checked more than 150 animals from more than 120 farms over 14 working days.