One Kakamega County farmer, who upgraded a local breed with Friesian, has managed to improve the quality of milk by giving his dairy cow with a mix of multinutrient feeds from his farm in Bikura Village.
When Wycliffe Ochango crossbred an indigenous cow with a Friesian in 2012 via artificial insemination, he knew that even after increasing the amount of milk, quality was to remain low.
“The local breed was producing three litres of milk in day. Though little, it was of fairly thick. After the heifer calved down in 2014, milk rose to 14 litres. But consumers gradually avoided my milk claiming I ‘baptise’ it by adding water to earn more,” he said.
Although he knew commercial feeds have balanced nutrients, Ochango was certain that offering them alone could not resolve the matter because Friesian milk is naturally low in quality.
In the 90kg feeds he offers the cow in the morning after milking, only one kilogramme is commercial while the rest is mix of lucerne, calliandra, desmodium and napier grass.
One kilogramme of dry calliandra has proteins equivalent to one kilogramme of dairy meal. Three kilos of fresh calliandra are equivalent to one kilo of dairy meal in protein.
Lucerne and desmodium are also a rich in protein and other nutrients while the one-acre napier grass offers roughage, carbohydrates as well as moisture.
Calliandra grows along the edges of the farm.
Mineral supplements based on veterinary advice have boosted the quality.
Although the crossbreed has not reached the optimum production of Friesian, he has managed to improve the thickness of the milk, from which he is able to meet basic needs for his family.
His first calf from cross breed fetched him Sh28,000 after eight months, which he sold and paid school fees in 2015.
The second calf is three months old. It is an Ayrshire hybrid.
“I want to move to Ayrshire rearing because its milk is of good quality and the feeding is easier than a Friesian. I will not be selling the heifer,” he said.
He plans to increase the ayrshire population to four through the upgrade.