News and knowhow for farmers

Baringo dairyman earns Sh46,000 more monthly switching to Boma Rhodes grass

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Jack­son Keit­any, a dairy farmer from Kip­lombe in Baringo County is now mak­ing Sh19,000 profit a month from milk sales, com­pared to Sh27,000 loss per month three years ago, due to plant­ing his own Boma Rhodes grass fod­der.

Kip­lombe, where Keit­any has over 40 acres of land under dairy pro­duc­tion, is a semi-arid area where drought has grown worse due to cli­mate change. However, he has been able to in­crease his milk pro­duc­tion by chan­ging the way he feeds his dairy cattle, fol­low­ing train­ing by an NGO and the Min­istry of Live­stock De­vel­op­ment.

In May 2017, Keit­any sold 1081 litres of milk, earn­ing Sh58,416 from an av­er­age selling price of Sh54 a litre. But in the same month, due to low rains, Keit­any ran out of hay, which was his main source of roughage for his cows and was forced to buy hay from the mar­ket.

Keit­any first bought 59 bales cost­ing him Sh10 per litre of milk pro­duced. When this ran out, he bought an ad­di­tional 30 bales cost­ing him an­other Sh12.56 a litre. He fi­nally pur­chased the third batch of 40 bales cost­ing Sh14.77 per litre.

 In the same month he used 465 kilos of con­cen­trate, cost­ing him Sh19.06 per litre of milk pro­duced. Adding la­bour costs at Sh10 per litre, health care cost at Sh2, and other costs, Keit­any had a total ex­pendit­ure of Sh86,400, mean­ing he spent Sh80.37 pro­du­cing one litre of milk that he sold for Sh54. This means he made a loss of Sh27,984 or Sh26 for every liter he pro­duced.

However, things star­ted turn­ing around for the 73-year-old former gov­ern­ment em­ployee when he met of­ficers from the Kenya Mar­ket-led Dairy Pro­gramme (KMDP) and the Min­istry of Ag­ri­cul­ture who star­ted train­ing farm­ers in the area in good dairy pro­duc­tion prac­tices.

KMDP con­sult­ants and Kip­lombe’s ex­ten­sion of­ficer vis­ited Keit­any’s farm and no­ticed his pro­gress and will­ing­ness to learn and he was se­lec­ted as one of 20 ‘demon­stra­tion farm­ers’ from the Kip­lombe Dairy So­ci­ety.

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Today, he has made much pro­gress, abd never buys fod­der, but grows his own. At the onset of the rainy sea­son, he buys 14 bags of CAN fer­til­izer that he ap­plies on his one acre of Bhoma rhodes that he es­tab­lished last year.

The grass turns around in less than 20 days from the day of fer­til­izer ap­plic­a­tion mean­ing he doesn’t need to buy roughage. He uses 231 bales, 102 bales more than the hay he used to con­sume. 

The hay pro­duced from his own farm costs him Sh8.46 per litre of milk pro­duced. He has since re­duced the quant­ity of con­cen­trate that he feeds to the cattle by 15 kilos as well, re­du­cing his cost per litre from Sh19 to Sh10.

RE­LATED CON­TENT: Hay mak­ing method for small­holder farm­ers

The milk price al­ways drops dur­ing the rainy sea­sons. However, the total pro­duc­tion from Keit­any’s farm has in­creased to 1583 litres, res­ult­ing in total rev­en­ues of Sh73,831 and a profit of Sh12.06 for every litre sold. Last month, Keit­any made a profit of Sh19,117.

He now says feed­ing sig­ni­fies a huge cost to a dairy farm. “Re­du­cing costs as­so­ci­ated with feeds plays a big role in de­term­in­ing whether a farm makes a profit or loss.”

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In ad­di­tion, he has noted an in­crease in milk pro­duc­tion when he star­ted feed­ing his six milk­ing cows lu­cerne along­side maize sil­age and Rhodes hay, with them now pro­du­cing a total of over 1600 litres, which is an in­crease of 45 per cent com­pared to pre­vi­ous years.

Keit­any’s age pre­vents him from doing heavy labor, but he still thinks about the fu­ture of his dairy farm. He would like to in­crease the pro­duc­tion of the cur­rent ten milk­ing cows from an av­er­age of 60 litres of milk per day up to 200 litres of milk per day year-round.

RE­LATED CON­TENT: Ac­count­ant earns double from dairy and hay pro­duc­tion after quit­ting job

In terms of feed­ing, Keit­any feels he has im­proved over the last two to three years, but also knows he can im­prove even more. He wants to re­place the sorghum with Boma Rhodes grass and in­tends to check the nu­tri­tional value of lu­cerne and the other feed crops. He wants to im­prove the cow shed and the zero­graz­ing unit and plans to ir­rig­ate his farm with water from the dam, so he will no longer de­pend on rains.

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