By George Munene
The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has developed an improved probiotic, KALRO Probiotics (KALPRO), that increases livestock production by up to 30 per cent, improves animal health, and reduces antibiotics reliance as well as mitigates emission of methane gas in dairy cattle.
“In preliminary KALRO trials in Naivasha we have observed a 20-33 per cent milk increase in cattle where KALPRO was introduced to their diets depending on the cow’s breed. Commercial beef producers in Oljororok and pig farmers in Kikuyu observed a similar percentage increase in weight with swine attaining weight in 75 per cent of the required time,” illuminated KALRO scientist Willis Adero–the project’s principal investigator.
Probiotics are made of beneficial live bacteria or yeasts that naturally live in bodies. They have increasingly been used in commercial animal production to advantageously alter gastrointestinal flora, improving animal health and productivity. The major outcomes of using probiotics include improvement in growth, reduction in mortality, and improvement in feed conversion efficiency.
KALPRO improves animal production by enhancing the breakdown of vitamins, minerals, and ammino acids and their absorption through intestinal walls.
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It also reduces overreliance on antibiotics– one of the biggest challenges for both our food systems and public health. Two-thirds of the global increase in antimicrobial use is from the agricultural sector. Its consequences include dissemination of resistance genes and bacterial clones, increased mortality and morbidity, and higher cost in the treatment of disease as well as infections that would have otherwise not occurred.
“Probiotics boost the immune system enabling animals better counteract diseases and pests,” Willis said
The liquid probiotic is administered orally through drenching, drinking water, or feed. “We advise farmers to add KALPRO to water as it is the most efficient and effective method of administration,” he explained.
30 milliliters of the supplement should be given weekly per animal. “Ideally, dairy cows and bulls ought to consume 15ml twice a week; heifers, hogs, and swine should be given 10ml and piglets 5ml. However, given that probiotics are naturally occurring, overfeeding has no negative consequences. It can also be fed at any stage of the animal’s life. Farmers should however be consistent in their use of KALPRO to realise its promised benefits,” explained KALRO research assistant Ian Alusa.
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The product also reduces methane gas emissions by about 25-30 per cent per individual cattle by breaking down the harmful gas into water and carbon dioxide (CO2). A powerful greenhouse gas from livestock manure and gastroenteric releases, methane accounts for roughly 32 per cent of human-caused methane emissions. With population growth, economic development, and urban migration stimulating unprecedented demand for animal protein and with the global population approaching 10 billion, livestock protein is expected to increase by up to 70 per cent by 2050.
“Although we have not yet published a full report on the impact of KALPRO on livestock, the preliminary findings have been positive, a sentiment shared by the farmers we are working with across Kenya,” said Adero.
KALPRO is available through KALRO Kabete and costs Sh600 a liter, though the price is negotiable for bulk purchasers.
Willis Adero Abwao, KALRO: 0721703342