FarmBiz Africa

Maize feed mixed with lupin seeds increases milk yields and cuts production costs

Dairy farmers can increase milk yields by 25 per cent and reduce animal feed costs by half by intercropping lupin seeds with maize for use as livestock feed.

Lupin seeds are rich in protein, a key component that provides energy in the body. Farmers who use lupin seeds with surplus maize in their farms can save on the cost of buying animal feeds in addition to getting more milk.

In the 2016/17 season for instance, the cost of animal feeds rose by an average of Sh50 to Sh70 per 50kg bag. 

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the cost of producing one litre of milk range from Sh20 to Sh25 compared to Sh10 in neighboring countries; Tanzania and Uganda.

This has been attributed to the nature of our dairy sector which is more labour intensive as compared to neighboring countries which have cheaper and adequate animal feeds ingredients including maize, wheat, sunflower cake and cotton seed cake. In Uganda for example, maize is majorly used for animal feeds as their main source of food is bananas.

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maize lupin

Maize intercropped with lupin seeds. Courtesy

To plant lupin seeds, prepare the land until the soil attains a fine smooth texture. Plant lupin seeds at a spacing of one and half feet between rows and one foot between plants.

Add one to two handfuls of farmyard manure per hole or one to two tablespoonful’s of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP)/tri-ammonium phosphate per hole translating to one 50kg bag per acre.

Plant two lupin seeds per hole. If inter-cropped with maize, plant within maize rows at a spacing of one foot per from one hole to another.

Weeding is done twice; the first is six weeks after planting and the second six weeks after the first one.

Lupin seeds mature after four to six months and are harvested when the pods start changing color from green to yellow with lower leaves falling off.

After harvesting, the seeds are dried and threshed like beans. Half an acre of land can produce four to six bags of lupin seeds enough to feed one dairy cow for one year.

If intercropped with maize half an acre yields two to three lupin seeds with which when mixed with six to nine bags of maize can feed one dairy cow for three to four months.

When mixing, the ratio used is 1:3. For every one tin of lupin seeds add three tins of maize. Two kilos of the feed is given to cows at milking time.

Cows fed lupin-maize mixture for the first time need to be introduced to it gradually. You can add a little mineral salt, molasses or other feed to the mixture to help the cow start eating it.

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