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    Farmers can store excess livestock feeds for more than one year by adding sugarcane molasses to the silage for preservation.

    Molasses, which is a by-product of sugarcane, takes about 18 months to crystalise or turn mouldy. After that period, the sugary substance may not release enough organic acid required to prevent the feeds from rotting.

    Nyeri County farmer and molasses supplier Boniface Mwangi said molasses initiate fermentation process, which generates organic acids as a result of microbial anaerobic respiration.

    “The presence of oxygen causes decomposition of organic matter. Organic acids produced after fermentation prevents decomposition of the silage. After silage making, the fodder remains fresh and compact with the nutrients intact,” Mwangi said.

    Molasses liquid is sprinkled over compacted silage after about 20cm in depth. Apart from the sugar keeping the fodder together, it adds flavor that boosts livestock appetite.

    Related News: Molasses and maize bran milk booster doubles milk yield

    Maize, Napier grass, rice straws and other silage materials are stored in pits dug into the soil. Large polythene bags are packed with the chopped feed to appear like a cylinder. Large heaps can also be stored whereby pits are dug and a polythene lining is laid at the bottom and at the top.

    No matter the choice of storage, the pits have to be done under sheds to prevent direct sunlight.

    At least 40 litres of the molasses can be added to 1.5 tonnes of silage. At the same time, 20 litres of the molasses have to be diluted by 40 litres of water to reduce the sugar concentration, Mwangi said.

    For best results, the fodder must not have more than 70 per cent moisture. In case, for instance the Napier grass has been harvested after rains or from water lodged areas, they have to be wilted a bit. To confirm the moisture is below the required level, a farmer can twist a handful of the material by free hand. If droplets are released, then the moisture content is above the recommended percentage.

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    Mwangi cautions farmer that after opening the silage, it should be sealed immediately to prevent entry of oxygen. Any entry of oxygen initiates rotting.

    Because of the sugary flavour, livestock feed more of the fodder and take in more water, translating to improved milk output.

    Molasses milk booster feed offers dairy farmers cheap alternative: 

    Silage is used alongside other feed to boost milk production. At the same time, excess feeds can be stored for later use, for instance when it is dry.

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    Gradual in­cre­ment of dairy meal served to the cows soon after par­tur­i­tion keep milk yields steady past the two first peak months.

     An in­crease of between a half a kilo and one kilo of the dairy meal im­proves the food re­serves in the cow, al­though its ap­pet­ite re­mains low in the first two month of de­liv­ery.

    “Milk let down after par­tur­i­tion is im­press­ive be­cause of the high con­cen­tra­tion of hor­mones as well as ac­cu­mu­la­tion.  The drop is im­min­ent in a month or so des­pite the rise in the ap­pet­ite of the cow. That is why an in­crease in the meal would keep the milk pro­duc­tion steady up to two months to the next calv­ing down,” Kaka­mega Pris­ons of­ficer in charge of farm­ing, Fre­drick Misoi said.

    Related News: Maize shortage & new taxes predicted to drive up feed cost

    The feed in­cre­ment is re­l­at­ive to the size and breed of the cow. For in­stance, if the cow is to be given 10kg of dairy meal per day, it can be in­creased gradu­ally with half or a kilo. Ay­shires can be given a half while a Friesian will re­ceive one kilo in­cre­ment.

    In­creas­ing the ra­tion as the ap­pet­ite in­creases en­sures that the cow re­cov­ers and sta­bil­ises in terms of body muscle re­build­ing, milk hor­mones up­lifts as well as min­eral de­pos­its after the ‘losses’ dur­ing gest­a­tion.

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    At least 60 litres of water per day must be avail­able daily. Be­sides in­clu­sion of pro­tein boost­ing feeds such as Lu­cerne and cal­li­andra, con­cen­trates can be made loc­ally from maize or rice jam missed with sun­flower as the source of pro­teins. Rice jam and sun­flower have to be missed in the ra­tion of four kilos to one kilo re­spect­ively.

    In­crease in grain in­take is done at a one per cent to two per cent de­pend­ing on the body weight.

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    Farm­ers, who make up to 100 per cent losses due to at­tack of crops by nem­at­odes and wilts, can con­trol the mi­crobes by dredging soils using tricho­derma fungus.

    Nem­at­odes, bac­teria wilt, fusarium wilt among other dis­ease caus­ing patho­gens have been clas­si­fied by other farm­ers as ‘HIV’ to mean that once they at­tack crops, re­cov­ery is rare and  most chem­ical con­trols are not ef­fect­ive in erad­ic­at­ing the mi­crobes.

    They at­tack and block roots of to­ma­toes, pep­per, cap­sicum, black night shade, cu­cum­ber, Irish pota­toes, among other crops in the so­lanaceae fam­ily. 

    Related News: Kwale farm using spirulina supercrop to combat endemic malnutrition

    The block­age in­ter­rupts trans­lo­ca­tion of food as well as min­er­als and water. The leaves turn yel­low, show­ing de­fi­ciency of min­er­als. The crops start wilt­ing be­fore dying in a few days. 

    Real IPM Ag­ro­nom­ist and en­vir­on­mental ex­pert Isaac Guda said tricho­derma fungus is an ef­fect­ive con­trol of these deadly patho­gens.

    “Tricho­derma is an ag­gress­ive fungus, which once in­tro­duced into the soil quickly spreads to the roots area to give them im­munity. It mul­ti­plies quickly to form colon­ies, which shield the roots against entry of other patho­gens,” Guda said.

    If for in­stance, nem­at­odes have at­tacked the roots of to­ma­toes, trichodrema’s ‘roots’, called hyphae, pen­et­rate into the body of the patho­gen and draw out nu­tri­ents.  This leads to death, the ag­ro­nom­ist said.

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    In ap­plic­a­tion, 2ml of the solu­tion with the fungi is added to one liter of water for dredging the root re­gion.

    On first month, dredging has to be done weekly while on the second month ap­plic­a­tion is done after two weeks. By the third month, the rate re­duces to once be­cause the ‘sol­diers’ have mul­ti­plied and se­cured the re­gion.

    But if the patho­gens have already col­on­ised the re­gion, the tricho­derma elim­in­ates them and ini­ti­ates crop heal­ing by trig­ger­ing growth of new roots, Guda said, adding that that is why it is also called a biofer­til­iser.

    Real IPM can be con­tac­ted on +254725806086

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