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    By George Munene

    Greenland Sahiwal are Narok-based private Sahiwal breeders with a herd of close to 100 cattle. Farm director John Nayok points out that they opted to rear Sahiwal cattle due to their adaptability and tolerance to drier weather extremes; the breed can survive in harsh Garissa, Turkana, and Marsabit climates. Despite this, Sahiwal are good milkers and attains double the weight achieved by indigenous breeds

    ” Our Sahiwal cows average between 10-12 liters daily with little supplementation. They also gather weight quicker than any local breed; this makes the Sahiwal a true exotic dual-purpose breed. They're economical to maintain for farmers in marginal areas in that they attain average weights of up to 450 kg while subsisting on similar pastures fed to Zebu for example, which only weigh about half as much while producing just 3.7 liters daily,” Nayok explains.

    Originally from Pakistan, Sahiwal is a dual-purpose cattle that have been indigenised to suit local Kenyan conditions by KALRO’s Dairy Research Institute at Naivasha since the 1960s.

    Physically the breed is distinguished by its characteristic hump and pale red/ dark brownish coat.

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    Through decades of breeding the Kenyan Sahiwal is both drought and disease-resistant.  

    “It grows faster than the indigenous Zebu, meaning a farmer can be able to sell the cow within a shorter period,” explains KALRO’s Dairy Research Institute director Dr. Titus Lenyasunya.  

    At the same time, the breed is tolerant of tick-borne disease, a common disease afflicting cows in tropical countries such as Kenya. 

    The institute has also crossed Sahiwal bulls and Friesian cattle to develop a crossbreed.  

    This progeny yields between 30 and 20 liters daily--half the amount of milk gotten from their pedigree mothers, but double the amount of milk produced by purebred Sahiwal.  

    They are adapted to transitional areas such as Laikipia, Kajiado, and parts of Nyandarua and Ukambani that are not very dry, nor very wet.   

    Sahiwal cows average between 2000 to 2500 kilograms of milk in one lactation cycle that lasts about 293 days. Their milk has a high butter-fat content of five to six per cent. 

    If fed semi-intensively on a high plane diet the breed can produce up to 25 liters per day. This includes natural pastures such as boma Rhodes, Kikuyu grass, star grass as well as protein legume supplements. Concentrates like dairy meal, maize germ, poultry waste, and dairy mineral licks should also be offered 

    They are a large cow breed averaging a live weight of 425 kg for cows and 500 kg for bulls. 

    Sahiwall bull

    According to KALRO Naivasha representatives, Sahiwal cattle are at the moment not available for sale to farmers. Sahiwal bulls will however be availed to farmers between July and August.

    Related News: Farmers suffer milk collapse on changing cows’ environment

    Through the Kenya Animal Genetic Resources Centre (KAGRC) in Kabete, formerly Artificial Insemination Centre, farmers can acquire Sahiwal semen. These are available for Sh250 a dose countrywide through the nearest KAGRC representative agents.

    Greenland have reared Sahiwal cows for two years and are registered with the Kenya Stud Book. From them, farmers can buy purebred Sahiwal heifers for Sh70,000 and bulls range from between Sh60,000 to Sh200,000.

    KALRO Naivasha:0722758197 

    KAGRC: 0728899767/ 0737540670, 

    Greenland Sahiwal: 0752561231 

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    forage pearl millet

    By George Munene

    Nutrifeed forage pearl millet is a drought-tolerant, rich in protein fodder supplement that is new to the Kenyan market and has shown to improve milk quality and production by up to 30 per cent.

    Developed by Advanta, a specialized dairy cattle feed research company, the forage pearl millet contains between 16-20 per cent protein content— in line with other sources of high protein content forage. “In a feeding test we conducted at Joy Farm, Lanet, we observed an increase in milk output for most cows, one moving from an output of 12 liters to between 16-18 liters daily in just two weeks,” explains Mark Kandie, Advanta’s sales representative for the Central and Rift regions.

    While it grows across all regions, forage pearl millet is particularly engineered to offer farmers in arid and semi-arid regions a high protein supplement previously unavailable to them. 

    “The crop does well under adverse conditions. In a demo we conducted at Elda Maravin we were able to obtain two crop cuttings between October and March with a little watering at planting and it having rained just once. The same is true in Kitui, where with just one rain a farmer obtained five cuts.  

    For small- and large-scale farmers who have tried lucerne or Brachiaria and they have not worked for them I would advise that they consider forage pearl millet as it is a low-cost alternative that gives their animals a similar protein content,” Kandie counsels.

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    In terms of milk quality, the butterfat content in milk also increases when cows are fed on forage pearl millet. For a trial experiment, a cheese maker in Central was able to reduce the amount of milk used to produce one kilogram of his cheese from 18 liters to 12 liters by using it as a fodder supplement. 

    Forage pearl millet is meant to be fed as a supplement in portions of 15-30 kilograms depending on the cow's stage of lactation. It is not meant to be a full meal. It is a high-energy source containing 10 millijoules of energy per kilogram. An acre of the crop can produce up to 40MT of highly palatable animal fodder.

    It takes longer to develop in areas that are wet and cold than it does in drier areas. It is also established by direct seeding with minimal agronomic maintenance required. This makes it a low-cost alternative in both time and money. 

    Brachiaria grass often requires to first be established in a nursery before acquiring the splits for planting; a tedious process for most farmers. Lucerne, another high protein source, needs a lot of watering, making it out of the reach of most arid farmers, as well as demanding close management. Forage pearl millet gives livestock similar protein content at a fraction of these costs.

    It can be fed as chopped green fodder ensuring it is wilted for at least an hour, is excellent in silage production and can also be baled into hay. The crop can also be fed as pasture, as is the case currently for range farmers in Narok, Kandie points out.  

    Forage pearl millet can be grown in most soil types given they are well-drained and not acidic or saline. The optimum growing pH ranges from between 5.5-7. Farmers in tea-growing regions should lime and manure their soils to reduce acidity levels.

    The fodder matures in just two months and under the right agronomic management up to four cuttings are possible in a year while a single crop can last on the farm for two years. At this point, fresh seeding is required as it cannot be replanted through splits

    The crop is established similar to other cereals such as finger millet or oats. Rows are spaced 30cm apart while plants are spaced 10cm apart. Three kilograms of seed caters to an acre with a kilogram of seed costing between Sh2000 and1600. The planting area should be well harrowed as its seeds are very small. Manure and any recommended fertiliser should be incorporated at planting with top dressing done in the third week. CAN/Urea or any other appropriate top-dressingfertiliser should be applied after every cutting to ensure the crop regenerates and ratoons adequately. 

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    It is critical to especially control for broadleaf weeds at every stage of the fodder’s growth. Glyphosate should be used to eradicate weeds before sowing, while BASF’s Stomp herbicide is recommended before germination. At the post-emergence interval (after germination) Buctril/Ariane herbicides are used.

    Pesticides that farmers should worry about are shore flies, stem borers, and fall armyworms. To control these, you should scout your fields checking for the intensity of infection and spray if needed. Alternatively, pesticide application every 14 days heads off any chance of infection. 

    At harvesting, it is advised that stems are cut 6-8 inches above the ground to aid in ratooning and tillering.

    Pearl millet is best fed to animals at its flowering or tasseling stage, day 45 to 60 when the protein content is at its highest.

    Forage pearl millet has the added advantage of containing no toxic levels of prussic acid poisoning. Prussic acid poisoning is more common in forage sorghums planted under arid conditions and fed as green chop.It results in death when livestock are fed on plants that are either very young or stunted by drought.

    Mark Kandie, Advanta sales representative for Central and Rift regions: 0725595476

    Where to purchase forage pearl millet across different regions: 

    Mombasa/Nairobi-Felix Jomo on 0703 879082

    Eastern & Central-Alex Njagi on 0725513418

    Kinangop-Dan on 0724559471

    Eldoret-MerryChem Agrovet

    Kitale-CheraVet or KFA

    Kericho-Tulwet Farmers Agrovet

    Kakamega/Kitale/Kisii-Nelson Sumba on +254 722 946776

    Kiambu-Alex on +254 725 513418

    Nakuru-Agri-world, Menengai or Meya Agri-Traders

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    cB3ejd1p 400x400

    By George Munene

    Akimaa Africa is a food processing company that assists rural millet farmers earn sustainable incomes through millet value addition. The company based in Busia County sources millet from farmers to produce affordable, nutritious, and gluten-free millet bar snacks and cakes. 

    Founded in 2017 by food science and technology degree graduate Irene Etyang, the business as well sources honey from rural Western Kenya beekeepers. It has further still ventured into using sprouted millet, peanuts, and tamarind in the making of instant porridge.

    The company supports over 100 farmers with high-yielding improved finger millet variety seeds.

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    Its food options are targeted at health-conscious consumers, selling to them directly through theirFacebook page. Millet is a great alternative to maize and wheat flour-based products as it aids in controlling blood sugar. The soluble fiber in millet can help reduce the amount of “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Cholesterol is such a large risk factor for heart disease, meaning eating millet regularly helps keep your heart healthier.

    Millet cultivation is gaining renewed popularity amongst farmers because of its versatility and it being easy to grow. Millet can be used in the making of bread, beer, cereals, and other dishes.

    Millets are drought tolerant and able to be grown in arid areas. While around 4,000 liters of water produces one kilogram of rice, a fraction of that can be used to grow millet.

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