NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya is currently experiencing an unusually dry weather
that has brought numerous challenges for cattle-keepers
in both dry areas and the highlands.
African nation, for the third-year running, is going
through drought-like conditions characterized by very
dry winds and long sunny periods, an indication that the
rains expected in March may not be adequate again this
year, according to the Meteorological Department.
learnt the hard way in the last few years, where milk
production became expensive and declined due to lack of
fodder, many dairy farmers have mastered the art of
And this is
paying off currently as the farmers are feeding their
animals silage made from fodder planted during the rainy
season and stored.
which is made from pasture that include Boma Rhodes
grass, maize and molasses, can last for up to two years,
giving farmers a peace of mind, especially during the
Njoroge, a farmer in Ruai on the outskirts of Nairobi,
is one of those who are currently feeding their animals
silage that he prepared some months ago.
“I have two
bunkers where I store my silage that can feed my seven
Friesian animals for up to two years. One bunker
currently has silage I prepared in May last year, which
I am feeding the animals and would last until next
month. The other silage I prepared in October will last
me until about May, when the short rains would have
come,” he said.
silage, Njoroge is not feeling the current drought that
has seen dozens of animals especially in the arid
regions die due to lack of pasture while others sold off
at low prices.
“I feed the
animals the silage and hay, with the former making the
bulk of the feed. My milk production has remained at
between 25 and 30 liters a day from each of the four
lactating cows during this dry season,” said the farmer,
who sells the milk to neighbors at 0.6 dollar per liter.
A bale of
hay is currently going for 3.2 dollars, thanks to the
dry season but combined with the silage, his costs go
“If I were
to feed the cows only hay, I would not manage because
each animal feeds on the 15 kg bale per day,” said the
farmer, who further uses dairy meal and Napier grass, as
together with other 25 members of their farmers’ group,
learnt silage making from an agricultural non-state
organization years ago.
silage, the freshly harvested fodder is dried under the
sun for three days to preserve quality. Thereafter, the
feed is then chopped into tiny pieces preferably using a
will then be spread on a polythene material placed in a
bunker as it is compacted to remove air and molasses is
mixture is covered with the polythene material and would
be ready for use after about a month. It can stay in the
pit for up to a year.
Muriuki, a livestock extension officer in Kiambu, a
county near Nairobi, noted that with the rains becoming
erratic and the country facing drought year-in and
year-out, silage is the only tool that farmers can use
to run profitable venture.
must know how to go about it. The thing is that you grow
fodder like maize during the rainy season, for instance
from between March and May, harvest and preserve as
silage for use during the dry weather. This is a
practice that one must perfect if he is to reap as
farmers should guard against improper storage of silage
which can lead to aflatoxin in milk,” he said.
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