NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Some years ago, Kenyan small-scale dairy farmers
would harvest fresh grass that include napier grass from the
farm, cut it into tiny pieces, mix with molasses and offer them
This was the daily practice on most farms
in Kenya as the grass was grown all around the year because the
rains were consistent - coming from March to May and October to
December. In between, the East African nation would still get
But that period is now in the distant past, as most farmers
in the nation are currently rushing to invest in feed stores
that include bunkers to bulk feeds amid reduced rains.
The scarce rains, which are among the biting effects of
climate change that have hit Kenya, have made the dairy farmers
line up several stores on their farms to stockpile feeds, mainly
hay and silage.
At Osiligi Farm in Kajiado, south of Kenya’s capital Nairobi,
a huge store is part of the structures that stand out.
Inside the store, bales upon bales of hay sit on each other
waiting to be consumed by about 70 cows on the farm.
Away from the hay store, near the cattle shed, sit two large
underground bunkers covered with polythene sheets.
The bunkers hold silage made from maize that they grow, with
the farm using feeds from one currently as the other waits.
"We have feeds that can last us for over one year," Paul
Sosoika, a manager at Osiligi Farm, said in a recent interview.
"We are not worried even if it does not rain because our animals
would certainly not starve," he added.
The farm, as many others across the East African nation,
adopted the bulk-feed storage system some three years ago for
sustainable farming as rains became erratic.
"Last year during the rainy season from March to May, we
planted several fodder including Boma Rhodes, lucerne,
brachiaria and maize for silage.
"That period the rains came on time and they were in plenty,"
said Sosoika, adding that unlike this year when the rains are
"The bulking of feeds have ensured that our milk production
remains constant at over 300 liters a day even as the dry spell
persisted in the last months.
"We have grown some more grasses but the current rains look
insufficient," he said.
For Marceline Korir, a dairy farmer in Eldoret, western
Kenya, with a herd of eight cows, she does not only bulk feeds
but also grows drought-resistant fodder mainly sorghum.
"Sorghum requires little rains to thrive.
"I switched to it two years ago after training and this has
ensured I have feeds throughout the season including currently
when some farmers are grappling with lack of fodder due to low
rains," she said.
Felix Akatch, a livestock expert from Egerton University,
notes that dairy farmers have no choice but to adopt practices
that rhyme with the current weather pattern.
"The trick currently is to work with the little rains by
growing in plenty fodder that mature faster," he said, adding
storing is important as silage or hay can stay for up to two
He noted that the practice does not only cushion farmers from
the dry spell but saves costs since feeds like concentrates and
hay become expensive when rains fail.