KENYA – Kenyan dairy farmers are looking at better prospects after Brookside Dairy Limited, East Africa’s dairy market leader, launched an animal breeding support programme for its milk supply groups, with the aim of raising firm yields.
The company revealed that it had partnered with semen suppliers to provide semen straws to its contracted milk supply groups to improve calving rates and accelerate the rate of genetic improvement in dairy stock.
“For some time now, Brookside Dairy has been training farmers on breeding in our popular dairy training courses,” Brookside’s general manager for milk procurement Emmanuel Kabaki said.
“The time has now come when we are giving over 2000 farmers in Kiambu an opportunity to practice skills learnt at the trainings we undertook-majorly on the use of semen straws to improve cow breeds.”
He noted that Brookside would be providing semen straws and 400 litres of liquid nitrogen to facilitate breed improvement by farmers in the area.
“We encourage farmers to take advantage of these genetic materials, which are of reputable genomics from our local bull stations to improve their dairy breeds,” he said.
“Our extension service team will be working in the monitoring and follow-up phases of this project, to ensure successful roll-out of this initiative which will benefit participating farmers across the entire country.”
The breeding model is designed in a way that aims to encourage a farmer-centred herd improvement programme, which enables the farmers to track the initiative’s performance.
Kabaki noted that seasonality in dairy production, brought about by the vagaries of weather, still posed a threat to the development of the sub-sector.
He urged farmers to grow and conserve adequate fodder, that would be handy during periods of depressed forage, to ensure that milk production remains optimum year-round.
“We will also be addressing the need for cow comfort in the farms, Research shows that when cows are comfortable, they can increase milk production by up to 30 per cent, under the same feeding regimen.”
Earlier this year, a USAID-funded project saw over 190,000 dairy farmers in several counties in the country double their dairy production from 2 litres to 8 litres per cow boosting their incomes.
Through the project farmers benefited from improved breeds and nutrition, which saw an increase in the country’s dairy herd, narrowing the gap in milk production.
According to Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS) Chief of Party (CoP) Dr. Robert Mwandime, the demand for milk in the country is high and through these interventions, farmers are able to produce about 60–70% of the milk consumed in the country.