Feedback: Hydroponics should not replace pasture

Monday August 8 2016

Hydroponics grass.

Hydroponics grass. FILE PHOTO | DENNISH OCHIENG | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

HYDROPONICS HAY
I would wish to get clear and simple information on how to make hydroponics hay.

I have an interest in sheep rearing and would wish to feed them on the above.

Available seeds are sorghum and wheat. Kindly assist.

Sang

Apart from being a rather expensive means of fodder production, hydroponics fodder contains very high moisture content (more than 90 per cent) meaning that dry matter content is less than 10 per cent. Making hay out of such fodder will require thorough wilting.

In addition, sheep are ruminant animals that require considerable amounts of crude fibre for effective rumen function. This type of fodder production is usually an option suited for critically land limited farmers and even then hydroponic fodder should not fully replace conventional pasture and concentrate feed rations.

Kimitei K. Ronald, Department of Animal Sciences - Egerton University

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RABBIT FINANCING
I need to keep rabbits for commercial purposes.

Are there any institutions that do financing?

Freddie

Rabbit industry is enjoying a boost due to growing demand for rabbit meat because of consumer awareness and preference to white meat.

To begin with, please consider your production objectives – rearing for meat or breeding, source of feeds and market. If you decide on rabbits for meat purposes, go the medium-sized rabbit breeds like California White, New Zealand White and Chinchilla since they are early maturing, have higher meat-to-bones ratio, possess good mothering instincts and have high prolificacy.

Rabbit contracting companies are out to help farmers in this sector grow. They offer support mainly in terms of initial foundation stock, rabbit management trainings and marketing. Since you want to go commercial, it is important that you guarantee these support services to remain stable in the industry.

California White, New Zealand White and Chinchilla are early maturing, have higher meat-to-bones ratio, possess good mothering instincts and have high prolificacy.

New Zealand White and Chinchilla rabbits are early maturing, have higher meat-to-bones ratio and possess good mothering instincts. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Thereafter, you can expand your business to value addition in both rearing and marketing. One such company that specializes in rabbits and works in liaison with the Livestock Production department is Rabbit Breeders Association of Kenya (Rabak), email them on [email protected]  

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Science, Egerton University

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RAM REARING
I wish to start dairy farming and ram rearing.

I have rented a one acre piece of land at the foot of Mt Kenya. Kindly advise if I really have to start with hybrid cows or I can source indigenous ones? Secondly, what major diseases can affect my cows and for the rams do we have hybrid rams?

Third, is there a genuine and reliable market for rabbit meat without middlemen or was it a big hype like quail eggs?

I have been doing rabbit farming for three years now and all the rabbit companies I have been working with have become conmen. I am now stuck with good quality breeds but no reliable market.

Jack

When starting a dairy enterprise, it is always prudent to establish the foundation stock from using locally available stock that can be upgraded through use of artificial insemination.

Such animals are better adapted to the local conditions and may pose lesser risks at a crucial time when you are still learning about the best management strategies.

The stock can either be indigenous or hybrid cows depending on the available resource outlay. Ensure that your animals are regularly de-wormed and dipped or sprayed with acaricide apart from vaccinating against endemic diseases in your region with the advice of your local veterinary office.

Hybrid rams are available though it may be difficult to ascertain breed constitution ratios largely due to unstructured sheep breeding systems commonplace with most private farms.

Markets for rabbit meat exists in urban and peri-urban supermarkets. However such markets requires one to sign supply contracts beforehand which in most cases fail due to the inability by many farmers to sustain regular rabbit meat supply.

The solution to this lies in adopting a smart breeding strategy that guarantees a steady supply of meat. Kindly visit National Rabbit Breeding and Training Centre in Ngong to get direction of existing market channels and better management strategies

Kimitei K. Ronald, Department of Animal Sciences – Egerton University

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MILK GOATS
I am interested in venturing into goat farming for milk production in Kikuyu, Kiambu County and separately for meat in Malindi, Kilifii County. None of the ventures have been started yet.

1. Where can I get information?

2. Where can I get a graduate ready for employment for the Malindi farm which I wish to undertake goat and beef farming as well as dairy farming?

Mutua

A goats handler milks a dairy goat.

A goats handler milks a dairy goat in Kangema, Murang'a. FILE PHOTO | BRIAN OKINDA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Dairy goats do well in many parts of Kiambu including Kikuyu with a readily available market in the form of a goat milk processing plant located a stone’s throw away at Wangige township.

Contact the directorate of research and extension at Egerton University to get information both on establishing a successful dairy goat enterprise as well as recruiting competent graduates to manage your farms.

Kimitei K. Ronald, Department of Animal Sciences - Egerton University