Tips on raising a heifer and making fruit jam

Monday April 25 2016

A cow handler displays a healthy heifer during

A cow handler displays a healthy heifer during an auction at Eldoret Agricultural Society of Kenya National Show on March 04, 2016. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA. 

RAISING A HEIFER
Please advise me on how to feed a young heifer from birth to maturity and control of diseases.   
Karani, Bungoma

The future of any dairy business thrives on care and management of calves even before they are born. This ensures that calves remain healthy after birth, gain desired weight and grow fast into replacement heifers to start production early. Please refer to Seeds of Gold of July 11, 2015 for a comprehensive guide on feeding. Control of diseases is all about raising the calf in a clean pen up to when she gets housed in a unit. During this time, keep hygiene and sanitation in check. Have a deworming plan and ectoparasites control programme in place, some of these parasites cause diseases, which are costly to treat. Lay biosecurity measures that must be observed strictly. Provide balanced feeds and clean water to arrest any nutritional diseases.
Felix Akatch Opinya,
Department of Animal Sciences,

Egerton University.

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I WANT TO GROW TISSUE CULTURE BANANAS
I am a farmer in Mwala, Machakos County with an interest in tissue culture banana farming. Please advise me on;
    a) The variety best suited for this area.
    b) Where I can get it.
    c) The best-growing practices for the bananas for maximum yield.
Augustine

Tissue culture banana seedlings are not far from where you are. You will find them in Thika, Kandara at the horticulture research institute of KALRO. There you will be advised on the variety you should buy for Mwala sub-county and the agronomic practices to use. Kindly note that the banana seedlings are in high demand.

Peter Caleb,

Horticulture Scientist, Department of Crops Horticulture and soils,

Egerton University.

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I WANT TO SET UP A BIOGAS PLANT
I have interest in starting a biogas project at home. Please provide me with contacts  of some service providers. I have  a  piece  of  land  and  some  heads  of  cattle as a source of organic waste.
Geoffrey Suguvi,
Production Manager, Flamingo Horticulture Kenya Limited,
Naivasha .

Biogas is a mixture of gases obtained through breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. It can be produced from raw materials such as animal manure, agricultural waste and food waste. This technology is quickly becoming popular because of the many benefits it is associated with. Though the initial cost may be expensive, you free yourself of fuel costs after getting biogas even from as few as two animals. Various companies have different cost rates in installing biogas depending on whether you are interested in fixed or portable biogas. One such company is Flexi Biogas Solutions in Nairobi.
Felix Akatch Opinya,
Department of Animal Sciences,

Egerton University.

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FRUIT JAM AND PEANUT BUTTER
I have wanted to process fruit jam and peanut butter for commercial purposes.  My concern has been on food safety and the best preservatives to use (if necessary) or if there options of natural preservatives. Do you have a department where you offer tailored advice for specific products and possibly testing for food safety?
Farmer

While producing value added products like fruit jams and peanut butter, practising proper hygiene and food safety techniques will help the products have an extended shelf-life and prevent food-borne illnesses. The Department of Dairy and Food Science and Technology at Egerton University has experts who can assist during product formulation development of products such as fruit jam or peanut butter. The same experts can offer guidance in obtaining product certification from Kenya Bureau of Standards assuring product safety to consumers. Commercial peanut butter often uses various additives and preservatives to prolong the shelf-life of peanut butter. The hydrogenated vegetable oil is used as an emulsifier and stabilises the butter by preventing the peanut oil from separating from the solid peanut mass, which helps to improve its shelf-life and overall appearance. It also contributes to the smooth creaminess of the peanut butter. Peanut butter also uses sodium benzoate as a preservative, which can prevent mould growth, spoilage and help retain freshness. However, the active ingredient that actually does the preserving is the benzoic acid. There is no apparent risks associated with the use and consumption of sodium benzoate as a preservative, and it is permitted for use by Kebs.
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is another additive and is used in foods with high fat content, such as peanut butter. Even though sugar helps preserve jams, moulds can grow on the surface of these products. No preservatives are required for jam, proper sterilisation and jam filling techniques will ensure extended shelf-life.

Caroline Makau,

Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology,

Egerton University.

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KIENYEJI EGGS WITH WHITE YOLKS
I have been feeding my kienyeji chicken with layers mash. I recently supplied the eggs to one of the supermarkets but later the manager told me they will be buying my eggs at a lower price since they are similar to the ordinary layers eggs because they lack the yellow yolk as other kienyeji eggs. He then advised me to stop feeding the chicken on layers mash if I want them to produce kienyeji eggs. What should I feed my chicken to get high quality kienyeji eggs? Does layers mash reduce the eggs quality? What are the characteristics of quality kienyeji eggs?
Paul

Kienyeji eggs are known for their deep-yellow yolk because of their diet, which is heavily dependent on scavenged feed resources, that is the green leafy feeds. The green feeds contain carotenoids, substance that is responsible for the yolk colour. Birds that feed on maize (or yellow maize), alfalfa (lucerne) or grass meals will often lay deep-yellow-yolked eggs, those on wheat or barley diet will lay light-yellow yolked eggs while those on high cottonseed cake diet will have greenish

yolked eggs. For birds fed on formulated feeds, the difference comes in because the carotenoid content in feed sources such as maize maybe weakened or lost when used in rations. It is important to note that the yolk colour does not affect the nutritive value of the eggs since it’s just a reflection of whether carotenoids are present or not.
Sophie Miyumo,
Department of Animal Sciences,

Egerton University.

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FARMING IN KINANGOP
I am Julie from Nairobi and I have an acre in Kinangop. As you know Kinangop is cold and from the research I have done, farmers mainly in the area grow potatoes, carrots, peas and cabbages. Can crops like cucumber, capsicum, dhania, garlic, ginger and onions do well in such areas?
Julie

I would like to find out apart from potatoes, peas and carrots that are grown regularly in Kinangop, based on our altitude and the cold weather, what other crops can be grown in the area. In addition, where can we get advice on soil quality around the area?
Nyambura

The crops you have mentioned grow well there because they are cool season plants. Now, the other crops like garlic are called warm season crops and need a warmer environment. What you have in mind is really a very good idea; to grow crops that have less competition in the market. My advice is that you try to survey the crops that have high demand in your target market, then if you can afford build a greenhouse 8m width by 60m length and 3m high, tunnel shaped. This may cover an area of quarter acre, and the cost of construction can go up to Sh450,000 depending on the materials used.
For cover material, you can be advised by Amiran Ltd. However, you can enquire more from Egerton University, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils. The crops like cucumber, capsicum, dhania, garlic, ginger and onions can do well in modified environment of greenhouse.
For contract farming, I may advice that you go to see agricultural officers from Lari sub-county and they will assist you to get firm which do this mode of farming in the area. I have been there and I know there people who farm through the method.

Peter Caleb,

Horticulture Scientist,

Department of Crops Horticulture and soils,

Egerton University.