Advertisement

Feedback: Experts give insights on addressing crop and livestock issues

Friday March 20 2020
feedback img

Turkeys in a farm. Turkeys can be vaccinated against a number of diseases that include Newcastle, fowl cholera, haemorrhagic enteritis and fowl pox. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS

The key vaccines that turkeys need: Why are my turkeys dying prematurely?

An article on turkey rearing that appeared in the Seeds of Gold on January 12 left out details on vaccines. I have successfully managed to hatch poults three times by having the turkey hen sit on eggs for 28 days.

In all the three cases, the hatchability rate was 100 per cent. l use the correct feeds and give Gumboro and New castle vaccines just as recommended for chickens.

My challenges start when the poults are between eight and 10 weeks old since they begin dying one by one without showing any serious signs of illness.

The only noted sign is that they start being less active on day one and lose appetite and within three to five days, they die. What could be the cause?

-Rosemary

Advertisement

This to me sounds like an infectious process with age predilection. Different poultry diseases may present similar signs (that of sick bird syndrome) and, therefore, it may be difficult to ascertain the specific disease process.

A better way of diagnosing this problem would be to carry out postmortem on fresh dead carcasses to check for specific pathological pattern and lesions (this is only done by a trained and registered animal health professional).

Reducing diseases in a flock entails proper feeding, housing, general hygiene, biosecurity and vaccination. Turkeys are tolerant to common infections that affect chickens (and may act as reservoirs).

Turkeys can be vaccinated against a number of diseases that include Newcastle, fowl cholera, haemorrhagic enteritis and fowl pox.

The vaccines and bacterins are given to young ones in the first four weeks of hatching when they are more susceptible to infections.

Some of these products may not be readily available in the Kenyan market while others are used for general poultry vaccination regimens.

Dr Ngetich Wyckliff, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Egerton University.

****

Setting up efficient biogas unit

I deal with biogas digesters and I saw in the magazine recently someone needed information on how to start a biogas project. Please put me in touch with her.

-Robert Kagwi

Biogas is basically a mix of gases, primarily consisting of methane and carbon dioxide, that result from the breakdown of organic waste in the absence of oxygen.

The technology is now popular among livestock farmers, increasing the demand for biogas-producing systems and flexible biogas among other peripherals.

You can gain mileage and wider client base through advertisement in the Seeds of Gold magazine at a modest cost. Please send your contact details to [email protected] for further action.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

****

Small scale dairy farm layout

Could you please share a layout diagram for a small-scale dairy farm?

-Solomon Dube

Dairy farming can involve cows or goats. Assuming you meant cows, less than 10, it is important to note that common breeds in Kenya are Friesians, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Jersey.

I have farm layouts showing how a unit can be divided into offices, animal houses and stores and there are also layouts showing the housing designs.

Kindly reach me on [email protected] for more details.

****
Honey extractor

I am a beekeeper with a number of hives. Please help me with information on where l can purchase a medium honey extractor.

James Muthui

Beekeeping is a lucrative business where the insects do more than 90 per cent of the production. This means your investment is minimal but the gains are huge.

Products include beeswax, bee venom, propolis, queen bees and honey. Honey has many social and economic roles. Check online for companies selling the medium honey extractor both locally and internationally.

Dennis Kigiri, Department of animal sciences, Egerton University.

****
Getting into poultry business

I want to venture into poultry farming, please share the contacts of Hodge Mutwiri.

-Kimanthi Kimaru from Maua

Hodge Mutwiri runs a poultry farm in Makutano Junction in Meru Town. He also manufactures livestock feeds after expanding his enterprise.

Reach him through 0722776093. Feel free to write to us to further supplement the new knowledge you’ll acquire.

Felix Akatch Opinya, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

****

Major duck diseases

Kindly name and explain the common duck diseases?

-Farmer

Ducks are a bit more tolerant to common infectious diseases that affect poultry but nevertheless, they may come down with severe diseases especially when their immunity is compromised.

The diseases can be divided into categories based on the causative agent. Bacterial infections can include Salmonellosis, Streptococcal Infections, Escherichia coli (E-coli) infection and Pasteurallosis.

Viral diseases include Duck virus hepatitis (DVH), Duck virus enteritis (DVE; duck plague), Avian influenza and Newcastle disease while fungal conditions like aspergillosis can be a major factor affecting duck health.

Diseases in the flock can be controlled or prevented by observing biosecurity measures to ensure zero or minimal introduction of diseases into the premises where ducks are kept.

Dr. Ngetich Wyckliff Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Egerton University.

****
My cows have swellings

What kind of treatment can I use on my two cows? The first one has a swollen eye and the second has a swelling at the back of the thigh.

-Anele Tshonapi

I would like to ask a few questions. Do you know the cause of these problems? Are they traumatic (caused by pressure/injury/attack by other animals) or infections?

How long have they been like this? Do the swellings affect adversely the animals, for example they are not feeding?

Have you attempted any management and what was the response? Answering these questions will inform the management protocol.

You may not need an injection if the lesions are superficial and do not involve inner tissue and do not affect the physiology of the animals like seeing, feeding, walking or lying.

If they are only within these areas, you can do home therapy of hot fomentation (massaging with towel soaked in warm water) and maintain hygiene to avoid secondary infection.

If the situation is serious, injection might be warranted but this can only be done by a trained and registered animal health professional who should visit your farm, assess the animals and make recommendations on the appropriate treatment regime (either antibiotics alone or in combination with other drugs or even surgical approach to the swelling on the thighs).

Dr Ngetich Wyckliff, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, Egerton University.

****

Making fertiliser from worms
Please explain how one can make liquid foliar fertiliser using worms.
-Antony Toweet

Liquid foliar from worms is referred to as worm tea or worm juice. To make foliar compost or worm tea, you will need the following; a porous bag such as a cheesecloth, rainwater, a bucket and the worm castings.

First, fill the bucket with water, add molasses to the water as this will serve as food for the micro-organisms. Then add finished compost or worm castings to the porous bag and tie the end of the bag.

Place the bag of castings in your container of water and let it stay overnight. In the morning, you will have a bucket full of liquid compost to apply on your plants.

Hezekiah Korir, Crops, Horticulture and Soils Department, Egerton University.

****

Growing the best watermelons

What variety of melons can do well in Nakuru and which months are the best to plant?
Joel Gichana Nyamigwa

Watermelons are warm-season crops and they require a long growing period of high temperatures. Thus they cannot do well in cold areas.

You can plant them in a greenhouse to do well or during the hot months in Nakuru. Good vegetative growth requires 18-32oC, the optimal being 18-24oC.

They do well in areas with up to 1,500m above sea level although they perform very well in lowlands. Watermelons can be grown in the highlands but the fruits will be of low quality compared to those produced in hot areas.

Watermelon does well in a wide range of soils as long as they are well drained. However, if grown in heavy soils, growth will be slow and fruits will be of low quality.

Remember too much water or lack of water will lead to fruit cracking.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

****
I am trying to plant watermelons in Nanyuki to rotate with French beans. Please guide me on growing the crop?
Walter Ndegwa
Watermelon is propagated from seeds, which are directly planted in the field. The seeds are readily available at agrovets.

There are different varieties like Charleston gray, Sugar baby, Crimson sweet, Sunday special, Sukari F1, Asali F1, Sweet melon Galia F1, Moon and Stars and others.

Watermelons are warm-season crops and they require a long-growing season of high temperatures and will not do well in cold areas.

Good vegetative growth requires 18-32oC, the optimal being 18-24oC. They do better with adequate water supply.

Within a growing season, at least 400mm of moisture will be required. Soils should be well-drained and with good water-holding capacity.

The pH should be 6.0-6.8. Watermelons have been grown successfully in sandy soils, where water supply is adequate.

However, the best soils are sandy loam or silt loam. Application of nitrogenous fertilisers is based on soil type. Soils with high organic matter require 80kg N/Ha, while light soils require 140kg N/Ha.

The nitrogen fertiliser should be applied and incorporated into the soil at planting time. Phosphorus and potassium applications are based on soil tests, and both should also be applied at the time of planting.

The best melons are those raised under irrigation. Most of the soils under which the melons are grown are light, which require frequent watering to maintain good growth.

Depending on the environmental conditions, 450-600mm of water is required within a growing season. Water can be applied through drip or furrow irrigation.

Use of sprinkler irrigation raises the humidity within the canopy and this leads to increased disease incidences. Weeds should be controlled, especially when the melon plants are young.

Weeds offer greater competition by shading the melon plants. Weed control can be achieved by application of black plastic mulches, cultivation and use of herbicides that are registered for use in melons.

Pests and diseases

Diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, alternaria leaf spot, anthracnose and fusarium wilt cause problems under certain conditions.

Insect pests such as cucumber beetle, which is a vector for bacterial wilt, aphids, flea beetles and melon worms cause problems and can be controlled using suitable insecticides.

Phytophthora fruit rot affects watermelons during heavy rains. To control the disease, you should apply a fungicide when fruits start forming because the disease does not affect the leaves.

Avoid planting watermelons during periods of heavy rainfall. The plants need water in the first few weeks of growth but when they start producing fruits, they need little water or if you are irrigating, you can stop.

As the fruit develops, the less water it gets, the better as this will increase the sugar content and sugar concentration in the fruit making the fruit sweeter.

Harvesting

Watermelons are ready for harvesting in about three to four months. Maturity is indicated when the fruit gives off a hollow sound when tapped with knuckles.

The fruit stem should be cut with a sharp knife rather than broken by hand.
Watermelon growing areas in Kenya: Machakos, Embu, Kirinyaga, Loitoktok, Garissa, Isiolo, Keriovalley, parts of Meru and mid-hot coastal regions.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

****

Pomegranate

Where can I buy pomegranate seedlings to grow in Makueni, which is 1,200-1,400m above sea level?

Malombe

Pomegranates do well in altitudes of 1,800m above sea level. Hot and dry climate is good during fruit development, faster growth and high yields.

The optimum temperature during fruit development is 36-38°C. Pomegranates do well in a wide range of soils as long as they are well drained, deep and rich in organic matter. Lack of moisture in the soil leads to fruit cracking.

Therefore, it is advisable to water the plants at least once a week in the dry season. The plant is rarely affected by pests and diseases but pruning should be done.

Don’t allow the fruits to ripen on the trees to avoid cracking, which occurs because they contain a lot of sugars, making them to pick a lot of water.

You can get seedlings from Oxfarm Ltd on 0706222888 or Lavington Plants Centre (Wilson Ndungu 0714 080532).

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University

****

My melons rot

My name is David and I farm watermelons in Kangundo. These days, I find most of my fruits, small and rotten. Please help.

Phytophthora fruit rot affects watermelons during heavy rain seasons. To control the disease, you should apply a fungicide when fruits start forming because the disease does not affect the leaves.

Avoid planting watermelons during periods when you expect heavy rainfall. Watermelons need water in the first few weeks of growth but when they start producing fruits, they need little of it or, if you are irrigating, you can stop.

As the fruit develops, the less water it gets, the better as this will increase the sugar content and sugar concentration, making it sweeter.

Make sure you plant certified seeds, avoid growing watermelons in a field where cucurbit plants (pumpkin, cucumber or butternut) had been grown because they are affected by the same pests and diseases.

Practice crop rotation with cereals or legumes or other crops that belong to different families. The rotting could also be due to attack by melon flies, which puncture the fruit skin and lay eggs inside.

The larvae then feed on fruit tissues. Affected fruits develop soft tissues, attracting mould and leading to fruit rotting.

Melon fly can be controlled by use of pheromone traps, covering or bagging individual crops, which may be tedious for a large farm, field sanitation by collecting the rotten fruits and putting them in a black polythene bag and keeping it in the sun or burying the fruits deeply in the soil.

Carol Mutua, Egerton University.

Advertisement