alexa Feedback: Experts give insights on varied crop and livestock issues - Daily Nation

Feedback: Experts give insights on varied crop and livestock issues

Friday February 7 2020

Dairy cattle in a farm.

Dairy cattle in a farm. Warts in cattle are also known as Bovine Pappilomatosis Virus (BPV) disease and are cancerous growths on the head, shoulders, around the eyes and external reproductive areas. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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What makes some cows have ‘scales’

I noticed some scales that look like growths on the back of my neighbour’s cow. Kindly let me know the cause and the possible remedy.

-Stephen Maritim, Kuresoi South, Nakuru County

Having seen the lesions from far, you might not have given the correct description of the condition as it is not possible to see scales from a distance.

However, you might have seen any of the three likely skin conditions namely warts, streptothricosis or photosensetisation.

Warts in cattle are also known as Bovine Pappilomatosis Virus (BPV) disease and are cancerous growths on the head, shoulders, around the eyes and external reproductive areas.


They are transmitted when the virus comes into contact with an injured skin on hairless parts of the body. The condition occurs mostly in young animals (less than two years old).

As the animal ages, it develops some degree of immunity and the growths might fall off although the condition might recur after some time.

Treatment is through surgical removal of the growths. Some vaccines have also been tried with some degree of success.

Streptothricosis is caused by the bacteria Dermatophilus congolensis, which affects some domestic animals, more so cattle.

Like in warts, the disease is more common in young animals that have been exposed to moisture and are also in poor body condition.

There is matting of the hairs along the backside with some discharge that later dries off to form dandruff. Since the condition is caused by bacteria, it is treatable by use of antibiotics.

Photosensitisation occurs on the less pigmented or the white areas of the body that are directly exposed to the sun.

Exposure to some plants such as lantana camara and some drugs predispose the animals to the condition. Treatment is through removal of the offending agent.

The condition is different from sunburn, in that it requires some chemicals known as photodynamic agents (like the ones in the mentioned plant) for it to occur while sunburn occurs in the absence of the photodynamic agents.

Like the other two conditions, the photosensetisation lesions are located on the backside on the animal as it is more exposed to the sun.


I want to get into agribusiness

I am a young person interested in agribusiness, especially animal husbandry and horticulture. I’m also thinking of enrolling for a course in BSc. Animal Health and Production.

My question is, how do I get into agribusiness?

-Muthaura Josh

Animal Health training institutions that are approved by the Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) include the University of Nairobi, Egerton University, Kenyatta University, JKUAT-Juja, Meru University of Science and Technology, Pwani University (Kilifi) and Mount Kenya University (Thika).

However, if your aim is to do farming, what you require is basic knowledge in the profession. You can also try diploma or certificate courses on the subject matter offered in some of the listed institutions plus in Animal Health and Industry Training Institutes (AHITIs) such as at Kabete, Ndomba and Nyahururu. Log onto their websites for more details or pay them a visit for information on enrolment.

Answered by Dr Jecinta Mwirigi, a livestock specialist.


I want to rear mealworms

I am interested in rearing mealworms (Black beetle larvae). Kindly help me start a colony.
-Dan Ogaro

Protein is extremely important in all animals. However, protein feed ingredients are the most expensive. A kilo of soybean is Sh60-Sh90 while a kilo of maize is Sh30-Sh40.

There has been huge interest in insects as animal feed and human food. The insects include termites, grasshoppers, locusts and black soldier fly larvae, among others.

You can talk to Talash, a black soldier fly farmer in Nairobi, on 0745719968.

Dennis Kigiri, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


Rabbit urine

I am a large-scale rabbit farmer in Rongai, Kajiado. I collect more than 20 litres of urine in two days. I would like to make this a major product in addition to meat for sale.

Could you please connect me to a valuable buyer around Nairobi and Eldoret.

-Rosemary Muchimuti

Rabbit production is an enterprising business because the animals give different products, that is meat, leather and urine, which is good for the farms.

They also multiply fast and take a short time, around one month to kindle. Rabbit meat is considered high quality white meat because it is highly digestible and has less cholesterol.

Marketing your urine will determine how successful you can be. Start by visiting small farms in your area and tell them about your product, visit the big farms in Rongai later.

Tell people you have a product of great help for their farms while in church, at the marketplace and everywhere else you meet people. You can also use technology to advertise the product online.
Dennis Kigiri, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University


Making chicken feeds on the farm

Kindly advise me on how to make layers feed at home, and the ingredients to use.

Elizabeth Mwihaki

Feeds account for 65-70 per cent of all costs on a farm. This makes feed formulation very important because when you reduce the cost of feeding your layers, you increase your profits.

First is to identify the nutritional requirements of layers, list all the energy feed ingredients available to you; such as maize, maize germ, wheat, barley, pollard, rice and bran, among others.

List also the protein feed ingredients available to you including and not limited to fish meal (omena), soybean meal, and sunflower meal.

From there we can come up with a formulation to mix what is available in a ratio that meets the animal requirements for layer. Premix can be bought as a source of minerals and vitamins.

Dennis Kigiri, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


Bee invasion

Bees have invaded my home and have been living inside the ceiling for the past two years. They are risky. I don’t need them. Please help.


Bee invasion into human settlement is a common occurrence, especially if the environmental factors for survival are met.

Visit the Nakuru County Livestock department for further help.

Dennis Kigiri, Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


How do I top-dressing sukuma wiki

Please advise on suitable fertiliser for top-dressing spinach and sukuma wiki (collard greens).

-Alex Mwendwa

Fertiliser application depends on the soil test analysis. However, different types and amounts of nutrients are required at different stages of growth.

Fertiliser application should thus be based on the soil nutrients availability and the stage of growth of the crop. This helps in increasing the yields and reduces nutrient loss.

During planting, one should use DAP or any fertiliser that has phosphorous for root development.

At week four, top-dressing should be done using nitrogenous fertilisers such as CAN or urea as this encourages the vegetative growth of the crop.

This can be repeated after four weeks depending on the crop’s nutritional status.

The Best crops to grow in Kinangop

I have two acres in Njabini, Kinangop, in Nyandarua County, and would like to utilise them maximally.

What are the best crops, fruit trees and livestock that can be grown and reared there?


It’s good to plan before starting any investment. First, you need to identify the target market to avoid producing crops that have little or no demand in the market.

Kinangop is a cold region, thus cabbages, carrots, potatoes and peas can do well there. Fruit trees such as tree tomatoes also do well in the region.

It’s important that you conduct a soil test analysis that would help you to know the nutrients available in the soil. This will also guide you in determining the crops to grow and the type and quantity of fertiliser or manure to be used.

In terms of livestock production, you may opt to have cattle, and plan to grow fodder on the farm as this would be cheaper as compared to buying the fodder.

Taking care of tomato seedlings

How does one make a good seedbed for tomato seedlings and take care of them?


To be a successful tomato farmer, it’s ideal to identify the correct varieties depending on the ecological conditions of your locality.

The nursery bed should be prepared adequately. A raised nursery bed would be ideal in areas that are prone to flooding, while sunken beds would be best in the dry regions to conserve moisture.

You can also use pots or seedling trays to raise the plants.

Management practices in the nursery include watering at the right time and quantity depending on the soil moisture contents, and the weather conditions.

Other management practices are weeding to control all unwanted plants that would compete for the nutrients and harbour pests and diseases.

Control pests and diseases in the nursery such as Tuta absoluta, and provide shade if necessary. This should be done until the seedlings are ready for transplanting.

Seedlings are ready for transplanting after three to four weeks but before this is done, they should be hardened for them to get used to the ecological conditions that they are likely to get in the field or the seedbed.

Answered by Ann Macharia, agronomist.


Control of thrips

I am an agronomist in Nyeri County working in the Coast region. Please advise on where I can get biological control products for thrips?

-Michael Muraguri Maina

Thrips can be a real menace, especially when they invade a horticultural farm. Biological control is a more effective method of dealing with thrips with minimal or no effect to the environment.

There are various companies in Kenya that offer biological control products against thrips. They include Dudutech Kenya, Real IPM Kenya and Koppert Kenya. They are as listed below;

Dudutech: They offer Hypotech, Sticktech Blue, Rolltech Trap, Amblytech C and Beauvitech WP. Each of them is effective against thrips.

Koppert: They offer Ulti-mite Swirski, which provides a suitable environment for the build-up of predatory mites and other natural enemies that can thereafter help reduce the population of thrips.

Real IPM: They offer Mazao Prevail, which contains Beauveria bassiana, an effective fungal entomopathogen against thrips.

Jayo Manyasi Tracyline, Department of Crops Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University.

Tips for growing strawberries

Kindly brief me on the best methods of growing strawberry. I intend to start the project in Nyahururu.

-George Njihia

Strawberry is a good fruit that is rich in ascorbic acid and more so lycopene (Anticancinogenic) compound recommended for men above 50 years, who are likely to have problems with prostate diseases.

Strawberries can grow in almost every part of our country provided there is constant water supply and stable temperature in the range of 10 to 30°C.

To get started, you need some land to plant your crop. An eighth of an acre would be adequate for a beginner but if you are in an urban setting, you can invest in a few containers (which you can then put in your backyard) and start farming.

Once you have secured a good piece of land in a place that has adequate water supply, start looking for seedlings. The best variety to go for is Chandler, which is perfectly suited for the Kenyan environment. You will require about 3,000 seedlings for an eighth acre.

Land preparation: Till the land, remove weeds and then soften the soil. Later on, add some manure from rabbits, sheep, goats or cows and ash to ensure a healthy supply of nutrients to your crop. Proceed to plant your strawberry seedlings, leaving a distance of 30cm in between rows.

Also, leave at least 50cm between any two sections of the farm as pathways. It takes about 70 days for the crop to mature and produce the first fruits.

But because the fruits are highly perishable (stay fresh for 4-5 days after harvesting), it is advisable to start looking for market early enough to avoid incurring losses.

Demand is readily available in major urban markets especially among green grocery suppliers.

Harvesting: An eighth-acre can produce between 30 and 50kg of strawberries per week. Moreover, you can increase your farm’s productivity by investing in drip lines through which you can triple the productivity. But start with sourcing for the right seedlings.

Peter Caleb Otieno, Department of Crops, Horticulture and soils, Egerton University.

Eliminating weeds

Every time I plant a new crop, the first thing to grow are weeds. My question is, how can I kill them without doing it manually?

Gugulethu Xagasa

You can apply pre-emergence herbicides so that the weeds can die before you plant the crop you intend to plant.

Kindly visit the nearest agrovet for purchase of the herbicide depending on the weeds whether broadleaved or narrow-leaved.

You should also prepare the land early before planting to expose weeds to the sun to enable them to dry before you plant the main crop.

If you didn’t refer to weeds, then kindly resend your question.

Carol Mutua, Department of Crops, Egerton University.