Feedback: Experts give insights on addressing crop and livestock issues

Wednesday March 18 2020
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A poultry farmer feeds her chicken. Broilers are a good venture for poultry contract farming since their production cycle is short. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Broiler chickens

Please connect me to firms that offer broiler chicken contract farming at a capacity of around 2,000 birds per month.
Jacob Onwange

Contract farming is becoming popular in many livestock sectors. Broilers is a good venture since the production cycle is short and, therefore, you can make money after a shorter time, about one-and-a-half months.

Please visit websites of any big poultry-producing companies and engage them.

-Dennis Kigiri
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University


I need a supplier of kienyeji chicks

I’m looking for a supplier of day-old Kienyeji chicks. Are you able to connect me?
Mercy Okumu

There are many suppliers of day-old Kienyeji chicks in almost all major towns. You can check online but only go for registered or credible ones.

-Dennis Kigiri
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University


Feedlot system

I want to learn more about beef feedlot system. Please advise.
Kipkurui Langat

In the feedlot system, beef animals are concentrated on a farm with the main objective being fattening them for the market.

In this system, beef animals are fed on high-protein meals, given clean water all the time and all management practices for the animals put in place.

The beef breeds include Angus, Charolais, Hereford, Simmental, Shorthorn, Sahiwal and Boran.

-Dennis Kigiri, Department of Animal science, Egerton University.


Know the difference: Pure breed vs pedigree

Kindly explain the difference between a pure breed and a pedigree cow.

Stanley Waitagei

Pure breeds are animals that are true to type, which means their parents are of the same breed while pedigree are pure breeds at high production level with recommended conformation traits.

The pedigree can range from pedigree 1 to infinity.

-Alvin Ochiel
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


Poultry production

I am interested in poultry production and would like to know more about the following:
a) Construction of chicken structure.
b) Making my own feeds.
c) Handling and feeding of chickens.
e) Training on vaccination and diseases.

Poultry production encompasses many things including but not limited to housing, feeding, breeding, chicks, growers and layers management, bio security, vaccination and disease control.

These are huge topics that can only be highlighted but details given on training in the subject are for interested members and are offered on demand at Egerton University.

Housing depends on the number of birds to be kept, locally available materials and wind direction, among others.

Making your feeds means sourcing all the ingredients needed and having some machinery for grinding and mixing using formulas for different animal types.

Poultry management is crucial for the success of the farming venture and entails strict adherence to vaccination and disease prevention. Kindly reach out to the university for more details.

-Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal Science, Egerton University.


Making dairy meal at home

Can one make dairy meal at home using wheat bran and soybean, that is, 3kg soya and 29kg wheat bran as was implied in the Seeds of Gold edition of January 4? What is the energy percentage in wheat bran and soya?

You can make your own dairy meal using soybean and wheat bran. However, it is important to source several energy and protein sources to balance the nutrient requirements in terms of energy, protein especially amino acids, minerals and vitamins.

-Dennis Kigiri,
Department of Animal science, Egerton University.


I am selling an incubator

I need your help in finding a buyer for a chicken egg incubator, capacity of 500 eggs.
Lynda, Kakamega

Advertise your incubator on online marketing platforms. They offer free advertising and you stand a chance of meeting a large number of potential buyers.

Moreover, there are sites created specifically for agriculture-related commodities as well as livestock. All you need is to put the specifications of the incubator, price, your contact information and location.

-Alvin Ochiel
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.


ABCs of farming nutritious okra
I am planning to venture into okra farming. Kindly advise on the venture and possibly connect me with someone already practising it.

Second, I am based in Ruiru, are the soils favourable for the plant?

Okra is a herbaceous annual plant that is grown for its edible seed pods. It has small erect stems that can be bristly or hairless with heart-shaped leaves.

They can grow up to 1.2-1.8m tall and as an annual plant, it survives only one season. It’s also known as lady’s fingers.

Okra’s young seed pods are eaten fresh or cooked as vegetable while dry seeds are used in oil extraction. Okra is a heat-loving plant that can do well in a greenhouse or hot areas.

Soil: It requires well-drained, light sandy to medium loams. The soil should be of high organic matter. The pH should range between 5.8 and 6.8.

Temperature: It should be grown in areas with high sunlight and grows in hot temperatures of at least 18.3°C for optimal growth.

Propagation: Okra is propagated from seeds and planted directly. Seeds are soaked in water together with optimiser overnight before planting to break dormancy to enhance germination.

Spacing: It’s planted in rows spaced at 60x45cm or 60×30cm.

Rates: Okra seed rate is 18 to 20kg/hectare for summer crop and 10 to 12kg for rainy season’s crop.

Thinning: Do it at a spacing of 15-22.5cm when they are four to six weeks old to reduce the final plant stand.

Maintenance: Okra requires moist soils for optimum development. Water should be applied at a rate depending on evapotranspiration in a hot area, but in cooler climates, it requires less water as it tends to cool the plant restricting the growth.

Fertiliser application: Apply 220kg together with Humipower (from any agrovet) at a rate of 1kg/50kg of fertiliser to reduce soil acidity, to improve soil structure and to amend the soil before planting seed.

Well-composted manure can do well at one debe per 4m2. In case of chemical fertiliser, chicken manure can be spread on the farm a week before planting.

Weed control: Shallow cultivation can help control weeds after they emerge between crop rows. Cultivation is the most effective weed control method when properly timed.

Too early cultivation could lessen the benefit of pre-emergence herbicides. Hand hoeing within rows should begin as soon as weeds emerge. Clampdown 200ml/20l is applied as pre-emergence and pre-plant to curb weeds.

Harvesting: Okra pods are ready for harvesting two months after planting. Pods are generally ready to harvest four to six days after flowering depending on the variety.

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

Growing watermelons

Please link me up with a watermelon expert.
Jane Mutheu
Watermelon is a warm-season crop and will therefore do well in hot areas. Kindly contact me at [email protected] for more information.

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

I want to plant watermelons for the first time in Kilimambogo, Thika. Please guide me on spacing, fertiliser application and the best time to spray.

Harrison Kamau
Watermelons are warm-season crops and they require a long growing season of high temperatures.

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 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 leading to higher disease incidence.

Weeds should be controlled, especially when the melon plants are young as they 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.

The most common varieties are Charleston grey, Sugar baby, Sukari F1 hybrid, Pato F1 and Early scarlet. The spacing is 1.5m between rows and 1m between plants.

There are a number of pests and diseases which attack watermelons and spaying should be done when pests and diseases are observed.

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


I want to farm french beans on contract

I would like to start planting capsicum and French beans, but my biggest problem is the market. I am told I can get a company to contract me. Kindly advise.

Govedi Asutsa, Kitale

This is a good enterprise you are intending to start. I would kindly advise that you start with capsicum immediately to boost your income as you think about French beans, which work best if you are a contracted farmer.

Capsicum has market everywhere even in hotels in Kitale. Let’s know if you have been assisted by the firm, if not get back to us for more expert advice.

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


Best sorghum varieties

Which are the best improved varieties of sorghum and where is the market?
Dominic Ainda

With the current unpredictable weather conditions, planting crops such as sorghum is the best practice. Depending on the area you are in, varieties developed by Kalro and Icrisat have been released in the market. They include:

a) Kari Mtama 1: White in colour, which takes three months to mature.
b) Gadam: It has brown grains that mature in about three to four months.
c) Serena Seredo and Serena are brown and mature in three to four months.
d) Mtama 2: This is white in colour and matures in three to four months.
e) E1291 and E6518 both take seven to eight months. They are brown in colour.
f) 1S76: It is white in colour with a maturity duration of three months.
g) BJ28: This variety is brown in colour and takes seven months to mature.

These varieties can be found in local agro-shops in your area or any Kenya Seed Company agrodealers.
-Jayo Manyasi Tracyline, Department of Crops, Egerton University.


I am looking for these farm produces

I am urgently looking for regular suppliers of the following fresh produce for my grocery shop at Kahawa Sukari in Nairobi.

Cabbages, bananas, carrots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, butternuts, partially ripe bananas, avocados, oranges and sweet potatoes.

Forward your price quotes and terms of business to 0723863614. E-mail: [email protected]

There are so many farmers who are looking for a market for their produce. I am sure you will get plenty of feedback.

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


Mango processing

I am Nisreen Juzer from Malindi. I read about a horticulture self-help group which processes mangoes. I want to set up a processing plant, please assist me with their contact.

The group is called Karurumo Horticulture Self-Help Group and is based in Embu County.

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