More hay needed to maintain year-round milk production

Saturday January 13 2018

Gilbert Kirui of Massey Ferguson discusses a point on the Massey Ferguson baler with Njoroge Njuguna during the recent World Ploughing Championship.

Gilbert Kirui of Massey Ferguson discusses a point on the Massey Ferguson baler with Njoroge Njuguna during the recent World Ploughing Championship. This latest Massey Ferguson baler uses Centerline Technology to reduce crop losses and work at higher speeds with reduced mechanical handling giving farmers greater productivity. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 

By BRIAN OKINDA
More by this Author

The 2017 drought affected both the supply of milk and the earnings of the 600,000 Kenyan dairy farmers which highlights the need for more hay to maintain a steady year round supply of milk.

Back in 2013 the Ministry of Agriculture’s sessional paper number five stated that fodder for cows accounts for approximately 70 per cent of the total expense of milk production.

This has probably become an even greater farm cost in the light of climate change and inflation.

Dairy farmers are highly dependent on rain fed fodder which results in fluctuating seasonal milk output. During the rainy season there is a surplus of grass, but the dry periods cause shortages which underlines the need for more hay.

There is a noticeable increase of interest in hay equipment to meet the rising demand for hay.

In order to satisfy this demand, hay production must adopt methods to preserve the nutritional value and efficiency of storage of the bales.

Hay bales should weigh a consistent 15-23kg with a moisture content of 18-20 per cent to be safe for storage. Any more moisture content provides a host for fungi growth, which can lead to fire risk!

As with any agricultural process the use of modern and appropriate equipment contributes significantly to achieving the desired result.

The latest Massey Ferguson balers use Centerline Technology to reduce crop losses and work at higher speeds with reduced mechanical handling which give the farmers greater productivity.

A unique feature on these balers is the design of the knotters which allows for use of the organic sisal available in the local market.