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

The clinic: Experts give insights on varied crop and livestock issues

Friday January 24 2020

Good housing in a feedlot farming system ensures that the animals are safe from predators and harsh environment

Good housing in a feedlot farming system ensures that the animals are safe from predators and harsh environment and their feeds and water are easily available while solid and liquid waste are disposed of properly. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
By SEEDS OF GOLD EXPERTS
More by this Author

Here’s why Kuroiler chickens stand out

I would like to know where to get kuroiler chickens. What makes the breed better than others?
-Joseph, Kiambu
Kuroiler is a dual purpose chicken that originated from India. It is kept for meat and eggs. It can produce 150 eggs per year compared to the local breed that produces 40.

A cockerel can weigh as much as 3.5kg while a hen can reach 2.5kg. The bird compares favourably with the improved kienyenji that has been bred by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation. Both are resistant to common diseases but need more attention.

Try Pure Kari and kuroiler chicks firm in Syokimau on 0720924317 or Kuroiler and fertilised eggs Nakuru on 0726470140. For birds, call 0708620095.

****
Where can I get a Brahman cow ?

I’m looking for a Brahman cow. Kindly also share the average price.
-Mutiso Duncan

Advertisement

Try Marula farm in Naivasha on 0724908998. The farms sells breeding bulls and could link you to a farm with the animal you want. A breeding bull can cost as much as Sh150,000.

****
How to make own rabbit pellets

I find the cost of commercial rabbit pellets high. How do I make my own rations?
David, Kakamega

Pellets are a major constituent of rabbit feed, more so in the early stages of life. However, substituting pellets with fresh fodder/vegetables and hay for upto to 50 per cent of the diet is recommended in older rabbits as these animals require a diet that is high in fiber.

Materials used for making rabbit pellets include carbohydrate/energy sources such as barley and wheat mill by-products; protein sources like soyabean meal and sunflower cake; vitamins; and minerals. The grain should be ground to facilitate digestion.

Crude protein level of 15-17 per cent is desirable for the concentrate while energy sources range between 20 and 30 per cent.

Crude fibre can be as high as 17 per cent. The fibre level should be higher than of the protein in each ration. Large-scale pellets can be purchased online while small-scale farmers can use the locally available meat mincers.

****
Growing fodder in semi-arid coast
What kind of fodder can grow in semi-arid regions like Mombasa and Kwale?
-Stephen, Kwale

Fodder growth is determined by soil fertility, rainfall and pH. However, due to the warm and humid climatic conditions of the two counties, fodder is susceptible to diseases and pests.

It is therefore recommended that one selects varieties that are resistant to forage common pests and dseases when establishing fodder.

As indicated by a recent report, soil fertility in the arable land of the two counties is medium to low depending on the agro-ecological zone while rainfall can vary from 500 to 1200 mm per annum. Soil pH is moderate to low (acidic).

Fodder that can do well in such conditions include rhodes grass, Lucern, alfalfa, wild oats, fodder sorghum and tree Lucerne.

****

All you should know about feedlot management system

Kindly provide information on the feedlot management system, highlighting the following: housing structure, feed requirements and best breeds. If breeds are sourced locally with the intention of fattening them for sale, how old should the animals be?
-Maluni Mutiso

Good housing in a feedlot farming system ensures that the animals are safe from predators and harsh environment.

Feeds and water are easily available while solid and liquid waste are disposed of properly.

It also restricts the animals’ movement so that the energy that would have been used in walking is converted to fat, thereby enhancing growth and fattening.

The structure should have a perimeter fence and a roofed shed where the feeding troughs are. You should always maintain good drainage through proper elevation of the floor.

A spacing of 10-25 metre square in the walking area is recommended for one animal.

When the animals are crowded in a structure, their waste produces a lot of moisture that can lead to eye and respiratory diseases.

Feedlot systems are designed to provide high energy rations (concentrates).The diet should be introduced gradually to avoid deaths through lactic acidosis.

This is a condition that occurs when ruminant animals are given too many energy feeds within a very short period. It usually occurs in older animals when the rumen part of the stomach is fully developed.

Maize is a good source of such energy but other grains can be used. All beef animals are good for the feedlot system.
These include Boran, East African Zebu, Sahiwal, Hereford, Charolais and Simmental/ Fleckvieh.

However Boran, East African Zebu and Sahiwals are preferred by local producers, who buy the animals purposely for fattening. This is due to their high feed conversion ratio and affordable prices.

The animals can be introduced to the feedlot sites as soon as they are weaned (seven to nine months); as yearlings (12-18 months) or even at two years.

When introduced to the feedlot too early, the animals tend to grow faster and fat is evenly distributed throughout their bodies.

However, animals tend to deposit fat in certain areas like the back, hump and thighs if they are introduced to feedlots when older.

The latter is preferred for local markets where some customers do not mind the fat while the export market has a inclination towards lean meat.

****

Interested in getting quality kienyeji eggs

Where can I get quality fertilised kienyenji chicken eggs? I am in Rongai.

-Mwangi Ndegwa

Since farm products can be available in any part of the country, it is always good to state the location of the farm, the desired volumes and frequency of supply.

This is because transport is a major expense in farming. Local/neighbourhood purchase is thus recommended for small quantities.

Try Neochicks Poultry, Thika, on 0707787884 for fertilised kienyenji chicken eggs.

****

Queries on variety of tomatoes to grow

I would love it if you’d feature tomato farming in Taita-Taveta County so that we from other regions can get to know the type of seeds used and how they go through the farming cycle.

-Judy Shally, Busia

There are many tomato seed varieties available in the market that do well in different environments.

As a farmer, the most important thing is to understand the ecological conditions and the market demand of your locality.

Some tomatoes are produced for eating raw while others are for processing. Some farmers prefer oval-shaped tomatoes while others go for rounded ones.

Also, consider pests and diseases since these vary from one region to the other. Labour is a factor to be considered, too.

Some varieties require crop support while others do not. Other management practices that are labour-intensive are pruning, weeding and harvesting.

Most varieties in the open field take two to three months to mature, making it possible for an annual three-cycle.

However, one should consider rotating crops with the non-solanaceae family. Greenhouse tomatoes can take six to nine months if well managed.

****

First time watermelon farmer seeks advice

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

-Harrison

Watermelon is a vine crop that spreads on the ground. It requires a spacing of about 1.5mx1m.

During planting, DAP should be used as this encourages root development. Nitrogenous fertiliser should be applied at the vegetative stage.

A spray programme is developed depending on the prevailing weather conditions. Melon fly and thrips are among the pests that attack the melons, while diseases include powdery mildew.

Spraying should be the last resort as there are other methods of controlling pests and diseases, like crop rotation, sanitation, traps and biological ways.

The best time to spray is early in the morning or late in the evening when the weather conditions are cool.

Dehydrator greenhouse for drying vegetables

I am interested in a dehydrator greenhouse for the purpose of drying vegetables and mangoes to flakes and strips. I belong to a co-operative in Kitui County.

John Kivunzi
Contact Grekkon Ltd — Irrigation Hub. Nairobi
+254715157132, [email protected]

****
Where to get Malkia papaya seedlings

Your story on pawpaws was good. Kindly advise on where to buy quality Malkia F1 seedlings. Thank you.
-Samtru Investments

The Malkia pawpaw’s seedlings can be found in Papaya Empire, City Cabanas on Mombasa Road. Contact the firm on 0710819070