YOUR ANIMAL DOCTOR

Elgon Kenya's vet addresses issues that livestock farmers usually contend with.

A dairy cows farmer poses with two of his cattle. For efficient milk production, provide quality mineral salt at a rate of 150g for every five litres of milk produced, and an extra 60g for every extra five litres. FILE PHOTO | CAROLINE WAMBUI | NMG 

IN SUMMARY

  • The fact that you served the cows last month, and considering that cows should be rested for two months’ before the next service, this would imply that they had calved at least three months ago.
  • Once you have a foundation of good genetics, now shift to management. Each of your cows should be fed 15-20kg of chopped forage or hay per day.
  • Steaming up is done about two months before calving as happens with drying off of milking.

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Milk production curve
I am Simon and I have a dairy enterprise in Machakos, which has four Friesian cows of which two have calved once.  My plan and wish is to breed my own calves by crossbreeding with other breeds like Fleckvieh or Ayrshire. Two of those that have calved were served again last month.  Kindly educate me on:-
 1. The two (which are still being milked) seem to have reduced milk production from 10-12 litres per day to almost six, and the udder seems to have reduced, what could be the problem?
According to the lactation curve, cows reach peak production 4 to 8 weeks after calving, thereafter milk production gradually declines.

The fact that you served the cows last month, and considering that cows should be rested for two months’ before the next service, this would imply that they had calved at least three months ago.

Therefore, they are just about peak or past their peak production. However, a drop in production by half, if sudden, could be as a result of one or several factors.

Cow factors (mastitis, other diseases or stress), management factors (change in quantity and quality of feeds, poor mineral and concentrate supplementation and insufficient wholesome water).

You may need to get a qualified vet to examine your animals and advice accordingly.

2. What can I do best to increase milk production in future and what should I do during steaming up to facilitate udder growth?

Milk production is a factor of genetics and management. Making genetic leaps using conventional artificial insemination is great but it does take time.

If you can manage, you could go in for sexed-semen although this would require that you have virgin heifers.

Once you have a foundation of good genetics, now shift to management. Each of your cows should be fed 15-20kg of chopped forage or hay per day.

Additionally, feed 3kg concentrates (dairy meal) per day for each cow depending on individual production. You may challenge the animals by increasing their respective dairy meal rations up to an optimal level.

Provide quality mineral salt at a rate of 150g for every five litres of milk produced, and an extra 60g for every extra five litres. Free lick Intromin Mineral block should be availed at all times.

Wholesome drinking water must be available all the time. You need reserve feeds during times of shortages. When quality of your pasture is low, you could supplement with molasses which is energy and minerals rich.

Steaming up is done about two months before calving as happens with drying off of milking. This is to facilitate growth and repair of the udder tissues, ensure sufficient energy for the cow which comes calving time, support development of a strong and healthy calf and building up of body reserves that are used during the first two months post calving.

You may steam up your dairy cows by providing good quality hay, dairy meal concentrate 0.5kg per cow per day and Intromin minerals free choice.

You want to avoid fattening the cows otherwise you predispose them to calving difficulties.

3.Which is the best breed for milk production; at least 40 litres a day?

The ideal candidate for this would be the Holstein Friesian but you must be spot-on on matters nutrition.

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Fattening Kenbro birds

I have Kenbro chickens which I wish to fatten. I am giving them growers that I think is not the best. What do I use to feed them for quick fattening?

Simon

As dual-purpose birds, Kenbro chickens are reared for eggs or meat. Feeds for egg production are different from those for meat. Considering that these birds are heavy feeders, broiler finisher mashes though better, would be expensive.

I suggest you continue with growers mash, but feed adlib. You may add to their drinking water Stimosol, a special oral suspension that contains yeast extracts, B-complex vitamins, organic acids for gut health and minerals, all of which are used to stimulate growth and boost immunity of the birds. 

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Dr John Muchibi is a Veterinary Surgeon and the Animal Health Manager at Elgon Kenya Ltd. Reach him through +254733715102 or e-mail him through Muchibi@elgonkenya.com

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