Backgrounder on dairy production

May 12, 2019
Une traduction pour cet article est disponible en Français

Like this week’s Farmer story from Kenya, our Script of the week focuses on dairy farming.

Dairy production is a major economic activity for many farmers in some parts of Africa, and using best practices can make a big difference in productivity, animal health, and farmer income.

Why is this subject important to listeners?

Because farmers involved in dairy production should know:
• How to design and construct a proper cow barn.
• The breeds best suited for dairy production in their environment.
• How to feed dairy cows to ensure maximum milk production.
• How to milk cows properly.
• How to handle milk to prevent contamination.
• The quantity, type, and sources of feed needed for dairy cows and how to prepare them.

What are some key facts?
• Dairy cows should have access to quality feed and water for at least 22 hours per day.
• Dairy cows require 12-14 hours daily rest where they lie down.
• A dairy cow that produces at least 30 litres of milk daily (a “high milk production cow”) should consume 4% of its body weight in dry matter every day.
• High milk production cows can drink over 150 litres of water daily in hot seasons.
• An increase in temperature of four degrees Celsius increases water needs by 6-7 litres daily.
• Pregnant and milking cows require more minerals, and in particular large amounts of calcium and phosphorous.
• In tropical East Africa, lactating cows require 60-70 litres of water daily for maintenance, and an extra 4-5 litres of water for every litre of milk they produce.

What are the big challenges in dairy production?
• Dairy farmers lack knowledge of proper feeding routines, including how to prepare nutritionally balanced feed for their cows.
• The high cost of dairy feed inputs such as commercial feed concentrates, vaccines, and mineral salt licks.
• The high cost of good quality dairy animals.
• Dairy farmers lack knowledge of proper breeding methods.
• The high costs of dairy production and low market prices for milk.
• Lack of availability of land for dairy production.
• Lack of cooling facilities to preserve fresh milk.
• Lack of knowledge of diseases that affect dairy cows.