Technology development and field testing: access to credit to allow smallholder dairy farmers in central Kenya to reallocate concentrates during lactation
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Romney, D.; Kaitho, R.; Biwott, J.; Wambugu, M.; Chege, L.; Omore, A.; Staal S.; Wanjohi, P.; Thorpe, W. 2000. Technology development and field testing: access to credit to allow smallholder dairy farmers in central Kenya to reallocate concentrates during lactation. Paper presented at the 3rd All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture and 11th Conference of the Egyptian Society of Animal Production, 6-9 November 2000, Alexandria, Egypt. Nairobi (Kenya): ILRI
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/1588
A field trial with smallholder dairy farmers in central Kenya was carried out to study the feasibility of reallocating concentrates as a means of increasing the profitability of milk production. Researchers designed the trial with extension officers, dairy co-operative and feed company staff to ensure that all stakeholders and key players were involved. Central to the design was the provision of feed on credit from the dairy co-operative to its members, the volunteer farmers involved in the study. The role of the research team was to present the technology to the farmers and monitor the implementation and impact. Farmers were not constrained in the way they chose to implement the recommendations, but the research team monitored any modifications as well as recording production parameters and characteristics of the farm and feed management systems likely to explain underlying variation. The recommendation was to feed 8 kg/day in early lactation, withdrawing concentrates completely after twelve weeks so that during the course of lactation the amount fed would be equivalent to the most frequent farmer practice, a flat rate of 2 kg/day. Actual quantities offered by most farmers were reported to be higher than in previous lactations, but varied from 2-10 kg/day. Although some decreased the amount offered between 8-12 weeks post lactation most continued with the higher levels until a drop in milk yield was observed. Milk production increased as a result of the intervention with a large part of the variation in milk yield (r2 = 0.55) reflecting the amount of concentrate offered. Month of calving and sampling also influenced the production response For many smallholder dairy farmers one of the key constraints to making technological changes expected to improve production is the lack of credit to allow them to make investments. The results so far available from our study showed that farmers were able to increase their milk yield as a result of the intervention, and that, as expected, the response depended on the level of concentrate offered.