Forester who dumped trees to built a model dairy farm
3 months ago, 14 Sep 07:35
John Njoroge knows plenty of things about trees, canopies and forest conservation, because that is what he studied at the Kenya Forest College in Londiani.
However, when you meet him on his dairy farm in Kiminini, Trans Nzoia County, the last thing you expect him to be is a forester as he speaks with the mastery of a livestock expert.
Njoroge, 43, runs a model dairy enterprise on an acre, with the farm comprising of 81 Friesian cows kept under the zero-grazing system.
“I started the venture in 2012 with one cow and a calf using Sh60,000 that I had saved from my work as a petrol attendant. I have grown my herd to 81, where 23 of them are lactating while 58 comprise of heifers and in-calf cows,” says Njoroge, who holds a diploma in forestry.
He later added four cows, and concentrated on improving them, later selling each at Sh200 000 each.
He, thereafter, bought a herd of 15 cows after borrowing Sh600,000 from the Co-operative Bank. His herd has improved since then.
His cows, which are milked by machines, produce up to 800 litres of milk daily, with the highest milker offering 55 litres per day.
“The average milk production per cow, per day is 22 litres while the average production for the herd per day is 506 litres,” says Njoroge, who has employed eight workers, each handling 10 animals.
The farmer has leased 25 acres where he grows maize for the production of soilage and a further 10 acres where he grows Boma Rhodes for making hay.
“I also make my own dairy concentrate because I found dairy meal expensive. I make it from maize bran, maize germ and remains of fish and omena I get from Uganda.”
Njoroge feeds his animals the concentrate depending on the amount of milk they produce.
A cow that offers 30 litres of milk gets (30-5)/2 = 12.5kg concentrate over and above the forage portion of the diet.
“This formula is used to avoid underfeeding or overfeeding the animal. We consider a normal cow which has not been fed on dairy meal to be producing about five litres, so when we feed it with dairy meal the additional milk it produces we subtract five from it then we divide by two to get the amount of feed to give the cow,” he says.
His milk yield per cow has been increasing ever since he learnt and adopted the formula, which has enabled him not to waste any feeds.
Njoroge, whose dairy enterprise is known as Sprout Dairies, sells the bulk of his milk raw at Sh40 per litre in local markets in Kiminini, schools and the county government. He also supplies Brookside.
“I don’t sell any milk from the farm to avoid congestion and to get value for my milk that I produce. All the milk is taken at the market where it is sold,” says Njoroge, whose model farm attracts hordes of farmers who visit for lessons.
Without good breeding, Njoroge’s farm would not be the marvel that it is today. He buys ...
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