Farmers tend to trust one another even when they cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information provided.

Many get disappointed when they fail to get the desired results. However, there are farmers who are professional in livestock production. I have obtained useful information from such people.

Erroneous information becomes “factual” when it is repeated over many times such that even people with no experience become “experts”.

A case in point is where farmers believe a black-stone banana flower bud tied to the placenta of a cow helps the placenta to drop off quickly.

The logic may have been that the object provides a pulling force. What proponents of the theory do not understand is that the placenta has finger-like attachments to the uterus.

The attachments have to biologically disengage through a process. This then allows the uterus to contract from the inside, pushing out the placenta.

Disengagement takes up to 72 hours before intervention can be deemed necessary. A weight causes strain on the placenta-uterus junctions and may lead to swelling, making it difficult for the placenta to dissociate from the uterus.

It may also cause infection since the objects tied to the placenta contain germs. They keep collecting more germs when the animal lies down, urinates or defecates. Cows with weights tied to the placenta tend to take more than 48 hours to drop.

Farmers should let the animal dislodge the placenta naturally, unless the cow shows signs of distress like loss of appetite, heavy breathing or unusual nasal discharge. If the placenta does not drop within 48 hours, the farmer should inform an animal health service provider.

PAID FARMER TRAINING AND FARM VISITS

The other area farmers rely on erroneous information is in animal breeds. A majority of farmers keep livestock for food and to get money from the sale of products.

Money may be obtained from sale of animals for breeding, rearing or slaughter. Milk, eggs, wool, hair and manure are major revenue sources.

Kenyans are also embracing paid farmer training and farm visits as sources of money. The latter is called agro-tourism and is gaining popularity as a large population of urban-born Kenyans matures.

When you choose the animals to keep, you should consider the purpose for which you are getting into the business.

I was amused when I visited a goat and sheep farmer last week. In livestock production lingo we call these animals shoats.

She told me she had been advised to buy them by a friend. In fact, she got some of the goats from the friend. Her purpose of keeping the shoats was to have animals for family meat consumption and sale of meat and ceremonial animals to family and friends.

The thinking was good but the choice of animals was inappropriate. This was complicated by the fact that she had been told that sheep and goats do well on grass grazing. Her main problem was that the goats were not gaining weight while the sheep appeared fine. The goats also never came on heat and the bucks did not appear interested in females.

The first thing I noticed was that the goats were more of dairy breeds than for meat. They were mixes of the small East African goat with Saanen and Toggenburg. The latter two are dairy breeds that have narrow necks and hind quarters. They do not pack up meat.

The goats were being fed on a ration of grasses, maize bran and fish meal to supplement grazing but the quantities were small.

HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS CULTIVATED FEED

The animals were in very poor body condition. Under such circumstances, the females would not get on heat and bucks would not have libido.

Goats and sheep have different nutritional requirements and feeding habits. Goats are browsers, doing well on the soft nutritious parts of plants. Sheep are grazers, harvesting grass close to the ground.

When goats are kept in confinement and where there is only low grass, the best thing is to feed the animals on highly nutritious cultivated feed from a raised feeder.

A large quantity of lucerne hay mixed with good quality Boma Rhodes grass and supplemented with an energy source such as pollard-bran mixture would serve the goats well.

Goats need a balanced feed quantity daily as dry matter, equivalent to 3-4 per cent of their live weight. Thus a 60kg goat only needs 2.4kg of dry matter feed. The quantity may be given twice daily or provided for feeding at will.

Goats should also be given sufficient mineral-vitamin mix particularly to provide them with their high dietary requirement for copper. Dairy goats should be added dairy meal concentrate.

I advised the farmer to improve the feeding of her goats with purchased feeds. She would consider planting lucerne, desmodium and fodder crops like caliandra.

Finally she should replace the dairy goat mixes with specific meat goats like Boer, Kalahari Red, Gala and their mixes.

As for the sheep, she should replace her current stock of Dorpa-Red Maasai-Merino mixes with the Dorper breed. The Dorper is a good breeder, fast growing and packs lots of meat. All these shoat breeds are available in the country.

By DR JOSEPH MUGACHIA
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https://i0.wp.com/farmerstrend.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/livestock-breeding-farmers-trend-kenya.jpg?fit=600%2C400&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/farmerstrend.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/livestock-breeding-farmers-trend-kenya.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1#FarmersTrend#TrendingLivestock FarmingFarmers tend to trust one another even when they cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information provided. Many get disappointed when they fail to get the desired results. However, there are farmers who are professional in livestock production. I have obtained useful information from such people. Erroneous information becomes “factual”...New generation culture in agriculture