Smallholder dairy farmers often require concentrate mixtures to supplement the diets of their dairy cattle. These concentrate mixtures are essential for providing additional nutrients and energy that may be lacking in the animals’ forage and grazing. The exact composition of concentrate mixtures can vary depending on factors such as the animal’s age, weight, milk production level, and the availability of local feed resources.

Different Concentrate Mixtures For Smallholder Dairy Farmers

What are concentrates?

Concentrates are mixtures of commercial feeds, such as dairy meal, cubes and pellets, and individual ingredients, such as the milling by-product wheat feed, maize germ meal and cottonseed
cake. Concentrates are mainly sources of energy and protein, but they usually also contain minerals and other important nutritional requirements that cannot be met from forage alone.

Concentrates are rich in nutrients—energy or protein or both. They provide far more nutrients than an equivalent weight of forage. They are low in fibre and their dry matter content is usually high. In dairy production, concentrate mix is always used to supplement a basal diet, which is normally forage.

Why feed concentrates?

Present-day high-producing cows are the result of years of genetic improvement programmes. Now, however, poor feed, inadequate in both quality and quantity, is a major constraint in efforts to improve the productivity of livestock in many smallholder production systems in East Africa, whether mixed farming, pastoral or agropastoral.

The principal sources of feed for ruminants in mixed crop–livestock systems are crop residues complemented with forage collected from communal land, forests, roadsides or fallow land, or by grazing animals on those lands. This feeding regime often does not meet the nutritional requirements for maintaining high milk production of dairy cows. Adding a supplement of concentrates helps meet the high demand for nutrients needed to assure top milk production.

Dairy animals require nutrients for maintenance, growth, foetus development and milk production. Just what each animal needs depends on its physiological state. Forages, the basic diet of ruminants, do not contain sufficient nutrients and minerals to meet the feed requirements for dairy animals, especially for high milk production. Concentrates, rich in the nutrients that are deficient in forages, balance the diet.

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Concentrates also improve intake of forages especially when the forage is of low quality, which is usually the case in smallholder production systems of East Africa. But too high a proportion of
concentrates in the diet interferes with rumen fermentation and decreases digestion efficiency.

How can I make concentrates at home?

  • Have a list of all available feed ingredients
  • Group the ingredients according to availability of the macronutrients (energy, protein, minerals). The general rule where a weighing scale is not available is to mix the energy (the cereals) and the protein feeds (the oilseed cakes + leaf meals) at the proportion of 3 to 2. Use minerals and premixes such as lysine in small amounts as shown in table 2. For mineral sources not listed in the table, seek information from advisory services.
  • Identify a good, clean mixing area. Farmers with a herd of 5 or more milking cows can acquire feed mixers with outputs as little as 500 kg per hour from manufacturers of machines for
    small industries.
  • If you are mixing manually, start mixing the ingredients being used in small proportion—for example, mix the salt + mineral then add the yeast. Mix thoroughly, using a clean shovel.
  • Continue mixing with the shovel to ensure that all ingredients are distributed well throughout.
  • Store your mixed feed well. Gunny bags are commonly used

Some examples of different concentrate mixtures are given, which can be prepared on-farm to supplement dairy cows. The feeding value of these mixtures compares to commercial dairy meal.

Dairy Feed Formula No 1 
Wheat bran / Maize bran45 Partsor45 kg
Maize grinded / No3 Mealie meal16 Partsor16 kg
Cakes (cottonseed / sunflower)35 Partsor35 kg
Mineral mixture (DCP)2 Partsor2 kg
Common salt2 Partsor2 kg
Total100 Partsor100 kg
Dairy Feed Formula No 2   
Number 3 Mealie meal58 Partsor58.0 kg
Sunflower Cake38 Partsor38.0 kg
Mineral mixture (DCP)0.5 Partsor0.5 kg
Lime stone1.5 Partsor1.5 kg
Salt1.5 Partsor0.5 kg
Dairy Premix0.5 Partsor0.5 kg
Total100 Partsor100 kg

Dairy Feed Formula 3

Wheat bran / Maize bran45 Partsor45.0 kg
Maize grinded / No3 Mealie meal15 Partsor15.0 kg
Cakes (cottonseed / sunflower)37 Partsor37.0 kg
Mineral mixture (DCP)1 Partor1.0 kg
Common salt1.5 Partor1.5 kg
Dairy Premix0.5 Partor0.5 kg
Total100 Partsor100 kg


  • Out of 1 kg of each of these concentrate mixtures a cow is able to produce 0 – 2.5 litres of milk per day
  • Such concentrate mixtures should contain about 16 -17% crude Grinded cow pea and pigeon pea can be used in stead of cakes, in case these are grown by the farmer.
  • Velvet beans can be grinded and given up to 20 % to replace the If one wants to incorporate velvet beans in the above feed formula no 3, one can mix 20 parts velvet beans and 17 parts cottonseed cake.


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