News and updates on research on livestock value chains by the International Livestock Research Institute and partners

Friday, June 03, 2011

Study identifies feed improvement options for dairy farmers in East Africa

A dairy cow on a Kenyan smallholder farm feeds on maize stover. The East Africa Dairy Development project has identified opportunities for improving production and use of feed resources. (Photo credit: ILRI)

Good quality feeds and forages are crucial for successful livestock production. Studies have shown that in Africa and other developing countries animal feeds and feeding make up 60-70% of total production costs.

Many smallholder livestock keepers face several constraints related to feeds and feeding, including inadequate quality and quantity of feeds, inefficient supply chains and poor storage facilities, all of which have a negative impact on livestock productivity.

The East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project is working with dairy farmers in the region to improve household incomes through integrated interventions in dairy production, market access and knowledge application. The project is currently being piloted in 8 sites in Rwanda, 18 in Kenya and 27 in Uganda.

The project carried out a rapid appraisal in four study sites in Kenya to identify practical interventions towards more efficient use of livestock feed resources and, consequently, increased productivity.

The findings of the study are published in the May 2011 edition of Livestock Research for Rural Development. The lead author, Dr Ben Lukuyu, is a feed specialist with ILRI's Market Opportunities research theme.

The EADD project is a regional industry development program implemented by a consortium of partners led by Heifer International. The other project partners are the African Breeders Services Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM), the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), TechnoServe and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).

The rapid appraisal assessed the livestock feeding practices in smallholder dairy systems; identified where gaps in feed supply occur for feed resources that are not available year-round; and determined some practices that dairy farmers can adopt to ensure a reliable supply of high-quality livestock feed all year round.

The study identified various options to improve the use and storage of on-farm feed resources such as processing of feed by chopping or chaffing which have been shown to increase milk production per kilogram of feed consumed, as well as feed conservation by silage-making and baling of hay to help cope with the dry season shortage and ensure an adequate supply of feed.

However, for sustainable uptake of these interventions, the authors note that there will be need to improve farmer training and access to information, and to strengthen linkages with stakeholders.

Read the full-text article here

Lukuyu B, Franzel S, Ongadi PM and Duncan AJ. 2011. Livestock feed resources: Current production and management practices in central and northern rift valley provinces of Kenya. Livestock Research for Rural Development Volume 23, Article #112. Retrieved June 3, 2011, from

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