Home GENERAL NEWS The clinic: Experts give insights on varied crop and livestock issues

The clinic: Experts give insights on varied crop and livestock issues

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I wish to buy dairy animals with proven milk production of at least 30 litres per day either in their first or second calving. They could be Friesians or Ayrshires.

One sure way of acquiring animals with the qualities that you desire is sourcing them from a producer who has registered his animals with the Kenya Livestock Breeders Association, formally Kenya Livestock Breeders’ Organisation (KLBO).

The registration process involves record-keeping and upgrading of the animals from a pool, from foundation, intermediate, appendix to pedigree stages with performance increase in that order.


The registering body, which is located in Nakuru County, can provide a list of farmers whose animals are registered but individual farmers are also supplied with certificates by KLBO, which one can use to verify the information.

Marula Farm in Naivasha has some animals for sale. You can contact them on 0724908998.


Kindly advise me on how to prepare dairy meal at home and the required ingredients.

Dairy meal is a concentrate feed specifically designed for cattle that are being milked to boost milk production. A crude protein (CP) content of 13-18 per cent is desirable in dairy meal production for animals that produce between 10 and 30kg of milk per day respectively.

The energy source and minerals should be 70 and 1 per cent respectively. Protein sources include cottonseed cake, sunflower cake, soybean or soybean meal fishmeal, dried brewer’s yeast and dry poultry waste, among others, while energy sources include wheat and rice bran, oats and maize or maize germ.

Milk production premix, which is a mixture of mineral supplements is available in agrovet shops. To achieve the desired protein level, one must know the amount of crude protein in the raw materials and this is available from sellers of the feed materials.

The calculation on the amount of each material to be used involves subtracting the lower value from the higher value of CP diagonally with the desired level being in the middle.

In the example given in diagram above, the desired protein content is 18 per cent and one has soybean meal with a CP of 47 per cent and wheat bran of 15 per cent CP.

Subtract 18 from 47 to get 29 parts for wheat bran and subtract 15 from 18 to get three parts of the soybean meal requirement.

The total requirement is 29 plus three, which equals 32 parts, thus by mixing 29kg of wheat bran with 3kg soybean meal, you get a dairy meal with 18 per cent CP.

I have 200 litres of rabbit urine and I am looking for market, please help.

Rabbit urine is rich in many nutrients and can be used as a foliar fertiliser or pesticide. You can sell the urine to crop farmers in your locality especially if production is in smaller quantities.


I am interested in beekeeping in Kericho. Kindly advise me on the market prospects to realise high yield of quality honey.

The Ogiek community has been known to keep bees in Kericho while the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) of 2018-2022 says that the relevant ministry is supporting bee farming through provision of hives to groups.

This shows bee farming is a viable enterprise in the county. For higher yields of quality honey, you need to, among others, familiarise yourself with the value chain.

Some of the issues to consider include the type of bees to keep; with the stingless being the better option; type of beehive; vegetation and suitable beekeeping environmental conditions; management practices to adopt; pests and diseases of bees; expected honey production; how to process the honey; what to do with by-products like wax; contacts for extension service providers; honey and by-product markets/marketing channels; products standards; quality assurances and branding; customer prevalence and projected product prices.

If you intend to be a small-scale producer, you have to join local beekeeping organisations for economies of scale in marketing while large-scale production dictates that you do a thorough market study.


What are the qualities of good beehives and where can one buy them?

A good beehive is easy to construct and repair, has the ability to contain bees, is affordable, has ease of mounting and bees handling, has longevity, has minimal intrusion of brood during honey harvesting and has higher yields of quality honey among others.

Beehives or beekeeping equipment can be acquired from public organisations such as the National Beekeeping Station and Baraka Agricultural College, Molo. Contact Cosmas of National Bee keeping on 0721575332 or try 0725777421 for Baraka.


Where can one get a market for rabbits and their urine?

There is a big market for rabbits due to the growing demand for white meat. Rabbit urine is also in demand due to its high fertiliser qualities.

Try Deevabits on 0733301507 for the rabbits and any organic farmers in your locality for urine marketing.


When should I wean my calves and what vaccines do they require?

We assume you are a dairy farmer. Weaning is the transition from liquid to solid feeds. The key to weaning is a gradual changeover.

Calves are weaned though the age, weight or growth formulas are dependent on breed. The calf can be weaned at 12 weeks or when it attains double birth weight. They can also be weaned when they are able to consume 1.5 per cent of their body weight of dry feeds.

Routine vaccines include Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) and Lumpy skin disease (LSD). They can be administered at any age and a booster given every six months for FMD and annually for LSD.

When the challenge is high in the case of FMD, the booster should be administered after four months. There are many strains of FMD and the one that has four (quandrivalent) is highly recommended. These strains are O, A, SAT 1 & SAT 2.

Other diseases vaccinated against when need arises include brucellosis, anthrax and Rift Valley Fever. Brucellosis causes abortion.

Anthrax causes sudden death in animals. Vaccine should be routine in areas with high incidence of the disease. RVF is transmitted by biting insects.

RVF incidence is high during the rainy season due to multiplication of the vectors. Areas that are prone to flooding are more vulnerable.


I need advice on the construction of a two-storey raised floor poultry house. Where can I get sketches? Your help will be appreciated.

You have not indicated whether you want to raise broilers, layers or local breeds and how much space/land you have.

However, sketches for storey poultry houses that recommend concrete or timber houses are available but disease control is a challenge in the timber structures while the concrete houses are not only expensive to put up, but have a low return on investment.

Both structures also require some space. Unless you have special reasons why you wish to put up storey buildings, I recommend that you purchase the cost-effective and minimal space-consuming battery cages.

The structures are an arrangement of reinforced wire mesh cages on top of each in layers (tiers). Some of the cages are fitted with automatic water systems, feeding units, egg collector arrangements as well as waste management provisions.

Eggs from birds kept in these structures are cleaner, and there is minimal feed wastage.

The challenge with the battery cages is animal welfare concerns due to the confining nature of the structures. This can be overcome by increasing the space allowance per bird as well as installation of perches.

Battery cages can be bought online and locally. Try Ecochick on 0727087285 for battery cages.

Answered by Jecinta Mwirigi, livestock specialist.


I recently bought land in the Eastern part of the country and I am interested in olive oil farming. I wanted to know the climatic conditions suitable for the crop, location and market demand for the crop.

The crop does well in arid conditions. The altitude range is between 800m and 2,500m above sea level. It does well in forest soils, but once established, it can withstand poor soils with little moisture.

The demand is relatively high as it is used in the manufacture of olive oil products and edible oils. Livestock also browse the plants.

Where can I get onions at wholesale price? I am in Thika.

You can get onions at wholesale prices in Thika through online platforms such as Thika Fresh Onion. You can also consider meeting wholesalers at Githurai market or visiting farms that produce onions on a large scale.

I am thinking of planting high-yielding seeds of Jatropha curcas for oil and wish to know which type of soil is good for such farming.

Jatropha curcas does well in moderately sandy to loam soils and neutral pH.


I’ve noted several coffee trees have been attacked by fusarium, which causes bark blacking and rotting, two inches below the surface. Please advise on what to use.

The affected materials should be burnt to prevent the spread of the disease. Pruning should also be done to remove the bushes and control the spread.

While carrying out the management practices, avoid causing injuries to the plant. Spray with a copper-based chemical such as copper oxychloride to control the diseases.

I am interested in growing soybeans in Laikipia County. Where can I get information on farming the crop and the right seeds?

Get certified seeds from institutions such as Kalro as well as training on soybean farming. Also visit your county government for extension services and information on the ecological conditions of your locality.


What is aquaponics? How available are pipes and nutrients?

Aquaponics is a nutrient-recycling farming system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. In aquaculture, animals like fish are grown in tanks, while hydroponics uses water and inorganic fertilisers to grow plants in the absence of soil.

In aquaponics, however, the sediments of fish waste matter and waste feeds in the tank are used as organic fertiliser instead of chemicals in hydroponics.

The water from the fertiliser-based hydroponics is purified and reused in aquaculture. Many crops can grow in aquaponics but to optimise on space, vegetables like kales and spinach as well as fruits such as strawberry are best suited.

Aquaponic equipment is available locally or can be bought from online markets like Alibaba. Try local sources such as Grandeur Africa 0722522168/9724526976

How does one grow ginger? Kindly assist because I want to start the project since the prices are good.

Before starting the project, have a ready market since prices of agricultural produce fluctuate. This will guide you on the variety to produce and season. It is essential to conduct a test to analyse the nutrients available and the suitability of the soil.

The plant is propagated from the rhizomes, which are separated into setts. The setts should be pre-germinated before planting. Land should be prepared to a fine tilth. Deep cultivation is needed to ensure adequate rooting depth.

Well-decomposed manure should be incorporated into the soil when preparing land. The soils should be fertile, well-drained loamy with a pH of 4.5-6.5.

Setts are planted in ridges 25-30cm apart, 15-30cm within rows, and at a depth of 5-10cm. There should be adequate watering to enhance uniform germination.

One should be on the lookout for nematodes and other pests, which affect the rhizomes. These can be controlled by crop rotation.

Weeding reduces competition for nutrients and light. It also controls pests.


I would like to grow ‘njahi’ but have never attempted to. Please advise. Can I do it in Mt Elgon?

Dolichos lablab, commonly known as njahi, should not be grown on land that previously had a leguminous crop. It does well in altitudes of 500-1,800 metres above sea level and tolerates drought. It does well in areas that receive little rain and in a wide range of well-drained soils.

It is important to get a variety suitable for your region. The bed should be prepared to a fine tilth. The seed rate is usually 25 kilos per acre. The space between rows should be 45cm and 30cm from plant to plant.

Once the crop has established, it has an excellent ability to compete with weeds. Weeding should, however, be done two to three weeks after germination.

Diseases such as stem rot should be prevented by ensuring the soil is drained properly. One should also control thrips.
The crop takes four to five months to mature, depending on variety.


Please advise on how to make tomato paste. Is there a market for the paste?

Tomato paste can be prepared in the following steps:

Sort, grade and clean the tomatoes.
Set up the heat source and place a large pot with water ready to sanitise the tools and equipment to be used.
Put the tomatoes, a few at a time, in the pot of boiling water for not more than a minute.
Remove the tomatoes from the pot and place them in cold water for a minute. This makes the skin to slide off fast.
Scrap the skins, bruises and tough parts using a knife and hands.
Cut the tomatoes, scrape out the seeds and squeeze the fruit to remove excess water.
Place the tomato pulp in a screen or sieve to drain excess water.
Blend the tomatoes. Fill your jars with the paste.
The paste can be preserved by letting it cool to room temperature and later in the freezer container.
On a commercial basis, it’s essential to register your processing unit so that you can brand and market your products.
Answered by Ann Macharia, agronomist

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