Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Farm level feeds formulation.

By Bett Kipsang'

SILIKEP Members pose for a photo outside their office.
Sipili Livestock Keepers (SILIKEP) is a community self help group of 30 members from Sipili. The group specializes in livestock rearing; a profitable venture which has not been fully exploited. The activity also poses a lot of challenges if care is not given. ‘‘The vision of the group is to keep high quality and productive livestock’’ said SILIKEP chairman Mr. Peter Mwaniki. 

One evening, Ann Wanjiru a trader and livestock health specialist invited the Maarifa Centre Staff to witness the process of feed formulation by the group.

The group was meeting at their office room within Sipili market. Ann briefed them before the actual process of feed formulation begun.

The chairman gladly informed the group of how he has gotten lots of assistance from the Maarifa centre, including typing of the bylaws used to register the group five months ago. The group is also working in collaboration with other development workers from the government, NGOs and the private sector to ensure that their goals were met.

 Farm level feed formulation was started in Sipili by Ann Wanjiru. She carried out a lot of research from books and the internet at the Maarifa centre and came up with methods of mixing ingredients which she used to train farmers. The tools required includes: weighing machine, spade and mat, and the ingredients includes; Maize germ, Wheat bran, cotton seed cake, sun flower cake, wheat Poland, limestone, DCP, Borne meal, fish meal and vitamin premix for making layers mash. DCP is substituted with formulated salt like (macklick) for the dairy meal. 100 Kilograms of layers mash and 100 Kgs of dairy meal were made on that day. 

Homemade feeds are of high quality; this is because the farmer has a choice to mix the ingredients in the required ratios. Powdery ingredients in commercial feeds sometimes sip through the bags during transport, a challenge solved with homemade feeds since movement, if any, is minimal. The cost of producing feeds at farm level is relatively low because the farmer can supplement the commercial ingredients with locally available materials. Cotton seed cake can be supplemented with Dolichos, Lucerne or any other available legumes. 

Ann mentioned that, while preparing her notes for the training, she visited the Maarifa centre to do research from books and on the internet. ‘‘Information sourced from the Maarifa Centre was very helpful’’ said Ann. SILIKEP members recounted different ways each has benefited from the Maarifa centre saying that it was a blessing to the Sipili community. They acknowledged that feed formulation was a simple undertaking that can be done at home by any farmer.

After preparation, farmers used the new feed for two weeks and made the following observations: Peter Mwanki reported that milk from his cattle increased by one litre per milking. After using the feeds john Maitho reported an increase in milk from 2.5 litre to 4 litre. Mr. Njuki’s and Joyce Wangari are poultry farmers who used the new feed. Mr. Njuki’s hens increased eggs from 3 to 12 per day. On the other hand Joyce Wangari reported that after using the home made feeds the number of eggs collected per day rose from 2 to 7.

Mrs Watetu’s hens improved laying from from 0 to 9 per day. SILIKEP chairman praised ALIN and maarifa centre for providing an access to the information.

Animal feed needs to contain various groups of nutrients, and the composition depends on the nutritional requirement of the animal being fed, its age and growth stage. Generally, protein is the most necessary element for body building and maintenance as well as milk production.

Without proteins, there would be no weight gain or milk production. Carbohydrates provide energy and body fats. Fats provide energy and the excess is converted to fat and stored in the body.

 Minerals help in body building as well as in biological regulation of growth and reproduction; it’s also a major source of nutrients in milk. Vitamins help regulate the biological processes in the body and become a source of nutrients in milk. Water on its part helps in body building, heat regulation, biological processes and a large constituent of milk production as well as eggs.

Basically, feed’s organic nutrients are required by the animals for three things: as materials for the construction of body tissues (growth and maintenance), synthesis of products such as milk and eggs, and a source of energy for work done. The work done include both metabolic (heat increment and maintenance) and physical e.g. walking and feeding.

Minerals are chemical elements which form important components of animal feed ingredients. The elements are essential in ensuring normal and proper functions of the body as well as in maintenance of good health. Lack of these essential elements in the diet causes cattle to show deficiency symptoms, like sickness poor health and low production. Some elements are required in relatively large amounts compared to others. For this reasons the minerals have been classified as 'macro-minerals' (required in larger amounts) and 'micro or trace-minerals' (required in minute amounts).

Macro-minerals are: salt, sulfur, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium. Micro-minerals are: like iron, iodine, cobalt, copper, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, Zinc.

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