By Ken Mellish
Farmers Helping Farmers has been encouraging Kenyan dairy farmers to grow better forages to feed their milking cows.
Corn or napier grass when harvested at the correct time can both supply high quality feed for milking cows.
Corn has a high yield per acre and gives the energy cows need to produce milk and get pregnant with another calf.
Napier grass will provide energy but also much needed protein for production.
Farmers in Kenya have increased growing these crops and the limiting factor on many farms is storage of these crops at peak maturity.
FHF staff have been demonstrating making silage from these two crops with good results.
However, the limiting factor is getting the crop chopped finely and quickly. Silage must be chopped and sealed the same day.
Farmers would either use small choppers or chop by hand. This made an uneven product and was very slow to get a volume ready for silage.
In early 2020, FHF bought three diesel-powered choppers and gave them to three dairies for use by their farm members.
These choppers were powered by 20 hp diesel motors and could chop enough forage for several farmers a day.
These are stationary and the grass or corn is brought to them and fed into the machine.
The silage is blown into the pit and covered with plastic.
The reports from the use of these has been very good with an increase in feed farmers are getting more milk and buying less feed from off the farm.
Cows are in better condition and the farmers are making more money from selling more milk.
All of this is of even more importance as farmers work hard to support their families and produce milk for the local population.
Again, FHF responded to a need expressed by the farmers we work with.
They do the hard work of using the tools, we provide for the tools for them.