[VIDEO] Kiambu dairy farmer milks cash from German Fleckvieh Cows

Posted In County News, NEWS - By admin on Monday, February 17th, 2014 With No Comments »


With only two acres of land, Lernard Munga, a resident of Kihara, Kiambu county earns about Sh100,000 per month from his six cows. He takes 60 litres of milk daily to Kiambaa co-operative society which he is paid Sh32 per litre.

“You do not require a lot of money or a big land to practise dairy farming; all it takes is interest and handwork to get the best out of it,”Munga says.

His secret is in crossbreeding a friesian heifer with semen from a fleckvieh bull and the offspring, he says, not only has high milk production rich in protein but is also resistant to diseases among other benefits.

His two-year-old cow christened Selah, a fleckvieh crossbreed, produces 33 litres of milk per day. His milking schedule is morning, afternoon and evening and this has to be strictly adhered to to avoid any milk losses.

Kilimo Biashara #27 Fleckvieh Cows

“I feed my cows on hay, nappier grass and dairy meals and they have not disappointed me. I get good returns at the end of the month and this continues to motivate me,” says Munga.

Munga says he started with only one cow back in 1970 which he bought at Sh600 but now has about 20 cows. A bull goes for around Sh120,000, while a nine-month calf can fetch around Sh150,000.

“Farmers in this area have not fully embraced this crossbreed of dairy cows but I think they are not fully aware of the potential and profit they can get. I believe a farmer is the best teacher to other farmers and I am going to enlighten others to try dairy farming with this kind of crossbreed,” he says, adding that he does not want to depend on his children for any financial assistance.

Dr Anthony Gichohi, Fleckvieh Genetics Ltd general manager, says that fleckvieh breed which is a Germany breed is known as the second largest in the world with a population of over 41 million.

He adds that with only Sh1,000 to Sh4,000, a farmer can get his heifer cow inseminated with the fleckvieh semen and start getting returns just a few months after calving.

“We are trying to introduce to farmers a breed that will give them higher returns. I therefore encourage them to embrace this breed if they want to practice dairy farming as a profitable business,” Gichohi says.

Kenya is an agricultural-endowed economy with the sector sufficiently diversified to produce nearly all of the nation’s foodstuff. Being one of Africa’s chief exporters of basic cash crops, Kenya enjoys a huge foreign exchange from cash crop farming.

But on the contrary, livestock farming, which most farmers practise for subsistence, has been neglected. Fleckvieh, according to Gichohi, is a proven dual purpose breed that if well looked after and can bring in a lot of income from milk and beef.

The breed was first introduced to Kenya in 2009 during the Brookside breeders show which earned the admiration of many farmers especially ranchers.

He discloses that there was some resistance from many farmers in the beginning considering that Kenya is a very sceptical and conservative society.


“It was not easy to convince farmers to use fleckvieh genetics for crossbreeding as this was totally new to them. Our aim is to make Kenya an agri-business country through livestock farming and to make sure farmers make profits from this venture. So for starters, we had to bring in two fleckvieh cows from South Africa and this is what we used to show the farmers when selling semen to them,” says Gichohi.

But with time, smallscale farmers are slowly embracing it due to the returns they are getting. Gichohi says they are motivated to change the life of Kenyan farmers.

They use agriculture shows in various parts of the country to showcase fleckvieh cows to farmers. “We educate and enlighten farmers on the benefits of Fleckvieh breed as opposed to other local breeds,” adds Gichohi.

Fleckvieh Genetics sells imported semen from Germany from 11 selected top bulls of high heterosis, namely Weltenberg, Waterburg, Varus, Rustico, Mangfall, Inzhagi, Improver, Shoot, Zeitlos and Striker, that will give farmers predominantly heifers and occasionally bulls.

This is done through artificial insemination either by a vet doctor or a licensed inseminator. Heifers (F1) mature at 14 months and are usually served at this time and they give birth to the second generation calves called F2 nine months later.

Fleckvieh, the brown- spotted cow, gives good returns investment in terms of milk production with milk quantities of 25-30 litres during the first lactation, 30-35 and 40-45 litres during the second and third lactation respectively.

Lactation is the period when an animal is producing milk 350 days in a year or in 10 months. Being the second largest breed of cattle in the world after Holstein Friesian, Fleckvieh which dates back in 1889 is spread out in Africa, North America, Europe and Bavaria in Southern Germany where it originated.

Gerard Besseling, the founder of Fleckvieh Genetics, attributes the poor livestock farming practised in Kenya to use of infertile animals, low quality breeds and poor animals.

“In Holland, dairy farming is computerised which is more economical and I want to replicate the same here,” says Besseling. “We have so far sired more than 20,000 calves since 2009 and the first farmer to crossbreed using Fleckvieh has a herd of over 60 F1 heifers which he sells for Sh120, 000 each. He has actually made more returns on his investment beyond his wildest imagination. This is a very lucrative venture if all farmers take it seriously and practise proper animal husbandry. We actually want to transform the lives of East African farmers and assist them to earn a decent living from livestock,” he says.

The breed is a cost effective animal with an efficient feed conversion rate, that is, it eats less and produces more. It also has the ability to resist diseases and is not prone to mastitis (a condition that causes the loosing of the udder) and has a longer production life.

In addition it has a very thick skin that is not easily penetrated by ticks making the breed more resistant to tick borne diseases. Gichohi says the breed is spread all across parts of Rift Valley, Nyanza, Central, Eastern and Coast regions.

He explains that they have appointed distributors of semen in various parts of the country who sell the semen to farmers and then liase with vet doctors and licensed inseminators to inseminate the animals.

On affordability of semen, Gichohi says that the prices of the semen vary depending on the meritocracy of each bull and the traits it passes on to the daughters for improved productivity especially in positive milk deviation which is crucial to farmers.

“The high meritocracy bulls’ semen cost Sh4,000 and the cheapest goes for Sh900 which excludes the cost of insemination. We are however in the process of bringing in a cheaper bull by close of the year to make it affordable to farmers and to increase the scope in the market,” asserts Gichohi.

He intimates that embryo transfer is the next frontier of livestock improvement in Kenya. “We hope to start a model school to train farmers on good animal husbandry, modern farming methods and empower farmers so that they have more productive breeds. Farmers should invest in farming practices with the highest returns. We are keen on focusing on empowering farmers to attain food sufficiency in line with vision 2030,” he says.

Farmers interested in learning more of the Fleckveih breed should visit the Nairobi International Trade Fair that is currently taking place at the Jamhuri Park In Nairobi.

More info :www.fleckviehgeneticsea.com

- The Star

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