Farmers in the North Rift have adopted a new innovation of silage making which is efficient and achieves optimum results as compared to the old methods of managing animal feeds.
This is expected to address growing demand for animal feeds in the country with a number of large scale farmers looking to Uganda for importation of affordable inputs.
The use of chuff cutter and the conventional way of harvesting maize using pangas is now being overtaken by a self-propelled harvester.
This has enabled farmers in the region to maximise maize cultivation for production of animal feed through the application of latest technologies where machines are used to process maize stalks for silage making.“Using machines takes the shortest time compared to the manual way,” says Stanley Koech of Eldo-Sirikwa consultants, an expert in feeds and fodder management.Besides speed, he notes, the machine cuts to size (less than an inch) the maize stalks with uniformity and crushes the grains for production of quality silage.
“The conventional way of harvesting normally takes one week on a farm. The mechanised method takes three days without affecting the rich nutrients in the stalks,” he observes. A bulldozer compacts harvested and shredded maize stalks ready for silage making.Koech who spoke during a demonstration on silage making at Seregon farm in Uasin Gishu County, says besides land preparation, the quality of fodder should be factored because it contributes to the speed at which the silage will be ready for consumption by animals.
As Smart Harvest team visited the area, there was activity at the farm as tractors from Nundoroto harvested maize stalks on the six acre farm before transporting it to where polythene had been spread.
“It is easy to know the right time for processing the stalk for silage when it is 30 per cent dry,” he explains. The silage making process according to Koech, takes place between three to four weeks in a cost effective way. The harvested stalks are covered in a polythene. “The polythene comes in handy compared to digging an underground
silage because of water seepage which will in turn destroy the silage, the process is expected to be covered firmly so that heat can assist in decomposi-
tion,” he says.Fodder quality
He adds: “The process ensures that the silage stabilises as the bacteria and oxygen takes center stage and farmers are best advised to open up the poly-
thene to a width of 1.5 metres to feed the silage to animals.”
The brains behind the ideal silage making argue that it is not necessary to mix silage with molasses because maize grains contain sugar and its addition has a minimal effect on how it improves the milk productivity in every cow.
He made a comparison of maize sale and silage preparation and there was no doubt that the latter outdo in market prices. “Maize pricing in the markets goes for Sh2,800 per bag and may fluctuate
depending on government’s directive unlike animal feeds for commercial purposes has high returns,” said Daniel Kiprono a farmer from Elgeyo Marakwet who witnessed the event.Kiprono stresses the need for farmers to shift from planting maize for commercial use and focus on variations from milk increase and animal feeds resulting from maize changed to silage.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Nicholas Kositany the Chairperson Eldoret Dairy Farmers Association (EDFA) who insisted that growing maize for silage is likely to earn most farmers huge profits.“Selling silage at the market for Sh10 a kilo will enable a farmer reap not less than Sh100,000 per month especially at the backdrop of country’s deficiency in animal feeds and giving farmers no option but to buy wheat straw and hay which has minimal value,” he said.
He reiterated the importance ofcontract farming which he termed as a cost effective way of ensuring productivity instead of incurring huge costs to acquire the machines.
“Why should all farmers import such machines that run at a cost of Sh1.3 million instead of contracting the services to those with the machines already,” he posed.
Joseph Lagat an SNV organisation official involved with farmers in the region says the country is currently on high deficit of milk and it can be bridged through the use of technological advancements to provide animal feeds to boost production.
“We have a deficit of 1 million liters of milk and if we are to have 200 farmers each producing 5,000 liters per day, the move cannot be realised with lack of efficient and quality feeds,” he says.
He is urging farmers to attend training organised in the region so that they can gain the knowledge in maximising production.
Source: The Standard- 15th August 2015,Pg 20