Dairy Cattle Zero Grazing

July 26, 2017 | Author: leekamunya | Category: Calf, Dairy Cattle, Cattle, Milk, Weaning
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Uganda National Farmers Association (UNFA) is very grateful to DANlDA for funding the production of the Farmers Guide Series. We acknowledge the Policy and Resource Committee (PRC) of the Farmers Organisation Component of the Agricultural Sector Programme Support who approved the funds. Ms Alice Eunice Tibazalika Agricultural Advisory Manager, Uganda National Farmers Association is highly commended for initiating and co-ordinating the development of the books. Appreciatiodgratitude also goes to Mr. Augustine Mwendya Chief Executive Secretary, Dr. Flemming Eriksen Research and Extension Advisor and Mr. Sylvester Kamanyire Kugonza Coordinator Farmers Organisation Secretariat for their invaluable professional guidance and editing the books. Finally UNFA wishes to thank the farmers and extension workers for providing some of the illustrations used as well as their constructive advice on the d r P -


FOREWORD One of the major functions of Uganda National Farmers Association (UNFA) is to provide agricultural advisory services to farmers. This is aimed at increasing farm productivity and production in order to ensure household food security, generation of income and eradication of poverty. Publication of reading materials is one of the ways in which improved agricultural technologies can be extended to farmers. UNFA's agricultural advisory services are demand driven and based on cost recovery. They are implemented by District coordinators, agricultural advisors, extension link farmers and contact farmers. The technologies are introduced to farmers through onfarm demonstrationsltrials, courses and visits to special interest groups and individual farmers. However, coverage is still limited due to inadequate resources. To L n f o r c e these activities, there is need to avail reading materials on specific enterprises of interest to farmers. However, even such materials tailored to their local needs are not readily available. This has contributed to the slow rate of adoption of improved technologies, thus reducing the productivity and production. There has been a growing demand by farmers and private organisations for books that can guide farmers to manage specific enterprises. To address this problem, UNFA has produced farmers' books on improved agricultural technologies with the most up-to-date recommendations in specific disciplines of agriculture. The books are aimed at giving practical guidelines to the farmer on how to manage his or her enterprise profitably. For sustainable production, UNFA encourages all farmers to take on farming as a business. It is advisable that farmers get the relevant training first, and use these books as a reference to re-enforce learning. In addition, they are advised to constantly consult extension workers in their respective areas, as this combination will lead to successes in farming. UNFA, therefore, calls upon all farmers to utilise the information in these books and share it with others so as to cause a multiplier effect in production.

Hon. Maikut Chebet, MP President, Uganda National Farmers Association.


Forew ard Introduction Establishing a fodder bank Housing Choosing the right cow Feeding the cow Milking and milk hygiene Rearing the calf Cow fertility and breeding Health and disease control 10.0 .

Record keeping Further reading




Maximising profit in Fish Farming Increasing income through Rabbit Farming

The secret of growing record sized banana bunches Maize,Sorghum,Finger millet and Rice production Raising income through pig farming Fighting poverty through dairy cattle zero grazing Maximising profit in poultry farming Clonal Robusta Coffee Soil fertility Management 10.

Organic farming


To fight poverty and malnutrition, grow and eat vegetables


Establishment and management of a commercial h i t nursery



Mind What you eat




Background The human population is growing at a very high rate in Uganda. This has put pressure on land use for production of enough food and generation of income to improve peoples' welfare. Due to land fragmentation, the average land holding for small holders is 2.0 hectares. This calls for a production system that maxirnises yields per unit area, time and labour. Zero grazing has been identified as a beneficial production system for providing milk to improve nutrition in homes. It also serves as an income-generating enterprise in the densely populated districts and areas near towns where there is a high demand for milk at competitive prices.


What is zero grazing ? Zero grazing (also called "stall - feeding", "cut-and carry") is an intensive livestock production system in which the cattle do not graze, but are confined in a shed or stall where feed and water are brought to them (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Cows confined ilI a shed



-- 9: What are me advantages of zero grazius (a) -

Zero grazing enables you to keep more cows per unit area of land (higher stocking rate) than in the grazing system. This is achieved by growing high yielding fodder or forage crops such

as Elephant grass, Guatemala, Maize, Lablab, etc. harvested daily andlor ensiled and fed to the animals.

It is


It reduces wastage of forage through trampling, contamination with dungturine and selective grazing that are usually observed when cattle are grazing a tall growing pasture.


Forage can be utilised from areas which might not be accessible for grazing such as road sides, steep slopes and swamps.


You can utilise crop by- products such as potato vines, banana peels and field wastes (maize stover, haulms) in feeding cattle.


Since. the animals are confined, they are less exposed to environmental hazards such as diseases, parasites and heat stress.


The animals conserve the energy that is usually wasted in movement during grazing. It can then be turned into producing , more milk.


The manure can be collected in an easy way. You can use it for biogas production (as shown in Figure 2), or as organic fertiliser for the low cost and environmentally friendly sustainable agriculture.


You eliminate the costs of paddocking and water distribution on the farm.

Figure 2: Producing bio-gas from cowdung


Important points to note: When you are planning to start a zero grazing enterprise, consider the following points seriously in decision making.


Zero grazing is labour intensive. The forage must be harvested daily from the field and, together with the water, t9tp.n to the animal in the sh ' 1url require capital establishment.


Lullauucuull, ~yu~prnent and fodder

You have to maintain the correct ~ I I I ~ U U I Iof ~ forage at a suitable stage of maturity under variable and often unpredictable growing conditions. You may require to conserve fodder in form of hay or silage during the rainy season to offset forage shortages during the dry season. Therefore, you need to plan properly b e l ~ l ~c 1.5.


start! J

What are the reauirements for zero grazing ? When :starting a zero jgrazing unit, the major .. .. . , . capital, laoour, ana Knowleage and skills In managing the enterprise.



1.5.1 Land Land is required for accommodating the farm buildings and growing fodder for feeding cattle. The size required will depend on the number of cattle you intend to keep, and the ago-ecological conditions of the area (climate, soils, etc). In places that receive at least lOOOmm of rainfall per year, the general recommendation is 1.2 acres (0.5 Ha) per cow, excluding the farm buildings. The acreage is bigger in drier areas.

1.5.2 Capital Capital is a key factor in all enterprises. It is needed for constructing the buildings, establishing fodder, purchasing the good quality cow, farm inputs and sometimes labour. T

1.5.3 Labour It has already been stated that zero grazing is labour intensive because the animals stay in one place where'all its requirements are brought. If the farmer is keeping one cow, in .most cases family labour may be



enough. If they are more, or if the family members are employed elsewhere, supplementary hired labour is inevitable. However, to ensure good production, the farmer must take keen interest and participate in management.

1.5.4 Knowledge and Skills For the Zero grazing enterprise to be profitable, the farmer and the labour force should have sufficient knowledge and skills in dairy cattle management. These include: Establishing a fodder bank Housing Selecting the right cow Feeding Milking and calf rearing Breeding Disease control Record keeping Environment consideration


ESTABLISHING AFODDER BANK: Since the animals do not graze, the first thing when starting a zero grazing unit should be the establishment of a fodder bank. This is achieved by growing high yielding fodder grasses such as Elephant grass (Napier), Guatemala or Giant setaria, and legumes such as Lablab and Desmodium species. In Uganda, Elephant grass (Kawanda variety) is the most popular bc is high yielding is drouglht resist;3nt (remains green in the dry sea son) is very !suitable for cutting . ... l t has a hign nutritive value II

mmlre 3: Elepnant grass

Figure 4: Guatemala grass


How do you plant elephant grass? In general, elephant grass requires annual rainfall of over 700mrn per year and an altitude lower than 2100 metres below sea level. It can be grown on most soils, but prefers well drained fertile soils. It should be planted near the zero grazing unit to reduce on the labour requirements for carrying. Before planting, the land should be well prepared by ploughing and, where possible, farm yard manure should be added to fertilise the soil. The best time for planting is at the beginning of the rainy season. It is established using cuttings obtained from mature canes which have grown over two metres high. It is best to use the middle parts of the cane. The cutting should have at least three nodes. Care should be taken not to damage the buds. The canes are planted in rows at a spacing of 90 cm by 60 cm (3ft b 2ft). They should be pushed into the soil at an angle of more than 45 with at least two nodes buried in the


the ground (see Figure 5). Sometimes root splits are used, but mainly for gap filling.

Figure 5: Planting elephant grass using cane cuttings

Insure proper weed control and you can use fertilise~ ields. Apply one bag of NPK (50 kg) per acre at I stablishment, and at every cutting. You can also use ms nstead.

t high , after slr;rry

vlixing elephant grass with legumes: iometimes legumes are interplanted with elephant grass as a means of mproving the nutritive value of fodder and increasing soil fertility. The most commonly used are Desmodium species:

Desmodium intorhnn (Green leafed Desmodium) &d Desmodium uncinahtm (Silver leafed Desmodium). The legume should be planted first in'a clean seedbed. After it has germinated well, the field should be weeded and elephant grass is planted in the same tows with Desmodium. It is better to mix the legume species with an inoculurn before planting to enhance nitrogen fixation. Harvesting elephant grass The best height to cut elephant grass is when it is bu to r0cm high (2 to 3 ft), usually two to 3 months after planting depending on rainfall and soil fertility. If cut before this height, the fodder yield will be low and its lifespan will be reduced. If it grows to over 100cm, the nutritive value will decrease. In the rainy season, it should be cut to a stubble height of 5cm. In the dry season, it should be 10 to 15cm.

N.B: well maintained elephant grass has a dark green colour.


How much elephant grass should be plan1


The fodder yield fiom elephant grass vanes wth --dl, variety planted and the management practices especially weeding and fertiliser application. In high potential areas, one acre is sufficient for one cow. In low. rainfall areas 1.5 acres are recommended per cow. It also depends on whether the f m e r has other supplementary sources of feed such as ago-industrial by-products, concentrates and crop residues. If you have much more than you can utilise, the excess fodder should be cut and conserved in f o p of ei&# silage or hay for use in the dry season. For more details, consult your extension worker. 3.0


Followingthe establishment of fodder, the next requirement in starting a zero grazing unit is the construction of the shed (house) for the livestock. Housing the animals should aim at the following:-


Confinement to restrict the movement of the animal in order to conserve energy for production . Protection for security reasons Sheltering the animal fiom environmental hazards such as rain, sunshine, diseases, worms and external ~arasitessuch as ticks. Ease of operations ( , drinkin ~g and cleaning to maintain hygiene). ~


F a zero.-grazing unit c a Th"e luped into essential (basic) th' and opnonal parts _All , ,e parts art: rlecessary for the smooth operations and comfort to the animal. However, the essential parts must be constructed first before the animal is introduced to the unit. The optional parts can be added later especially if the f m e r has inadequate funds. 13 e table:below shows the various parts of the z(sro grazing unit.

Essential (Basic) parts 1. Cubicles (Resting area) 2. The walking area 3. Feed and water tn 4. The roof 5. The milking placc

Optiona1 parts 6. Calf:Pen 7. Store 8. Fodder chop1ling areri 9. Manure stora-Ee 10. Roof water catchment 11. Water tank 12. A holding crush

The ground plan and the side view of a zero grazing unit are illustrated in Figures 6 and 7 respectively.

During the wmtruction of the uhit, the following should be strongly cons id^:-

Ensure that the f h d i (constructor) adheres to the specifications of measurements as recommended. This is necessary bscause some 1?arts (su~chas tlle walking area, cubicle:s, troughs) once con* icted arc:pemmlent. Mistakes rnade during construction can oe very costly. .

1 .


-- -


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Ensure: that the correct site, ( ing the direction of the ma, is cho: This shoua as re security and protection eon hazards s I


The unit should be closer to the home house and on the opposite side of the wind direction to ensure minimum smell from the manure pit. The u! truction will reduce the costs, dthough this may require n-equent r m a b 0.

Regular mainte


if the unit is essential while in us

In the LGIU gmzing unit, each cow has her own place in the resting area, called a cubicle (see Figure 8). The measurements of the cubicle are very important, and the specifications should be strictly adhered to. It should not be too small for the cow, and not too big to allow the cow to turn around inside the cubicle. The construction should permit the cow to remain rtable all the tim Ilmber of cubicle3 will uepend on the number of W W ~UI the unit. However, extra cubicles will be required to house young stock (heifers). They must all be covered with a roof to shelter the animals agaiwt rain and sunshine. The roofing can l (grass/papyrus mats with be of iron sheets or l ~ c a materials polytheneapaper). The 'iatter are cheaper but require frequent rll6


A roof made 01won sheets should be slanted at an angle so that one side is higher than the other. It should be high enough to minimise the effect of heat on the resting animal. The roof should cover the cubicles and milking dace. The following are the recommended measureme the cubicle for the big Ayrshire): cows (Friesian,

Length Width Roof height

210 cm (7ft) 120 cm (4ft) 210 cm (7ft) on the lower side, 240 cm (8ft) on he highe:rside.

If the cows are small (e.g. Jerseys) the measurements can be reduced to 6.5 ft x 3.5 ft. However, it is better to use the standard measurements stated earlier. The floor of the cubicles should be raised and filled with plain soil such as murmm. This is cheaper and provides comf6rt to the animal. Do not make the floor with concrete, otherwise you may have to provide bedding to reduce the discomfort caused by the rough surface. A mineral box can be fixed at the head of each cubicle for individual mineral supplv to each -n*xv


Figure 8


I rhe walking arc The walking area lies between the cubic me side and the Feed and water troughs on the other. It i 3 metres (10 ft) ' ' wide. 'T I\o roofing is required except in very hot regions. The Floor is made of ' concrete, and the surface should be rough so :hat the COWS Ciannot slip. It should slope from the cubicles :awards the pit for collecting u~rineancd dung, located at one :nd. This allow:;easy clleaning amd drairlage.

rhe feec1and wiater tro~ ughs nr . . or me reea rlne locauon ana water trougns varies with the different designs. For example, in the design by Heifer Project International (HPI), they are located just infront of one of the cubicles designated as the feeding area. However, in the design recommended by National Dairy Development Project of Kenya, the feed and water troughs are located at the opposite 1





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end along the length of the walking area as shown in Figure 9. Irrespective of the design, the feed trough should be such that each cow has 2.5 to 3 ft (75 to 90 cm) to itself. If you have young stock on the unit as well, the water trough should be placed such that both the young stock and mature cows have access to it instead of constructing separate troughs for each side. Fighting between young stock and cows will not occur due to the boundary created between them. The feed trough can be made of timber or concrete depending on the costs and availability of materials. The inside measurements should.be 60 cm (2 ft) wide at the bottom, and should be raised at least 15 cm (% ft) above the ground level. It should not be too deep otherwise cows will find difficulty in reaching the bottom. If it is too shallow, spillage and wastage will occur. For a water trough, a half drum can be used. Each is enough for two cows.

Figure 9: Feed and water trough


The milking place The milking place should be constructed next to the cubicles, and is of the same dimensions. The floor should be of concrete and should slope towards the walking area to facilitate cleaning and hygiene during milking. A feed trough should be placed in front of the milking place for feeding the cows during milking. A head yoke should be constructed to restrain the cow.


Calf I The location of the calf pen depends on the desired design and type of cows kept. For local cows and some crossbred, the milk


letdown is facilitated when the cow sees the calf during milking. In this case, the calf pen should be situated on the side of the milking place. For pure breeds (Friesian, Ayrshire) milk letdown occurs even in the absence of the calf. The calf pen -hould be situated opposite the milking pl an

h e pen should measure by 150 ; Sft). Its floor should be slated and raised above the concrete by at least 30cm to 45 cm (1 to lsft). This makes it easier to clean the floor and the concrete under it. The sides should be open to allow free air novemeint, and high e1 3 contaiin the c:alf inside (see iigure 1(9. The pen can be fixed or movable. A feed trough and water pail hould be placed outside the calf pen to avoid contamination. A nineral box should also be attached outside. Bedding is not ecommended on the slated floor, as they encourage parasites hat may lead to calf diseases.

Figure 10: Calf pen with sla~tedfloor 3-6

The fodder chopping a1rea ['he loader chopping area is usually situarea opposite the store, next to the calf pen and under the roof. The floor should be made of concrete to avoid contamination of the feed. If the labour on the farm is generally inadequate and there are more recommended. than two cows, a fodder chopper (chaff c


Since the fodder can be chopped in an open place near the unit; t fodder chopping arka is optional.

The store


The store is used to keep concentrates, minerals, milk utensils and other equipment near where they are used. It can be attached to the zero grazing unit next to the milking place and opposite the fodder chopping area. However, if finances are inadequate, it may not be built immediately.

The m


Manure can be stored in a pit which may be cemented or not. It should be situated behind the unit at the lower end of the walking area, and large enough to store manure for two days (2ft deep, 2ft diameter:

Holding crush


A holding crush is used for restraining the animals during certain management activities such as treatment, spraying or Artificial Insemination. It should be located on one side of the walking area. It is shaped like a trough. The width should be 1% ft (45cm) at the bottom and 3%ft to 4ft (105 to 120cm) at the top depending on the size of the cows. The height is usually 4ft. The floor should be concrete, and should drain towards a soak.pit if tick control is carried out by spraying.

However, most farmers use the milking cubicle for restraining cows. They avoid the construction of a holding crush as a way of minimising costs. .




.. . '



CHOC Zero grazing is very expensive espec terms of labour, fodder establishment and housing con! I. It is, therefore, imuortant that you keep a cow whose milk production will be profitaible under the available resources. You should choose from the exotic dairy breeds or their crosses with the indigenous breeds. The most common dairy breeds in Uganda are shown in Figure 11.


Friesian This is a strong and heavy animal with very good dairy as well as beef characteristics. The colour is typically black and white. The legs- and the lower part of the tail are white. A well-fed. cow produces over 20 litres of milk per day at the peak of

lactation. Its disadvantage, however, is that the milk has -relatively low butter fat content. It also eats a lot of feed. It is, therefore, suitable for farmers with a big acreage of fodder.


Ayrshire This is a strong animal characterised by a strongly attached, evenly balanced and well-shaped udder. The colour varies from light to deep cherry-red, brown or a combination of any of these colours with white. It has high milk yield but also has low butter fat conteint.


Jersey This is a small dairy animal. I[t is hanldy and tolerates well the climatic conditions in Uganda. Its cc>lour consists of various shades of fawn and white, normally with a black ring around the eyes. Although its milk yield is not as high as that of bigger breeds, it is popular because . its milk,has a very high butter fat cc it withstands the heat of the tropics i t has a low, maintelnance feed intake due to its smal11 size. It is, therefoire, suit;3ble f o- ~farmers with lirniteci fodder acrceage. -

iey Its colour is a shade of This is a rathe~mediuln size a fawn with white:markin~ g clear s ed. Its milk has a golden .--1- I-.-&&-. LU 111gr1 Duller fat content. yellow colour due A-


Other breeds include Brown Swiss, Red poll, and Semental.

Figure 11: Breeds of dairy cattle .






What are the signs of a good dairy cow ? The shape and frame of the cow are good indicators. An ideal dairy cow should have the capacity to consume much feed in order to produce much milk. Its body is shaped like a barrel which widens from the shoulders as you proceed toward the rear. She should have a wide deep udder with four well placed teats. It should not have other rudimentary teats. The udder should be firmly attached high in the back and far forward underneath. It should not be pendulous and not too low below the hocks. Her legs and hooves should be strong and the backline straight. The rear end should be wide and square which will facilitate calving. The mouth should be wide to facilitate consumption of feed. ,Sbe should be Ihealthy, alert, feminine, with no excess fat. However, the best indicator of future production is the amount of milk the cow gives in its first lactation. It is also important to know the history of its parents by checking the records.

Which cow should you choose? If your management is good and there is ample supply of fodder and other feeds (concentrates, agro-industrial products, crop residues), a pure bred heavy producer such as Friesian or Ayrshire is suitable for you. However, if your fodder acreage is low and the climate too hot, it may be advisable to choose a smaller hardy cow such as Jersey or Guernsey, or crosses of exotic breeds with the indigenous cows. In general, cows producing an average of less than 10 litres of milk per day throughout the lactation period are uneconomical c-rzerogr--

hy is fec Feeding the dairy cow is one of the most important activities that deserve special attention as the feeds must be brought to the shed where the animal is housed. The feeds must provide all the required nutrients. These are: Carbohydrates for giving " enerr* Proteins: for body biuilding, ; diseas,es and milk production Fats: for energy and milk production V



Vitamins: for maintaining the animal health and reproduction Minerals: for giving strength to the skeletal system (bones, teeth), reproduction and milk production. Water: necessary for all body processes, reproduction and milk production. It IS important that the feed given to the cow is adequate (both in quantity and quality) to meet its requirements for the following: Maintenance: This is the first priority. The cow must have enough nutrients to maintain itself alive by carrying out the vital body processes such as breathinlg, blood circullation, brain functions, digestion, etc.








, I



Milk Production: Nutrients allocated to milk production are the surplus after satisfying the requirements for body maintenance. Therefore, the quantity of milk produced will depend on the extra amount of feed you give to the lactating









: /

Reproduction: Af ter satisjfying.the requirements for the above, the surplus feed is --&:l:"-A ULIII~GU for reproduction activities such as resumption of heat signs for mating and maintenance of pregnancy. Therefore, ensure that your cow comes on heat early after calving. " by giving them enough feed. A well fed pregnant cc:)w will not abort, and the calf will he healthy and heavy. Growth: Heifers that calve for the first and second time are still growing. Therefore, you should provide extra feed to enable them attain full maturity. Well fed cows usually give their highest milk yields during the 2nd to 4th lactation. But this is only possible if you give them good feed to enable them to grow well. 5.2

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ine cuw:

The followi ng are tlhe feeds that are grazing unilts in U!eanda:




( 1 ,

Which feeds should be fed

nly usec1 on the zero



, I ,

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Grass foddnl

1 I,!:

Grass foddex is the cheapest mean s of feeding the dairy cow. -You should ensure that the grass contributes at least 60 percent of the total feed given to the cow. It is rich in energy and -






- -


minerals. As stated earlier, the commonest fodder grass in Uganda is Elephant grass and, less commonly, Guatemala. (ii)

Legumes These provide high levels of protein in the diet. They may be pasture legumes such as Green leaf Desmodium (D. intortum), Silver leaf Desmodium (D. uncinatum) and Lablab (see Figure 12). You can also plant leguminous fodder trees such as Lucaena Leucocephala, Gliricidia sepium, Sesbar-ia sesban (see igeon I?ea (Cc Figure Cajun) and Calliandra gthyrsus9. (Calliar

Figure 1:

pre 12b: I uung aesuania sesban- a legurnmuus fodder tree V V l 1 F ; l l lCC;UlIlg, LllC I C g U l I l ~ ba C U a U a l Y l l l l A C U ratio of 1 part legum 4 parts of grass.

W l L l l luUUCl

~ I ~ in S a S


Minerals The fodder provided may not contain all the required minerals especially for lactating cows. You should, therefore, provide additional mineral supplements. They can be in the form of bricks for leaking, 'or in a form which can be mixed with the fodder.


Concentrates Some cows produce a lot of milk such that their nutritional requirements cannot be satisfied by fodder alone. In order to fully exploit their production potential, such cows should be given concentrate feeds which are very rich in energy and proteins. The concentrates may be factory prepared (such as Nuvita, Bulemezi Farm Enterprises, Kagodo Feeds, etc). However, if the ingredients are available on the farm, it may be cheaper to make them locally. It is recommended that the concentrate should contain 16% proteins. A simple formula for the home made dairy meal can be:Maize (or maize bran good quality) Maize bran or Rice bran Oil seed cake (cotton, sunflower, Soya) Mineral mix (e.g. Maclik super) Regular ground salt


60 kg 12 kg 25 kg 2 kg

Farm by-products Many farm by-products can be used to feed dairy cattle. 'heyeare particularly useful in the dry season when the supply of green forage is inadequate. They include sweet potato vines (their protein content is nearly as high as legumes), groundnut tops, haulms of pulses, banana peals, maize stover, rice and millet strayvs, etc. The st07Jer and sitraws a~:e very f ibrous and may require special treat]nent (e.;g. with tlrea and molassc!s).

.Figure 13: Sweet potato vines



~ I I


Agro-industrial by products These' include maize bran, rice bran and oil seed cakes which can used a1lone or Iin form1dating l made daliry conc2entrates. olasses iis used a.s a rich source c y. Brevvers' mash is also ,. .... .. or" the ., latter, a gooa source or protein. For proper utllizatlon sion woi ntact yo




w arer

This is perhaps the most important feed. Water is life - without it the animal will die in a few days. Besides, water constitutes up to 85% of milk. You should, therefore, provide water all the time so that the cow drinks what is enough for its requirements.


How much feed sh~ ould be given t(1 the dairy cow' - > *I-- 3 l--The quantity of feeu rne uairy cow can ear in one day depends on its body weight, the amount of milk it produces, whether pregnant and the stage, and whether it is still growing or not. To ensure that the cow gets enough feed to meet all the demands, you should make sure that the feed trough is never empty except at the time of cleaning. You should thoroughly mix the grasses with legumes, ~erwisethe cow will select only the leafy and tasty legumes first. L

-__eheavy cows generally require 70 to 120 kg of fresh fodder per day, while the smaller breeds require 50 to 80 kglday depending on whether supplements are pi or not. Elephant grass, especially if mixed with legumes and fed to Capacity, can support a milk yield of 7 to 10 litres per day. Beyond thll "s, the cow should be given supplementary feeding in form of COI~centrates. In general 1 kg of concentrates should be given for evc:ry 1% extra milk produced. However, your guiding principle hould be the benefits from the extra milk produced compared 3 the cost of the concentrates. Concentrates are usually given at ie time of milking. Extra concentrates may also be given to the airy cow iin the following circumstances: Aheifer in her first lactation should be fed concentrates in a higher rate than other cows in order to allow it to grow. For the first three weeks after calving, the cow should receive more concentrates than her milk yield justifies in order to encourage milk production to rise during the first part of the lactation. During the last two months of pregnancy, concentrates should be given to the cow to feed the rapidly growing foetus and to prepare the udder for the next lactation. This is termed "steaming up" the cow.




Note: (a)

You should not overfeed your cow with concentraes, orherwise it will become too fatty. This will affect thLe COW':s fertililty. Also the deposition of fat in the udder limits milk production abili0'.


Fodder should be chopped into short pieces of 2 to 5cm before feeding it to cows to minimise wastage. This can be done using a pang8 cr a IS shown in Figures 14 and 15 re;spective

Figure 14: Chopping elephant grass usmg a pa;~ga


MILKING AND MILK HYGIENE The milking activity is the "life blood" of the dairy farmer because the profitability of the farm depends on how much milk the dairy cows produce. To be able to compete favourably in the market, the milk must be of high quality (wholesome, clean and free from disease causing organisms). During &lking the f m e r is also able to detect any abnormalities or diseases of the udder, such as Mastitis, which is the biggest danger to the productive life of a dairy cow. Therefore, the farmer must carry out proper milking procedures and observe strict hygiene during milking. This can be achieved through the following steps.


Prepare the milk khed During construction, the milk shed should be sited away fiom sources of bad smell (soak pit, manure pit) because rnilk can easily absorb the smell, which lowers its quality. It should also be free fiom dusty winds. Before the cows are brought to the shed, the floor should be thoroughly cleaned by sweeping followed by scrubbing with soap and water. The feed trough should be cleaned and fill thle requin 3te for the cow.


Ensure clean urensus utensil:3 are properly cleaned. In order to pro1duce cle:an milk. ensure -----r..-.. A L-----. --Metallic contah~rsart: prt:lt:rrt:u ut:r;iiust: 11lt:y art: viler to clean (bacteria are .. be used said to grow in plastic containers even after cleaning), and they should solely for milk. After each use, the containers should be rinsed with cold water to remove the milk, and then washed with hot water and detergent or disinfectant. Finally, they should be rinsed with hot water. They should then be air- dried in a dustfree place. During storage they should be covered with a material that keeps out dust, water and flies. The same treatment should be given to other equipment such as strainers, calf buckets and uddercloth. Through routine practice, sanitation attitudes should be developed by all milk handlers.


Prepare the milker To avoid transmitting diseases through milk, UIG IIIIIKGI sr~ouldbe clean, healthy and free from infectious diseases (e.g. Tuberculosis). Helshe should wash hidher hands and arms with soap and water and should dry them using a clean tc-I


Prepare me cu to and during Imilking is,verycritical in order Proper :handling;of the cow priolr.."G,. ..I..+,. ".I 4La -:I LU Y U l I l U l t l L G 11er to voluntarily yet down" all t l l G lllllk into the pail during milking. All irritating activities (e.g. noise, unfamiliar people, pain) should be avoided. The cow should be milked at regular times. For most cows, milking 4,

is carried' out twice a dai (making and afternoon). However, for heavy producers (over 20 litre'dday)you should maximise yield by milking 3 times. Once led into the shed, the cow is restrained by tying a rope iin a figure of 8 at ," "t,. k to prevent it from kicking the milk pail,I = ~ ~ l in~ Figure w n 16. . the hc~ c joint The hind quarters should be. cleaned of loose hair, dust and manure which would otherwise drop in the milk. The udder and teats should be washed with warm water containing a disinfectant and dried with a clean udder cloth. You .may apply milking salve to avoid cracking of the teats whil ~ g .The cow is then ready for milking.


Figure 16: Restraining the cow during nmilkine


Miking technique Before milking all the milk into the pail, the first step is to test its quality. This is achieved by drawing a few streams of milk from each teat into the strip cup or against any black surface to check whether the milk is normal. If it contains some clots or spots of blood, it is a sign of udder disease (Mastitis). Milk fiom that teat should not be mixed with the rest. The infected quarters should be milked last. The good milking technique is as follows: the base of the teat firmly be1ween thle thumb and the fore- finger to , , . apply ,,,I. prevent the back-flow of the milk. Then pressure on the teat by pressing it against the palm by closing the fingers in succession fiom the top of the teat. This forces milk out of the teat into the pail (see Figure 17). Do not pull on the teat otherwise you mav cause ~ a i nand injurv. Empty the udder quarters and sq,leezing the milk completely by progrt out.

Figure 17: Proper milking technique

Note: The stimulation for milk release (milk let down) lasts for a short time. Therefore, ensure that milking is completed within 5 to 10 minutes. Througho& the operation, be kind to the animal. The cow should continue feeding at ease. You may dip the teats into an antiseptic after milking to guard against bacterial infection. Young cows should be milked first. Remember to clean the floor of the shed to remove spills of milk.


Handling the milk After milking, move the milk to a separate room and filter it into a can using a milk strainer and filter paper. Do not use a piece of cloth . If there is ready market for it, milk should be immediately despatched. However, if it is to be stored over night, you have to pasteurise the milk. This is achieved by heating it until the cream begins to form a thin film on top. This gentle treatment is enough to kill the bacteria without altering the quality of the milk. Do not boil the milk. Leave it to cool in a clean open saucepan. Allow free air movement by using a mosquito net to cover the milk. If you have a cooler, milk should be stored without prior heating.



REARING THE CALF Proper calf rearing is important because: a

Calves form the foundation from whiclI future replacement dairy stock is selected. If badly managed, they get stunted ,and become poor heifershulls.


Healthy calves mean less expenditure on treatment costs, hence more profits to the farmer. Good care ]sing, feeding, hygiene for . the calf recquires g and dislease con~trol.

Calf housing As stated in section 3.5 above, the call JIIUUIU UG 11~ded in a calf pen which has a slated floor, and raised at least 30cm (one foot) above the ground. This is to ensure good hygiene because the urine and manure drop to the ground and minimises contamination of the calf. Feeding colostrum to calves Colostnun is the first milk produced by the cow during the first 3 to 4 days after calving. It is important that newly born calf be given its mother's first milk immediately after birth for 1he follo.wing ree~011s:During the first 36 houl3 bu~u~trum C O I L - ~ ~ dibodies against common diseases from the mother and this protects the calf. It is rich in essential proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats and energy that are required by the calf. It has a laxative effect which helps the calf to get rid of its first faeces. The calf should be given colostrum within the first 2 hours after calving, as the rate of its absorption decreases rapidly after birth. All the colostrum should be milked into a clean bucket. For the first 3 days, the calf should be given 3 to 5 litres of colostrum depending on its body weight. The surplus should be for home use and not for sale. Bucket feeding In modem calf rearing, bucket feeding rather than suckling should be encouraged because the amount of colostrum/milk consumed by the calf can be controlled to minimise over feeding or under-feeding. It also enables the cow to release-milk in'the absence of the calf, and encourages early weaning. .

The milk given should be at body temperature (37'C), and preferably immediately after milking to minimise contamination. Low milk temperature will cause diarrhoea. Ensure that the bucket is very clean by washing and drying it after and before use. Teaching the calf to drink from the bucket is achieved by carrying out the following steps:

Restrain the calf in a standing position by putting it between your legs and holding its head. Open its mouth (you may first dip the fingers into milk and then into the calfs mouth), and allow the calf to suckle the fingers. Then coax the calfs mouth into the bucket containing milk. The fingers are then slowly withdrawn fiom the bucket. The calf will begin to drink. The bucket should be lifted and held at knee level. It should not drink with its head down to avoid gulping the milk too fast, otherwise milk may enter the lungs and cause coughing and diarrhoea as a result of incomplete digestion.

Figure18 : Teaching the calf to drink milk from the bucket


When using bucket feeding ensure that: The utensils and hands are clean You give. regular amounts of milk at regular intervals e.g. 4 times in first 3 days, then t&ce daily thereafter. During weaning, it is given once daily. Do not give too much milk 'he calf is kept in a clean calf pex 7.4

How much milk should be given to the calf? This will depend on the size and age of the call ~ U I UWIIGL~IGIYOU are giving it other supplements or not. You ma:y adopt either of the following feeding requirements:@ Early weaning Late weaning


The early weaning method should be adopted only if concentrates such weaner pellets and young stock pencils are available and economical to use. The calf is weaned from drinking milk at the age of 10 weeks. Start with early weaner pellets, and replace them gradually (10th to 12th week) with young stock pencils and eventually other concentrates such as dairy meal which are cheaper. After two weeks, a little hay or fresh soft grass should be provided to enable the calf to develop its digestive system (rumen) early enough. The following is a general guideline for feeding the unweaned calf. Week 1

Whole milk(litres) 3-5 (colostnrm)

2 3 4-6 7-8 9 10-12 13-14 16 17

3-5 3-5 4-6 3-5 3-4 1-2





Handful Handfill

%kg kg 1 kg 1.5 to 2 kg 2 Kg


.Roughage (grass)

High quality haylgrass 99 99

grass all the time 99 99 99

If the use of concentrmes is not possible, weaning should be delayed until 16 weeks of age.


Water and Minerals Clean water should be provided to the calf starting fiom 10 days of age, at least twice daily. When it starts eating large amounts of dry feed, water should be available all the time. Minerals are very essential for the rapidly growing calf. The most convenient method is to stick up a mineral block inside the calf pen.





Introduction The profitability of keeping dairy cows is determined by the amount of milk produced, and milk production starts only after the cow has calved down: Therefore, the fertility of the cow and proper breeding are very important. The cow should be able to come on heat, at the right age and bred at the right,;fithein oraei to conceive. Some of the key parameters for assessing the fertility of the cow are:-

Age at first calving: Well fed healthy heifers may come on heat (penod when the heifer can conceive when bred) as ekly as 15 months of age. However, it is better to mate them when they have attained physical maturity, and this is usually at 18 to 20 months. The pregnancy period is fixed


(average 280 days). The age at first calving should therefore, be 27 to 30 months. This period can be reduced by good'calf rearing, feeding, disease control and breed. . .


.. .

Calving interval A fertile cow should have a calving interval (the period between two successive calvings) of 12 to 13 months. To achieve this, the cow should conceive within 90 days after calving.

After calxing, the .:cow comes on heat within 25 days. However, service should be delayed until 45 days to allow .the uterus to recover. The number of services per conception should not be more than two. The calvirig rate (the percentage of pregnant cows that reach to calving) should be at least 80%. All these parameters .are also governed by good feeding and control of especially r diseases of reproduction that cause abortion. 8.2

Heat detection "Heat" (also called oestrus) is the period .when the cow shows behavioral andlor physiological signs that it is ready to mate. It is during this time that the female egg (ova) is released by the ovaries, ready to be fertilised by the sperms after service by either the bull or Artificial Insemination. Under zero grazing system, the cow is isolated. It is upon the fanner to observe the cow closely for the signs of heat to enable insemination to be carried out at the most prime time to increase the chances of conception. The signs of heat can be divided into 3 stages: Early stage, prime stage and late stage. In the early stages the cow becomes restless, excited, it bellows and smell other cows. The ears stand out and the eyes are alert. It reduces feed intake w d milk yield that day and sniffs at other cows. The vulva becomes swollen and reddened. This period lasts about 6 hours. In the prime stage (also called standing heat), the signs listed above intensify. In addition, the cow mounts other cows, sometimes it attempts to mount the attendant. There is a transparent mucous discharge fiom the vulva which hangs down like a string. Later, the cow stands to be mounted by other cows or when pressed at the back. This period lasts about I0 to 18 hours.

In the late stage, the signs observed above decrease. The cow will no longer stand to be mounted. Dry mucous will be seen at the base of the tail. In some cases, especially heifer a bloody mucoid discharge fiom the vulva may be seen.

Figure 19 : Signs of heat in a cow Note: Not all signs of heat are displayed. Sometimes environmental factors such as very hot or cold temperatures .modify the signs. Heifers display fewer signs than cows. Silent heat without major observable signs is sometimes encountered. The farmer, therefore, must be very observant and-must use a combination of signs to detect heat.


When !should t.hecow The best time for the cow to be servea is towards the end of the prime stage when the cow stands to be mounted, approximately 12 to' 16 hours after the onset of heat. It is, therefore, important for the farmer to closely observe the cows to know exactly when the cow comes on heat. Observation should be at least twice a day and once at night (during milking, feeding, etc). Cows that come on heat in the night should be served in the morning Those that start heat in the morning should be sewed in the afternoon.After serving the cow, observe for any signs of heat 19 to 21 days later to see whether the cow comes on heat again. This is the period the cow takes to come in heat again if it did not conceive or was not served (Oestrous Cyclc



Artificial insemination or natural service?

Zero grazing dairy farmers are usually constrained by inadequate land and cannot afford to keep a bull on the farm. Besides, the bull would be redundant most of the time as there are very few cows on the farm. The f m e r , therefore, relies on either artificial insemination or a bull from outside for natural service. Artificial inseminatil everal acivantages:It uses supenor bulls whose performance has been tested and proven It enables tht t .*hich 1 likes to use It minimises UIG ~ ~ I G ~"1I U~ ~ n e r edi~czuca al It minirnises losses from use of infertile bulls It extends the working life of the bull long after it has died, spreading the genetic material over a wider area. It gbliges the farmer to improve management in anticipation of a superior but delicate offspring. However, A.1 has some limitations which need consideration when deciding which method you should use for serving your cows: A.1 requires skilled manpower for handling semen and insemination in the field. It may not be readily available in some areas very far from the A.1 centre. It may be too expensive for the rural farmers keeping less productive cows. The f m e r should be skilled in heat detection and must report to the A.1 technician who should respond in time. Because of these limitations, farmers may opt for the use of a bull instead of A.I. Sometimes the bull is used for '"cleaning up" cows that may have failed to conceive using A.1, as they can easily detect when the cow is on heat. However, the disadvantages of using the bull include:-

* Possible trans&ssion of venereal diseases which may cause infertility .You may not be sure of its genebc quality It may be dangerous to handle in presence of female You have to move the cow to the bull shed or vice-versa This may cause a risk of disease transmission to the animals.


Does A.1 produce more bullcalves than heifers? It has been repeatedly proved (even in Uganda!) that A.1 produces equal chances for male and female offsprings. The common complaint that it produces more bullcalves than heifer calves is false. The common practice is to use A.1, if available, for the 1st 3 heat cycles after calving. If it fails to conceive, a veterinarian should be called in to investigate the problem. Other farmers, however, prefer to invite a bull to avoid loss of bieeding time and milk production.

Record keeping in fertility management For efficient fertility management of the cow, it is important to keep records on important breeding. parameters. These include: Date of calving, Date of first heat after calving, when served, whether it conceived or not and expected date of calving etc. This enables you to plan properly for all the required activities at all stages. This can be best achieved by use of asbreedingCalender.

HEALTH AND DISEASE CONTROL Introduction For the zero grazing enterprise to be profitable, the farmer should ensure that the animals (cows, heifers, calves) are maintained in prime health. Diseases cause losses to the farmer through the following:Death of the animals Can reduce production of milk a ~ c ethe rate of growth of the young The costs of treatment and control reduce profits Some diseases can be transmitted to people (Zoonoses) e.g. Tuberculosis and Brucellosis. 9.2

What are the common diseases? The common diseases s under zero grazing can be grouped as follows: Calf diseases such a6 .diarrho&,"Pneumonia, worms and navel ill. Tick-borne diseases e.g. ~ a s tCoast Fever, Heartwater, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis Mastitis: inflammation of the udder causing loss in milk pro1duction Notlifiable. diseases e.g. Rinderpest, Contagious Bovine . - - - -- - Pleuropneumonia (CBPP), Foot and Mouth Disease, Trypanosomosis . Zoonotic diseases e.g. Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Tapeworms. .


Dietic diseases e.g. Milk fever, Bloat, Ketosis Others such as Foot rot, wounds etc.

Figure 2 0 A cow ivith mastitiis-the h.ind qu:arter of the udder is swollen


Control and Prevention of Diseases It is usually cheaper to prevent the occurrence of diseases rather than treating them, because you cannot be sure that the animals will recover. Even then, the animal takes long to restore production to the previous level. Therefore, the farmer should carry out strict preventive measures to ensure that the animals are healthy. They include the following: (a)

Strict hygiene By observing strict hygiene, you eliminate most of the problems of diarrhoea in calves and adult cows, as well as calf pneumonia. Ensure that the calf pen, the resting area, the feed and water troughs and all utensils used on the farm are thoroughly and regularly cleaned.


Control of ectopa D i m e transmitting vectors (ticks, tsetse flies) can be controlled by using acaricide through spraying, dipping or, more commonly on zero grazing units, by using "Pour-On" formulations. Tsetse flies can also be effectively controlled by use of tsetse traps.


Control of ectoparasites Disease transmitting vectors (ticks, tsetse flies) can be controlled by using acaricide through spraying, dipping or, more commonly on zero grazing units, by using "Pour-On" formulations. Tsetse flies can also be effectively controlled by use of tsetse traps.



d parasi m be controlled by strategic tactiical dosing of animals with dewormers every 2 to 6 months depcending on the hygiene and climatic conditions. Vac Disf ,,,:ases such as Rinueqxst, CBPP, - ,.,- and Brucellosis can be prelrented b:y regula ; directed by the Veterinarians.


Isolation and Treatment Some diseases are contagious and can easily spread h m fie sick animal to others. It is, therefore, good practice to isolate the sick animals from the rest, while treatment is being administered.


rro " per Feeding The moit powerful preventiveftreatment measure is good feeding. Well fed animals tend to resist some infections siuch as \;worms, and respond better to the treatment being administerc:d.


10. 10.1


W h y are farm records important? :ry dairy farmer should endeava~urto keep farm records if heishe is to become successful in the se. Farm records are very important because of the following rei


They enhance plannipg and decision making on farm activities based on facts They facilitate timely implementation of actions such as breeding, vaccinations, treatments, sales, etc. They give re-assurance to buyers of far:m prod1lcts as regards the quality. They enable the to carry ?itoring and evaluation of the profitabiliLr ur UAG G u L G r y l


What records should be kept?

The following types of records are very essential to the dairy farmer: (a)

Health recori

These enable UIG lm~nerto monitor the health of the herd and to ensure that certain disease preventivelcontrol measures are carried out regularly and timely. They include dates for-vaccinations, deworming, disease outbreaks zit18 treatmerits. (b)

Breeding records

These enable the farmer to monitor the fertility of the cows and to carry out corrective measures where necessary, and also to make preparations for the expected outcome such as milking and calf management. The breeding records include: Date of service and the bull, stage of pregnancy, calving, first heat after calving, etc. They also include individual cow breeding performance such as number of calvings, number of calves alive, performance of daughterslsons. (c)

Production records .

The farmer should record milk proaucuon of individual cows in terms of milk yield per day, the lactation length and the total milk yield for each lactation and, if possible, the quality of milk. (d)

Milk utilisation

This includes the milk sold, given to calves and that consumed at home (e)

Income and Expenditure

This includes the income from sale of milk on daily basis, and periodically the sale of heiferslbull calves. The expenditure is mainly on chemicalsldrugs, veterinary fees, labour, feeds, visitors and equipment. By comparing income and expenditure, the farmer is able to know whether the enterprise is profitable or not.



Advice by Extension Workers lsion workers r er profe should always rtxord the advice g ~ v LU~ nenable tht: lamer follow up the messages in implementation, and to evaluate whether they have been useful.



her recc Inventory of equipment, visitors, achievements, etc. FURTHER READING


Zero grazing series By Ministry of Agricudture and Livestock Development, Kenya. ~okson Zerb gr by Heifer Projc

I Ugand


Livestock Technical Handbook by Ministry of Agriculture, Amma lndustry and Fisheries, Uganda




Evaluation of feed resources for dairy cattle zero grazing in pnda by Dr. S


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