INVESTIGATION OF THE MAIN CAUSES OF REDUCTION IN MILK YIELDS BY ZERO GRAZED SMALL HOLDER DAIRY CATTLE IN NDUMBUINI, KIAMBU COUNTY.

ABSTRACT

 

Small holder dairy farmers may experience unexpected drop in milk yield during the lactation period of their cows. Such cases may be due to subclinical mastitis or any other factors. Since subclinical mastitis does not show visible clinical signs, farmers may fail to notice the occurrence of the condition. Therefore, the prevalence of the condition may not be well documented in the various dairy farms in Kenya and in particular the small holder farms. This study was undertaken to investigate this problem in Ndumbuini, Kiambucounty.

Ten lactating dairy cows from five households in Ndumbuini area were selected for the study. This was done through the use of a semi-structured questionnaire and interviews of the farmers. Daily milk yield for each cow was monitored regularly by checking the records kept by the farmers. Any sudden drops in the yield were noted, and their causes identified. This was done through examination of the animal, housing, stage of oestral cycle, condition of the udder and quality of the milk being produced. Further tests included CMT, which helped identify the presence of mastitis. In cases where no other clinical signs were observed and the CMT results were positive, subclinical mastitis was suspected to be the cause.Subsequently, remedial measures were advised to the farmers to try and rectify the conditions causing the drop in milk yield.

A total of twenty two significant cases of drop in milk yield were noted from the five households. Cows that were deemed to be having sub-clinical mastitis were eight in number. Three similar cases that, however, had negative (trace) results after carrying out CMT were deemed to be due to management factors e.g poor nutrition or poor housing.Other cases of sudden drop in milk yield had obvious clinical signs and therefore the cause of the drop could be easily picked out e.g clinical mastitis, pneumonia and diarrhoea. TwoFresian cows from a single household were producing very low milk. This was because their lactation period had gone beyond one and a half years.

Subclinical mastitis was found to be a major cause of sudden drop in milk yield. Flactuations in milk yield were also caused by the fluctuations in the amount of feed given to the cows during the lactation period. It was also noted that cows milked for a very long period of time ended up producing very little amount of milk. Monitoring of daily milk yields by the farmers through record keeping was found to be of great importance. This is because any deviations can be easily noted and dealt with promptly before they cause further financial losses.   

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