Dairy Cattle


Dairy farming is a long-term milk production activity, from which milk may be either processed on-site or transported to a dairy factory for processing and eventual retail sale.Most dairy farms sell the male calves born by their cows, usually for veal production, or breeding depending on quality of the bull calf, rather than raising non-milk-producing stock. Many dairy farms also grow their own feed, typically including corn, and hay. This is fed directly to the cows, or is stored as silage for use during the winter season. Dairy farming has been part of agriculture for thousands of years. In Kenya, dairy farming is mostly done is small scale by thousands of farmers.


Breeds Dairy breeds include: Freshian cattle, Jersey cattle, Guernsey cattle, Aryshires, Borans  and Sahiwals
Brooding A heifer should be ready for service by 18 months if grown well. Heifers can be served even earlier if they have reached puberty and are in the right body weight. The right serving weight for heifers are as follows: -Friesians – 300kg LW, Aryshires – 280kg LW, Guernsey – 240KG LW, Jerseys – 230kg LW, sahiwals – 240kg LW, Boran – 230kg LWThe animal will show some or all of these signs when in heat; Restlessness, Mounting on other cows or standing still while being mounted by other cows, Drop in milk yield, Bellowing, Dilated and enlarged vulva. The heat period lasts from 6 to 30 hours. The animal should be served six hours after first heat sign to obtain good results. For most cows, time between one heat and the next is 21 days on average. For mature cows, the first heat may be 38th to 42nd day after calving. Unless management is very good it is not advisable to serve the cow on this heat, as it has not regained body condition. However, it may be served on the second heat, which may be 60 to 90 days after calving. The farmer should aim at his/her animal calving once in every 12 months.

Livestock production officers or other credible vet practitioners should be consulted if breed selection is a problem.

Calf rearing Proper calf rearing is the insurance for continuous dairy farming. Good management ensures a continuous replacement of spent stock with young and energetic stock. This is mainly by reducing calf mortality rate and cutting calving interval. The following precautions should be taken on newly born calf. Check and clean mucus membranes on the nostrils of the new born calf if not already licked. Tie and cut the naval cord and disinfect with the iodine solution. Examine for abnormalities and if present alert a veterinary doctor Ensure that the newborn calf gets the first milk from its mother for at least 4 days.
Feeds and feeding Forage: Mainly green forage is preferred. All forage should be copped and fed in troughs to avoid wastage.Farm products: These include wheat straw, maize stalks and vegetables. They should be soaked in water before feeding. A quantity of 40-70kg per day is preferred per animal in a day.Concentrates: These include dairy cubes, dairy meals, maize germ and bran. Animals should be feed with concentrates while milking. The quantity can be 2kg per day per cow.

Minerals are fed to milking cows. These include salts. The quantity should be 80-100gm per cow per day.

Husbandry Care must be taken in rearing dairy cows. Unlike the beef cattle, dairy cows are vulnerable to pest and diseases. High level of consultancy with veterinarians is needed.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Calf Scours  Loss of appetiteRise in temperatureDejectedness


Reduce or completely withdraw milk for two to three days.
Calf Pneumonia Watery discharge from nose and eyes. Shallow and rapid breathing. Calf coughs and will not eat House all calves for the first 6 weeks if in cold areas.Call veterinary help when it occurs.
Etoparasites (ticks, fleas, lice) Parasite manifestation in the skin. Regular dipping or spraying with approved and effective acaricides and insecticides.
 Equipments While milking; Use seamless aluminum or stainless steel cans for milking and storing milk. Plastic container is difficult to clean.Clean utensils immediately after milking or after emptying milk: rinse with cold water, scrub with a brush using hot water with detergent then rinse with cold water. Place upside down on a rack and dry in the sun. Store utensils in a safe, clean and well ventilated room.
Housing When considering housing for dairy cows, the following factors need to be considered:

Convenience of feeding: Feeding from outside the house is desirable as it Minimizes stress and risk of injuries.

Cleanliness of the sleeping area: It should be easy to remove bedding or clean the sleeping area. Cemented floors are preferred.

Convenience of moving and restraining animals

Grazing systems Field grazing: Animals feed freely on growing pasture in a designated area usually in paddocks.Zero grazing: Zero grazing means growing or acquiring high quality feeds and feeding animals inside a confining structure. This is good for small herds in small farms
 Regions Central Kenya, Rift Valley
Expected yields  An average cow will produce 30kg of milk in a day. However, breeds like freshian will produce upto  50-70kg. Milk production depends on animal husbandry and the breed.


Processing Milk processing is done depending on the products to be produced. Before processing, milk is just transported and refrigerated to avoid spoilage. To add to its shelf life. Milk need to be processed.


Place Milk is marketed Locally for subsistence use and also for further processing. Internationally, milk is sold as processed milk.
Price The price of a liter of milk at farm gate is Kshs 20-30. Processed milk is retailing at Kshs 40 per half a liter.


Products / Uses Milk is processed to products such as; Cream, Skimmed Milk, Cheese, Whole Milk, Butter, Yoghurt, Powder milk.
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values Total fat 27g 415, saturated fat 17g 855, polysaturated fat 0.7%, monosaturated fat 9g, cholestoral 72mg 24%, sodium 1696mg 70%, potassium 97mg 2%, carbohydrates 3.4g 1%, sugar 0.9g, protein 38g 76%, vitaminA 17%, calcium 125%, vitaminD 5%, vitaminB12 23%, iron 4%, vitaminB6 5%, magnesium 12%


Dairy cows can produce 125 lbs of saliva a day.The natural yellow color of butter comes mainly from the bets-carotene found in the grass cows eat.The average cow drinks from 30-50 gallons of water each day – about a bathtub’s worth.

It takes 7 kgs of whole milk to make one gallon of ice cream.

Cows only have teeth on the bottom jaw.

A cow chews her cud for up to 8 hours each day.

The oldest cow ever recorded was a cow named “Big Bertha”, she died 3 months short of her 49th birthday on New Year’s Eve, 1993.  She also holds the record for lifetime breeding as she produced 39 calves.


A cow produces 10000kgs of milk per year. A cow feeds on bail of hay and 100mg of salts a day.Income: 10,000*30 = Kshs 300,000Expense: 400 bails*200/- = Ksh. 80,000 + Misc 40,000 = Kshs 120,000

Net Profit: Kshs 180,000


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