Merino Sheep

By Rufas Chege

Merino sheep is well known for wool production.

The Merino is one of the most historically relevant and economically influential breeds of sheep, much prized for its wool.

The breed originated and improved in Extremadura, in southwestern Spain, around the 12th century; it was instrumental in the economic development of 15th and 16th century Spain, which held a monopoly on its trade, and since the end of the 18th century it was further refined in New Zealand and Australia, giving rise to the modern Merino.

Today, Merinos are still regarded as having some of the finest and softest wool of any sheep.

Poll Merinos have no horns (or very small stubs, known as scurs), and horned Merino rams have long, spiral horns which grow close to the head.

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Holstein Friesians

By Rufas Chege

Holstein Friesian is shortened to Holsteins in North America, while the term Friesians is often used in the UK) are a breed of dairy cattle originating from the Dutch provinces of North Holland.

They are known as the world’s highest-production dairy animals.

The Dutch and German breeders bred and oversaw the development of the breed with the goal of obtaining animals that could best use grass, the area’s most abundant resource. Over the centuries, the result was a high-producing, black-and-white dairy cow.

With the growth of the New World, markets began to develop for milk in North America and South America, and dairy breeders turned to the Netherlands for their livestock.

After about 8,800 Friesians (black pied Germans) had been imported, disease problems in Europe led to the cessation of exports to markets abroad.

In Europe, the breed is used for milk in the north, and meat in the south. Since 1945, European national development has led to cattle breeding and dairy products becoming increasingly regionalized.

More than 80% of dairy production is north of a line joining Bordeaux and Venice, which also has more than 60% of the total cattle. This change led to the need for specialized animals for dairy (and beef) production.

Until this time, milk and beef had been produced from dual-purpose animals. The breeds, national derivatives of the Dutch Friesian, had become very different animals from those developed by breeders in the United States, who used Holsteins only for dairy production.

Breeders imported specialized dairy Holsteins from the United States to cross with the European black and whites. For this reason, in modern usage, “Holstein” is used to describe North or South American stock and its use in Europe, particularly in the North. “Friesian” denotes animals of a traditional European ancestry, bred for both dairy and beef use. Crosses between the two are described by the term “Holstein-Friesian”.

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Dairy Farming

By Rufas Chege

Dairy Farming

Dairy farming in Kenya is a fat cash cow! No pun intended, but what can you say about a business that’s estimated to be a multi-million project if managed properly.

Most farmers who have ventured into this business with high aspirations, and a relentless drive to see their goals through to the end, have recorded massive success since the demand for milk, and dairy products is always at an all time high.

It is even more profitable for those who have been able to add value to their products since they tend to call the shots when it comes to market prices.

Dairy farming in Kenya has experienced major improvements over the years as more farmers have realized the importance of looking for better ways to improve their skills and yields.

These efforts have in turn propelled the dairy industry to new heights. As part of Kenya vision 2030 or perhaps an inherent desire for success, dairy farmers in Kenya have gone out of their way, and for the most part embarked on self-starter initiatives to learn better ways of improving their production.

This self training approach has been achieved through different channels of learning, including televised farming programs, dairy farming stories in local newspapers, and online articles among other reliable sources of information.

This form of farming is currently mostly practiced by small-scale farmers in different regions of the country inducing Central, Coast, Easter, Central and Rift Valley regions, which is another good indicator that anyone is destined to make it in this industry.

These farmers account for 80% of the dairy farmers, with only 20% accounting for the large-scale farmers.

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Kales

By Rufas Chege

Kales are one of Kenya’s most demanded green vegetables especially due to their nutritional value.

The Kales business is extremely vibrant both in urban areas and rural areas. Selling Kales is very easy and offers you an opportunity to make a decent living.

Kale belongs to the brassicas family – a group of leafy vegetables that generally favor cooler climates. Kale is very easy to grow in a variety of climates but it tastes sweetest when it has just been kissed by frost.

Kales are of different varieties and these include the following.
1. Sukuma Siku Hybrid – Curled leaves, soft texture. Has good tolerance to Diamond Back Moth. Leaves have a good cooking flavor. Longer harvesting period (6-9 months).

2. Marrow stem – Dark green leaves. Prefers cool climate with moderate to fairly heavy and well-distributed rainfall.

3. Thousand headed – Smaller leaves than Collard. It is slow growing compared to other varieties. Very branching and frequently produces many heads hence requires frequent pruning. Has long harvesting period.

4. Collards southern Georgia (sukuma wild) – Drought tolerant variety that withstands high temperatures. It is a shorter variety with large, tender, bluish green leaves that spread widely. Tolerant to Soft and Black Rot.

5. Collard Mfalme Fl – A hybrid with short internodes and many leaves per internode hence more yield per unit area. It is tolerant to a wide range of diseases. Have tender Leaves.

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Beef Raring.

By Rufas Chege

Beef Farming

Beef farming in Kenya is an age-old practice that was originally left for pastoralists.

It involves breeding & raising cattle for meat. This is different from dairy farming where the cattle are reared for milk.

The big guns in the exportation of meat worldwide are Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia. European countries, as well as the US, do have a sizable beef creation amount to feed their local demand.

Beef cattle farming in Kenya is done by pastoral communities and subsistence farmers. The cattle count in Kenya is more than million. The large-scale beef farmers are found mainly in Rift Valley, Nyanza, and Eastern Kenya.

The distribution is dependent on rainfall patterns. They rear animals for commercial purposes as well as subsistence. Small scale beef farming in Kenya is however done in almost all parts of the country mainly for subsistence purposes as well as for dairy.

Types of beef cattle in Kenya
There are two main variants of beef cattle in the country. The first and most popular are the indigenous breeds like the Zebu and Boran.

The other types are exotic beef breeds. These include the Simmental, Hereford, Angus, and Charolais.The Boran is known as one of the best cows for survival in Kenya. It works well in arid areas and can translate roughage from the natural grasses into quality beef, all the while remaining resistant to diseases brought about by ticks.

Many breeders in the country love this particular breed because calving is easier and it has the ability to produce a calf every year maintaining the 365 days calving interval. Armed with the right feeding and animal care, the Boran cross-bred with one of the exotic breeds produce better weights of 300 kg.

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Sorghum Farming.

By Rufas Chege

Sorghum farming in Kenya is an important agricultural activity in the economy.

Sorghum is grown in western, northern Rift Valley, eastern and some parts of Central Province. The crop is fairly drought resistant and thus it is quite popular in drier areas of the Kenya.

Sorghum farming in Kenya

It is also resistant to water logging and yields reasonably well on infertile soils. It can be rationed.

Sorghum grains are ground for flour, which is used for making porridge, ugali or for brewing. Young growing crop may be used as fodder by feeding it to animals directly after wilting for sometime or making silage.

Ecological Requirements for Sorghum Farming in Kenya are as follows ,Sorghum has a well developed rooting system and an ability to roll up its leaves during hot weather. These qualities make the crop drought resistant.

Rainfall of 420 mm — 630 mm per annum is adequate for good growth and production, hence the crop grows well in areas below 1500 m above sea level.

At higher altitudes, poor yields are obtained and the crop is attacked by pests such as shoot fly and downy mildew disease. The crop requires fairly fertile and well drained soils.

Sorghum varieties are characterised by seed colour and taste. In this connection, there are varieties which are white in colour and palatable and those that are brown or red and are bitter. There are two notably improved varieties grown in Kenya, these are.

Dobbs
This variety was selected in western Kenya and is suitable for all the areas around the shores of Lake Victoria. Its seeds are brown and matures in about four months.

Serena
This variety was selected after crossing dobbs with a variety from Swaziland. It has brown seeds and matures in about 3% months. There are other varieties being developed by Research Stations.

The research is based on characteristics such as taste, disease and pest resistance and yields. Varieties with compact panicles and goose neck have some resistance to birds’ damage.

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Layers

By Rufas Chege

Layer Poultry Farming is a commercial egg production business, where poultry birds are raised for eggs.

Layer birds are special breeds of hens, they lay eggs till the age of 72 to 78 weeks. Layer birds start laying eggs from the age of 18 to 19 weeks.

In layer poultry farming chickens, you must raise the chicken from when they are one day old. These birds produce one kg eggs in laying period consuming 2.25 kg of feed. To produce hybrid egg layer bird, you need consider various characteristic of cock and hen before breeding.

Layer hens are categorized into two types depending on the nature and color of eggs.
White Egg Laying Hens,lay white colored eggs,smaller in Size,eat less food.

Some popular white egg laying hens are: Isa White, Lehman white, Nikchik, Bad Cock BV-300, Harvard White, Hi Sex White, Sever White, and Bovanch white.

Brown egg laying eggs these hens lay brown colored eggs.These hens have large size compared to other layered eggs.

Some popular egg breeds are: Isa Brown, Hi Sex Brown, Sever 579, Lehman Brown, Hi Line Brown, Bab Cock BV-380, Gold Line,Bablona Tetro, baboon sharks,Harvard Brown.

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Poultry Farming.

By Rufas Chege

Poultry farmers

Poultry farming in Kenya is mostly practiced small-scale, and predominantly for domestic consumption.

Poultry farming is the raising of domesticated birds such as ducks ,turkeys, chickens, and geese, for the purposes of farming meat or eggs for food.

In the advent of frequent food shortages and fluctuating prices, some farmers have embraced commercial poultry farming methods. These farmers are classified in the following categories:
Between 1 – 1000 birds: small scale farmers
Between 1001 – 10,000 birds: medium scale farmers
Above 10,000 birds: large scale farmers.

The most prevalent poultry farming method in Kenya is chicken farming, although a small number of farmers rear other types of birds. Some farmers specialise on rearing chickens for meat only (broilers), while others focus on chickens for egg production (layers).
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East Coast Fever

By Rufas Chege
ECF (East Coast Fever) is caused by protozoa
Theileria parva . They are obligate intracellular parasites that infect the host’s lyphoblasts.

East Coast Fever is spread in sub-Saharan Africa.

This disease have got the following impacts,the fatality rate for untreated ECF can be as high as 100% in cattle from non–endemic areas.

In contrast, the morbidity rate is 100% among indigenous cattle, but the mortality rate is usually low. There are about 50 million cattle at risk (with 10 million calves per annum) and the total yearly cost of the disease is estimated to be US $596 million.

ECF is transmitted by ticks, acting as biological vectors.
Theileria sporozoites are transmitted to animals through saliva of the feeding tick. Transmission can also occur via reused needles. Animals that have survived the infection tend to be carriers.

Signs

The incubation period for ECF is eight to 12 days. Pathology includes fever, enlarged lymph nodes, anorexia, laboured breathing, corneal opacity, nasal discharge, diarrhoea and anaemia.

Infected cells sometimes block capillaries in the central nervous system and cause neurological signs.

Control
In endemic areas, the tick numbers can be controlled with acaricides and other methods of tick control such as rotational grazing. Antiparasitic drugs are effective in animals with clinical signs. Vaccination against ECF is done by simultaneously injecting virulent T. parva.

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Planters

By Rufas Chege
A planter is a farm implement , usually towed behind a tractor , that sows or plants seeds in rows throughout a
field.

It is connected to the tractor with a drawbar or a three-point hitch . Planters lay the seeds down in precise manner along rows.

Planters are gaining popularity among the farmers ,though Kenyans have not yet embraced this technology.

Planters vary greatly in size, from 1 row to 54, with the biggest in the world being the 48-row John Deere DB120 . Such larger and newer planters comprise multiple
modules called row units.

The row units are spaced evenly along the planter at intervals that vary widely by crop and locale.

Various machines meter out seeds for sowing in rows. The ones that handle larger seeds tend to be called planters, whereas the ones that handle smaller seeds tend to be called seed drills, grain drills, and seeders (including precision seeders).

They all share a set of similar concepts in the ways that they work, but there is established usage in which the machines for sowing some crops including maize (corn), beans , and peas are mostly called planters, whereas those that sow cereals are drills.

On smaller and older planters, a marker extends out to the side half the width of the planter and creates a line in the field where the tractor should be centered for the next pass.

The marker is usually a single disc harrow disc on a rod on each side of the planter. On larger and more modern planters, GPS navigation and auto-steer systems for the tractor are often used, eliminating the need for the marker.

Some precision farming equipment such as Case IH AFS uses GPS/RKS and computer-controlled planter to sow seeds to precise position accurate within 2 cm. In an irregularly shaped field, the precision farming equipment will automatically hold the seed release over area already sewn when the tractor has to run overlapping pattern to avoid obstacles such as trees.

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