One of the most difficult parts of my job training farmers has been convincing them to move to more reliable fodder sources for their cows, in addition to napier grass.

Last week when I was training dairy farmers in Arithi Dairy Farmers Cooperative (Mworoga-Imenti South, Meru County), a farmer asked if it makes any sense to feed maize to cows. Under KMDP (SNV), we have been advocating to farmers to plant maize as a fodder crop for dairy animals, then harvest it at the right stage and conserve it for cows as silage, this includes both stem and the cob. To answer him and many other farmers out there who are still wondering, I have prepared a budget and simple cost benefit analysis below.

 

SILAGE PRODUCTION BUDGET:  Arithi Dairy Farmers (Mworoga-Imenti South, Meru County)
Land preparation Acres Qty Unit cost Total
Ploughing (furrow) 1 1 2,000 2,000
Harrowing 1 1 2,000 2,000
4,000
Material costs [Direct]
Certified fodder maize seeds (Kgs) 1 10 225 2,250
DAP 1 50 60 3,000
CAN 1 50 40 2,000
Stock borer pesticide 1 1 300 300
Polythene-silage 1 30 100 3,000
Molasses 1 2 900 1,800
Foliar spray (wuxal) 1 1 650 650
13,000
Labour Costs/Variable cost
Maize Planting 1 8 350 2,800
Weeding 1 8 350 2,800
Foliar application 1 350 350
Maize harvesting 1 10 500 5,000
Silage making (service providers-SPEs) 1 10 600 6,000
Silage pit preparation 1 3 600 1,800
Transport 1 1 10,000 10,000
Chopper hire 1 1 4,000 4,000
Diesel  (Running chopper) 1 1 1,000 1,000
Other-Land Rent 1 1 2,500 2,500
36,250
TOTAL 53,250
Silage (Kgs) harvested); approximately 10 tones 10,000
Cost of production for 1kg of maize silage [on-farm project] 5.3

 

 

Dairy farmers ready to conserve maize as silage for cows

So how much maize silage should you feed to a cow?

If you are going to do a good job of feeding your cow, then you should have an estimate of the cow’s weight. The easiest way to get a cow’s weight is using a weigh band. Lactating cows will eat 2-3% of their body weight as forage dry matter. Maize silage has 33% dry matter. So a cow of 500 kgs can eat 2% x 3 of its body weight in form of maize silage per day, or 30 kgs (2% of 500 = 10 kgs x 3 (33% DM/kg maize) = is 30 kgs). With a balanced ration composed of good maize silage (30 kgs) and dairy meal/concentrates (5 kgs) representing in total 15 kgs of dry matter, a cow that is well managed can produce at least 18 liters of milk per day.

And here is the catch:

  • Assume you feed 30 kilos of maize silage to a lactating cow per day at Ksh 5.3 per kilogram
  • In addition you feed 5 kilograms of dairy meal or concentrate at Ksh 25 per kilogram
  • This ration is sufficient for the cow to produce 18 litres of milk (under good management)
  • The total feeding costs for this ration is Ksh 160 (maize silage: 30 x 5.3) and Ksh 125 (dairy meal: 5 x 25), or in total Ksh 285
  • In Meru most cooperatives pay Ksh 36 for one litre of raw milk. 36 x 18 liters = Ksh 648 per day
  • Daily gross income from one cow is Ksh 648. Minus the cost of feeding income is Ksh 363/day, or per month Ksh 10,890
  • Feed costs constitute about 60-65% of total costs of a liter of raw milk produced.

Comparison between costs per kg DM of maize silage, dairy meal and hay

Maize silage

1 kg of maize silage = Ksh 5.3

1k dry matter (maize silage has approx 33% DM) = Ksh 16

Hay (1 bale 12 kg)

1 bale of hay = Ksh 300

1 kg of hay = Ksh 25

1 kg DM (hay has aprox 90% DM) = Ksh 28

Dairy Meal

1 kg dairy meal (70kg @2500) = Ksh 35

1 kg dry matter (dairy meal has aprox 88% DM) = Ksh 40