Call to dairy farmers: It makes sense feeding maize to dairy cows

Call to dairy farmers: It makes sense feeding maize to dairy cows

One of the most difficult part of my job training farmers has been convincing them to 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 cooperative (Mworoga-Imenti south, Meru county), a farmer asked if it makes any sense to cut feed maize to cows espcecially because we have been advocating for farmers to plant as much maize as possible, and then chop it off at the right stage and conserve it for cows as silage. 

So how much 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 tape. Cows will eat 2-3% of their body weight as forage dry matter. Good maize silage is about one-third dry matter, so 2% x 3 is 6% of their body weight each day. For example, a 500 kg cow could eat up to 30 kg of wet silage a day. This would occur when the cow is in peak production about 60 days after calving.

And here is the catch:

  • Assume you feed 30 kilos of silage to a cow a day and your cost of producing one Kilo from above estimate is Ksh 5
  • You daily cost of feeding per cow is Ksh 150, plus 3kg concentrate @ Ksh 75 bringing the total to Ksh 225
  • Assume your cow produces average of 18 liters of milk a day. In Meru, most cooperatives pay Ksh 37 for a liter of milk. Daily Income from one cow is Ksh 666. 
  • Your daily income without the other costs from ONE cow is Ksh 441 and monthly Ksh 13,230