by Jelly Chang’a, Tanzania, ELP 2015
Written on July 17, 2015.
In Tanzania, smallholder dairying is recognized as an important instrument of social economic improvement. The industry increases milk production and empowers women and youth in income generation. Despite the important role of the industry, farmers have continued to experience sub-optimal performance of their animals.
The future of small-scale dairy production depends, among other things, on the successful raising of calves and heifers for replacement. Important aspects in the calf rearing are health management and calves’ nutrition. Poor calf rearing practices, including underfeeding, have shown to result in high mortalities and poor growth rates. The overall effect is a lack of potential replacement heifers leading to low rate of herd growth and improvement. In Tanzania, calves, unfortunately, tend to be a neglected animal category on many small-scale dairy farms. Many of the smallholder dairy farms are smallholdings where farmers often lack the resources to develop the most effective rearing systems for young stock. Instead, their attention is primarily directed towards milk production, emphasizing feeding and managing their milking cows. Young stocks may receive insufficient attention because they do not generate income for many months. The use of farm-grown legume forages and home garden fodders can both satisfy the nutritional needs of the calves and also reduce calf-feeding cost. This is particularly relevant for resource-poor farmers. Fodder shrubs can also provide a range of other services, including soil conservation.
My passion is to provide training to smallholder farmers to manage their animals more effectively using low cost ingredients and establishing home garden fodders so as to achieve high productivity.