Gladys Boss Shollei, the former Chief Registrar at the Judiciary and the current Uasin Gishu Woman Rep has taken dairy farming by storm.
At her farm which is situated at Plateau in Uasin Gishu County, Ms. Shollei keeps hundreds of pedigree cattle, which include Friesian, Holsteins, Guernsey and Brown Swiss.
The dairy cows at her farm are are housed in well constructed structures that put into account their well-being. “We treat our cows with tender care because that goes a long way in boosting milk production. You see when cows are stressed their milk levels dip, so they have to be fed well and kept in comfortable and clean structures,” she says.
The dairy cows are grouped in cubicles ranging from the youngest calf to the expectant cow. This way, she is able to monitor the lactation and feeding cycle. “Most farmers group their herds and fail to remember that it is ideal for them to be in cubicles. There is a consistent programme strictly monitored from a three-day old calf calving to the next cycle,” she says.
The cubicles can host more than two calves isolated from the parent mother three days after giving birth. “The reason we put them separately is to ensure the calves get constant attention and not get used to the mother. But at the same time, it is important for the young calf to suckle so that they get enough colostrum from its mother at that tender age. This is important to boost the animal’s immunity,” says Gladys Boss Shollei.
The farm has installed a synchronised mobile application to assist in checking on the feeding and milk production programme of every cow. This app particularly comes in handy because she is able to monitor the animals without having to be there physically.
She has also employed professionals to help manage the dairy farm. To begin with, Winnie Chebii, an animal health officer, oversees management of the dairy unit. To start the calves on a healthy note, after one week, they are introduced to dairy meal and when they reach one month they are fed on grass in small portions. “We give them Boma Rhodes and Kikuyu grass which we have planted on the farm,” says Chebii.
After another 18 months of feeding, the heifers are prepared for insemination through artificial process. The bulls are then sold for beef in the markets. “Before we serve them, we have to consider the genealogy and body condition because it helps on what kind of results we desire to achieve in the next calving,” she says. Two months to delivery, the heifers are also put under a critical steaming process to improve milk production.
Steaming is the period in the third trimester when cows are fed on increased ratios mostly in the last month of pregnancy. During this period he says, highly digestible food is given in readiness for heightened energy requirements and improved production.