Vital tips from urban dairy farmer’s success

for the rest of the month and year and tell mAs we drive on the dirt road off Kiminini shopping centre, in Trans Nzoia County, nothing prepares us for the urban farm and the animals we are about to see. We branch off through a small maize plantation and onto a narrower road passing by a mud-walled building before reaching an imposing gate.
Nothing spectacular greets you as you enter the farm.
However, as you walk further in, you start to understand what it is all about. It is a clean dairy farm with spectacular animals. This is Mr John Mburu’s farm. “Mr Mburu’s cows are really beautiful.
Looking at them brings you peace. They are therapeutic,” says a visitor, Mr Paul Moiben. He has brought his wife to see the cows and to also get some training. “Mburu is such an inspiration.
If we could get 10 more people like him, dairy farming would not be the same in this country,” says the farmer-cum-transporter.
Located on one acre, Sprout Dairies Farm is one of a kind in this area and the country. There is hardly any odour or flies in this enclosure that houses 80 dairy cows, including calves and heifers; a home, training hall, and stores.
The small dairy farm has a loose housing system with fine, dry sawdust mixed with cow manure. This is surprising because I have always thought that manure must be cleared out of the sleeping sheds. But the cows appear comfortable, clean and robust.
The sawdust serves as a powerful sink for the nitrogen, a big source of odour. This bedding system, I get to learn is one of the latest and is beginning to catch . It is known as compost bedded pack barns. (We shall tell you more about it in our coming editions).
The barns, which carry a couple of animals at a time, provide shelter from adverse weather, a comfortable lying area that allows them to sleep and turn as they wish, and access to the food and water in feed alleys and waterers.

There are barns for incalf, those in lactation, dry herd, and calves of different ages. The cows are mostly Ayrshires with brown and white coats and Holstein Fresians with black and white. Others are more white with large black spots or pure brown.
The Ayrshires are strong and robust, showing constitution and vigour, symmetry, style and balance throughout, and are characterised by strongly attached, evenly balanced, well-shaped udders.
The Holsteins have rugged feminine qualities and possess size and vigour, being large, straight, well-boned, and havingstyle.
The farm produces an average of 900 litres of milk daily, with the daily average production of 25 litres per cow. A good number of the animals produce 35 litres, while others yield 40 litres and more. One cow produces 49 litres.
According to Mr Mburu, none of the animals weighs less than 500 kilos. He earns well over Sh1 million gross in returns from his 37 cows, and comfortably pays his eight employees and takes home a handsome return. The workers are always up by 3am to do the first round of milking.
The second is at 1pm and the last at 6pm daily.

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