In Summary
  • The variety takes between three and five months to be ready.
  • The farmer’s 20 cows are a mixture of Friesian and Guernsey.
  • To make the feeds, he harvests the maize then first dries before shelling it using a machine and grinds.
  • Like the white maize, corn takes five months to mature although some varieties take three months.

Hundreds of flowered maize crop form a resplendent pattern on Julius Kitur’s farm in Kamagut village, in Uasin Gishu.

Undeterred by a drizzle, we find him on the maize farm with his workers harvesting the crops.

Not far from the farm at a cowshed is a machine he calls a ten-horse power, which a worker is using to chop the harvested crops into tiny pieces for the cows.

Kitur and his four workers, one who is ferrying the produce to the machine, work hard to keep up with the gadget’s pace.

Looking at him, one wonders why he is harvesting the maize crop, which seemingly did well and feeding it to animals
But this is not the usual green maize, the farmer grows the yellow corn variety specifically for fodder bringing his cost of production down and getting more milk as the crop is more nutritious.

“I grow it for my 20 dairy cows. The fodder sits on 52 acres currently and I harvest both the cobs and the plants for feeds,” says Kitur, adding last season he harvested 370 bags and used the whole of it to make animal feeds.

The farmer charted the new path two years ago after finding the cost of dairy meal high. A 50kg bag currently goes for an average of Sh2,000.

“I started by growing the crop on five acres, then moved to 12 after realising my business was not profitable since the feeds was expensive,” he says, adding a friend introduced him to the crop and offered him 50kg seeds to start with.

Since then, Kitur has never looked back as he makes his own dairy meal from the yellow maize.

He also grinds the maize stalks then mixes 2kg of flour with the 50kg of the grounded matter. The stalks acts as roughage. On average, a single cow consumes 5kg of the feeds a day.

“With the yellow maize, I don’t need to mix with other rations like cotton seed cake, which are expensive. This a wholesome feed because it contains all the ingredients. The cows like it especially when it is dry,” says Kitur, adding he also offers his cows mineral salt and sometimes hay.

The farmer’s 20 cows are a mixture of Friesian and Guernsey.

Kitur prepares feed for his dairy cattle in his Kamagut farm.

Kitur prepares feed for his dairy cattle in his Kamagut farm. To make his animals' feeds, he harvests the yellow maize then first dries before shelling it using a machine and grinds. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

From six lactating cows, he milks between 80 and 100 litres a day, selling the produce to traders at Sh45 a litre.

Kitur says he has recorded up to 50 per cent increase in milk production since he started feeding his cows the produce.

GOVERNMENT SHOULD SUPPORT FARMERS

“Some of my cows used to produce on average 15 litres but now offer between 25-30 litres since I started feeding them the yellow maize fodder,” says the farmer, who also keeps 50 dairy goats and poultry.

He uses the yellow maize to make feeds for his goats and 300 chickens.

“For chicken, I don’t offer them the stalks but I ensure I add in their feeds some calcium.”

To make the feeds, he harvests the maize then first dries before shelling it using a machine and grinds.

Three months ago, dairy farmers went through tough times as most parts of the country experienced harsh weather conditions resulting to high cost of feeds.

But Kitur was not one of them as he had more than enough feeds for his herd.

“I had stocked feeds to last me a year but this season, I expect to have more harvest to last me for the next two to three years,” says Kitur.

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