- Nyaga does not only use cow dung to generate biogas, the waste from chicken too ends up in the bio-digester and the resultant energy is used mainly for cooking at home.
- He also makes his own dairy meal as trained by officials from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation in Naivasha in 2014.
- The chicken waste is also used to feed the dairy animals after it is dried in the sun to remove excess moisture and sieved to extract foreign material.
- Generating his own biogas saves him at least Sh10,000 a month, which he would have used on electricity bills, cooking gas and buying of fertiliser as he uses the mixture from the bio-digester to grow crops.
About 11km from Kutus town along the Kutus-Kimunye Road adjacent to Githage Primary School sits Daipo Farm on two acres.
The farm hosts 12 cows (six that are lactating and the rest are heifers), 600 chickens (350 which are layers), a 12 cubic metres biogas plant and various fodder crops.
Sammy Nyaga, a 62-year-old retired agriculture teacher, is busy mixing cow dung and water in the ratio of 1:1, and, thereafter, adds the slurry in the bio-digester.
“I add over 100 litres of slurry into the system every day for continuous biogas production,” Nyaga explains.
What he does with the waste his animals generate is what has made all the difference in his agribusiness.
Nyaga, however, does not only use cow dung to generate biogas, the waste from chicken too ends up in the bio-digester and the resultant energy is used mainly for cooking at home.
“I use the biogas for cooking in my house and warming water to clean the cowshed and cow towels, saving me a huge sum of money that I would have spent on fuel,” says Nyaga, who started farming in 2008 with his wife Shelmith soon after retiring and installed the biogas system in 2012.
Ending up with the right quantity and quality of cow dung, according to Nyaga, which in turn generates the fuel all depends on how one feeds the animals.
“Cows must be fed the right quantity and quality of feeds for them to produce good cow dung, and in turn milk. I feed my cows mainly on silage that I make from fodder maize and ensile to last my animals for up to six months.”
He feeds his dairy animals three times a day after every milking, that is, at 5am, 12pm and at 6pm.
Every cow is fed on 10kg of silage, 5kg of green matter and 2kg of concentrates enabling him to get 150 litres of milk that he sells to Kirima co-operative where he is a member at Sh36.
HIGH MOISTURE CONTENT ENCOURAGE WRONG FERMENTATION
Other fodders he grows, which complement silage, are napier grass, lucerne, calliandra, desmodium, sweet potato vines and mulberry.
“To make the silage. I start by cutting the maize at the dough stage, then wilt it to remove any extra moisture. High moisture content will encourage the wrong fermentation producing poor quality silage.”
“I normally test the moisture content in the chopped fodder by squeezing a handful and if water oozes out, I know it has a high moisture content,” he adds.
Thereafter, he pours on the chopped fodder some Beneficial Macro-Organisms (BM). These are bacterium that help in fermentation and are sold in agrochemical shops.
About 200ml of BM is diluted in five litres of water and sprinkled on the fodder to hasten the fermentation process by producing lactic acid while at the same time preserve the material.
When ensiling napier grass, which is low in sugar content, Nyaga further adds some maize germ that is rich in sugar and some soya bean cake that helps in improving the nutrition value as it is high in protein content.