With sorghum, she started by only planting half an acre. She harvested 20 bags and kept some of the seeds to expand the acreage. The crop takes about five months to mature.

Alice said that water is a major challenge in dairy farming because one cow can consume up to 60 litres in a day. To take care of this, she constructed an underground tank with a capacity of 180,000 litres at a cost of Sh200,000.

She also built a hay store that can stock up to 2,000 bales. In 2017, she prepared silage from her maize crop that can last for two years and plans to make more from sorghum.

Alice is a member of the Chamgaa self-help group composed of 22 dairy farmers. In 2017, the Small-Scale Dairy Commercialisation Programme, supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) assisted the group to learn about feeds from other farmers.

They toured various dairy farms in other parts of the country like Eldoret, which motivated her to put up a zero-grazing unit and also formulate the proper feeding regime for the cows.

John Marindany, the Bomet East sub-county livestock officer, notes that getting quality feeds is a major challenge to most dairy farmers, especially during the dry spell.

“If farmers get it right, then they will cut costs by nearly half and enable them to remain competitive,” he said.

Sorghum, he added, is a highly nutritious fodder, which can significantly boost milk production. However, farmers should not to feed their cows on fresh grains.

“They are poisonous to the cows. It is important that they allow it to dry for three to four days before feeding their cows, which reduces acidity,” he advised.


Planting sorghum

Farmers should plant sorghum at a seed rate of 2.4-3.2kg per acre. The varieties should be planted at a spacing of 75 by 10cm.

Varieties meant for feed and grain (dual-purpose sorghum) require a spacing of 60 by 20cm, which allows for a higher grain-fodder ratio.

Sorghum should be sown at the onset of the rains. Drill seeds along the furrows (trenches) and plant them 3cm deep when dry planting to avoid germination during false rains but 2cm deep if the ground is wet.

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