About animal husbandry
Animal husbandry defines the practices a farmer employs to raise his/her animals for productive and profitable farming.
Profitable livestock enterprise will depend on good genetics (30%) and good management 70%. These includes;
Product harvesting, storage and marketing
Feeding animals requires both quality and quantity. Any compromise of the two will result to poor performance.
Housing provides security and comfort to the animal. Different animal species have different housing requirements while the age of the animal will require different housing. Example, for a mature cattle, housing will be of paramount importance for security against theft and predators while a calf will require these plus protection from adverse weather such as draught and rain.
Disease control at farm level involves the practices that are employed to keep off diseases ensuring animals remain healthy. These includes practices like bio-security, parasite control, vaccinations, etc.
Dairy farming tips
As mentioned, result/performance will be determined by genetics (30%) and management (70%).
Dairy cow rearing starts at day 220 of the mother’s pregnancy. This is where a pregnant cow 60 days before calving is taken care well to achieve proper calving and health of both the mother and the calf in a practice called steaming up. Much details will be covered later.
When the cow nears calving down it should be moved to a maternity pen. This environment needs to be sterilized using a disinfectant when the cow shows labour signs. If this is not done, the risk of the calf’s umbilical cord and the navel getting contaminated are high and this can lead to navel ill. Once the labour starts, the cow is observed. If there is any difficulty in calving the cow is assisted.
The cow is allowed to lick the cow and suckling should take place within 4 hours after birth. This is because the cow’s colostrum contains lobules which contain maternal antibodies that will provide immunity to the calves while-as the calf’s gut remains permeable only within 4 hours after birth.
From here, the calf is fed milk only for 5 days. From day six, in addition to milk feeding, a handful of calf early weaner meal is kept in a trough kept within the reach of the calf. Soft roughages such as sweet potato vines are also provided. Clean drinking water is also provided.
NB: the container used to give water must not be the same one used for feeding milk. Within early days, the calf will only lick this and develop eating habits slowly. Fresh supply is placed daily while the leftovers are fed to the older calves or the mother.
For the first two months, the calf is fed 2 litres of milk twice a day while in the third month, the calf is fed 1 litre twice a day and weaned at the age of 3 months. Mineral licks are introduced at the age of 2 months.
Calf early weaner meal is fed upto the age of 6 months to ensure a smooth transition from milk to solid feeds.
After 6 months, high quality roughage feeding is provided composed of 50% legumes(lucerne, sweet potato vines, leucaena etc) and 50% of high quality grasses, a kilo of wheat bran and 100g of mineral licks is provided per day. With proper feeding, the heifer can be served at the age of 15 – 18 months to calve at the age of 24 – 28 months of age.
Poultry farming tips
In Kenya, there are 3 types of chicken that are reared;
Commercial layer chicken – purpose, producing table eggs.
Broilers – purpose, table birds for meat
Indigenous chicken(Kienyeji chicken) - dual purpose for meat and egg production.
Rearing Commercial layers chicken.
Chicks are sold as day old chicks from breeder farms. The farmer rears them in an artificial brooder that provides heat and food.
Heat is provided by electric chick bulbs, charcoal stoves of gas(LPG) brooders.
The brooding is done for four weeks and artificial heat withdrawn after chicks grow feathers.
A brooder consists of a chicken house.
A chicken house for brooding chicks has 3 solid walls made of either timber, mud, iron sheets or stones. The leeward side has half of the wall solid while the upper part is made of mesh wire enforced by wild bird proof chicken wire.
The door to the chicken house opens to the outside to prevent crushing the chicks when entering.
A foot bath is placed at the entrance of the house and a disinfectant added. Everyone entering the house must deep his feet for disinfection to prevent spread of diseases.
Pig farming tips
Ensure the sow is well fed, dewormed and washed with acaricide.
When pregnant, feed well, 3kg per sow per day, provide iron lick blocks at 2 month pregnancy and maintain during suckling period. 2 weeks before fallowing, increase feeding to 3.5kg/sow/day.
After farrowing, give the sow 3kg/sow per day for the sow’s maintenance and 0.25kg per piglet per day. This is for milk production per piglet.
For example, a sow with 10 piglets, you will feed it 3kg sow and weaner meal for itself and 0.25kg *10 =2.5kg for milk production. Total feed per day will be 3+2.5=5.5kg/sow per day.
2 weeks before fallowing, wash and disinfect the farrowing pen, wash the sow with acaricide.
Move the sow to the farrowing pen.
After farrowing, disinfect the piglets’ umbilical cord with a iodine.
Cut the piglets’ canine at the age of 3 days.
Iron injection is given at the age of one to 7 days.
Castrate the males not meant for breeding betweenage of 1 to 21 days.