How to feed lactating cows

When is a farmer required to give dairy meal to a lactating animal? At milking time or hours before and in what quantities? Silas
Dear Wanzala

Experiments to determine the effect of feeding before milking (FBM); feeding during milking (FDM) or feeding after milking (FAM) have been carried out by many researchers.

The results indicate that FDM does not only lead to higher milk production but also better quality due to higher yields of protein and lactose.

The research findings were attributed to secretion of the pituitary hormones oxytocin and prolactin, and the gastrointestinal hormone somatostatin when animals feed during milking.

Prolactin is a hormone for lactation while oxytocin is for milk let-down. FDM is therefore a good agricultural practice. The amount of concentrate given to a cow depends on its potential milk production.
For a cow that produces seven litres of milk per day, no concentrate supplementation is required but for every 1.5 litre increase in milk from seven litres, add one litre of concentrate.

To know the potential milk production of a cow, change the feeds by gradually adding more concentrate.

I am interested in farming pumpkins. Kindly advise on the market and the type of seeds to plant. Felix
Dear Felix
Kindly do a market survey in your locality to understand supply and demand trends. Demand for pumpkins is usually high from December to January. There are local and hybrid varieties such as Safari, Egyptian and Israel.

I have interest in growing ginger. Please advise on the varieties, planting methods and market. Robert
Dear Robert
The most common cultivar is the Jamaican. A good source of ginger for planting is fresh rhizomes from another grower. If you are buying ginger from a store, soak the rhizomes in water overnight because they are sometimes treated with a growth retardant.

Ginger is propagated from the rhizomes, which are separated into sets of 2.5cm. The sets should have eyes and should be pre-germinated before planting by covering them with moist sawdust. They are then planted on ridges which are 25-30cm apart and 15-30cm within rows.

The cultivars are planted 5-10cm deep and then watered. Shoots emerge after 10-15 days and continue for five and eight weeks.

The best soil for ginger is loose, loamy, and rich in organic matter. Loamy soils allow water to drain freely, which will help prevent the rhizomes from becoming waterlogged. Thick mulch can also provide nutrients, retain water, and help control weeds.

You cannot lack market for ginger because most households consume the crop every day.

I have a greenhouse, and I would like to start planting green pepper and French beans, but my biggest problem is market. Can I be linked to companies where I can grow the crops on contract? Giovani
Dear Giovani
It is always advisable to research on the market even before planting to minimise the chances of losses. By doing a market survey, you can identify the target buyers for green pepper.

You can you can also apply for contracts in schools when they finally open after Covid- 19. Restaurants and hospitals too may offer a good market.

For French beans, they are mainly grown for export, thus you can search online and identify an exporting company you can approach.

Why Do I Get Smaller Melons?

I am a watermelon farmer and I have struggled with this crop for long. I have planted melons three times without rotation and the last time I did, it was very promising until harvesting when size became a problem. The fruit was very small and selling was difficult. My question, is it possible that failure to rotate with any other crop may have resulted in this problem? Amos

Dear Amos
Small size of fruit may be due to lack of sufficient moisture during fruit development because this is the critical water requirement stage. You can rotate watermelons with cereals, legumes and cabbages.

I am interested in growing passion fruits on 30 acres. The biggest challenge is that I have not been able to secure seed capital for the project. Kindly advise on where I can get capital, with favourable repayment terms. Anthony
Dear Anthony
You can get capital from various lenders such as local banks and microfinance institutions.
However, you need to prepare a business plan indicating your investment, production and marketing costs, as this would help in securing the capital.

You can also opt to partner with someone who would provide capital and they become a shareholder in your project. But have a written contract or an agreement.