Getting the best from dairy farming

Douglas Onenchan tends to Friesian cattle at Buloba Dairy Farm. PHOTO BY Edgar R Batte

What you need to know:

  • It is important to understand that dairy farming is a business.
  • Douglas Onenchan a farm manager at Buloba Dairy Farm reveals what you need to know to get the most out of dairy farming, writes Edgar R. Batte

Management is nothing more than motivating other people.
Douglas Onenchan knows this and practices it. Every evening, as his juniors walk home, each holds, in their hands, a litre of milk.
That and Shs3,000 constitutes their daily allowance. Each farm worker takes home a salary of Shs120,000 at the end of every month. Onenchan is paid a salary of Shs720,000. He is a farm manager of Buloba Dairy Farm. He supervises six workers. Of these, one maintains the farm fence, two weed the paddocks and three are employed to milk the cows.

The farm is an expanse of 48 acres on which some 60 Friesian cattle are bred. At the moment, 16 cows are milked. On average, each of the cows produces 11.5 litres of milk. In total the 16 cows produce 184 litres of milk. A litre of milk fetches Shs1, 100. If all the milk is to be sold, the farm would make Shs202,400 per day, Shs1,416,800 per week, approximately Shs5.6m per month and about Shs68m per year. Buloba Dairy Farm sells 100 litres to Country Oven Resort, a nearby local retailer in Buloba town. The rest of the milk is bought by other retailers, some of them mobile domestic traders who sell in stainless steel cans.

“A cow is milked for 306 days and leave it to rest for about two months within which it builds its body potential in order to give it more milk,” Onenchan, a para-veterinary doctor, explains. The cattle are milked using hands and caution is exercised. Before milking, all workers have to wash their hands clean with soap. The cows’ tits are then applied with salves in order to smoothen them to avoid cracking.

When cows are milked without smoothening, they may develop mastitis, a condition that leads to inflammation of the cows’ udder. “Ninety per cent of diseases are caused by ticks. Farmers are advised to spray their cattle to kill and keep ticks away. I use Acaracides which contains protecid and sapona, which cost me Shs120, 000 and Shs140, 000 respectively, per litre,” he explains. He mixes 40 millilitres per 20 litres of waters. He also vaccinates annually, against foot and mouth disease at Shs460, 000, lumpy skin at Shs180, 000, East Coast Fever (ECS) at Shs1.2m and rabies at Shs220, 000.

Onenchan deworms the cattle every three months, alternating oral and injectable dewormers. For oral, he uses Puse Albafas which costs Shs17, 000 a litre. For injectable dewormers, he uses Ivermectin at Shs15, 000 per 40 millilitres. He buys the vaccines from two shops, Eram Vets and Global Vets and Bassar, both at Container Village, downtown Kampala.

Feeding cattle
The pastures on which the cattle feed are called brachiaria, mixed with legume to achieve green leaf desmodium. “It is a type from Kenya. It is not easily affected by drought. It can withstand heat so during the dry spells, the cattle still have what to feed,” To supplement their diet, the cattle are fed on a combination of maize bran, wheat bran, cotton seed cakes, salt, dairy premix and yeast.

Selling cattle
Visitors to the farm express interest to buy some of the Friesians. Each of cattle attracts a price of between Shs3.5m and Shs4m.

He tips those doing dairy farming or those planning to do it to always be keen on book-keeping so as to straighten out the running of their business.


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