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Effect of feeding oat and vetch forages on milk production and quality in smallholder dairy farms in Central Kenya


Despite the significant livestock contribution to households’ nutrition and incomes in many African smallholder farms, milk productivity remains low. Inadequate feeding is the main reason for the underperformance. To contribute towards addressing this, an on-farm feeding trial was undertaken in Ol-joro-Orok Central Kenya. A feed basket using oat (Avena sativa) cv Conway and vetch (Vicia villosa) was compared to farmers practice. Milk production (kg) and quality parameters, including butterfat, protein, lactose, and density, were monitored, and cost-benefit analysis (CBA) undertaken. Feeding both oat and vetch increased milk production by 21% (morning) and 18%, (evening), equivalent to 1.4 kg/day. Increases (%) in quality were butter fat (18.2), solid-non-fat (16.5), lactose (16.2), and protein (16.1). Concomitantly, the CBA returned positive results, supporting the hypothesis of economic advantage in using oat and vetch in milk production in the area, and possibly in other similar areas.

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We sincerely thank the farmers who allowed data collection from their animals and responded to interviews. Gratitude to Mr. B.M. Kimani from the Ministry of Agriculture who assisted with daily data collection. Eldoville Dairies staff, especially Mr. Andrew Waithaka who facilitated oat and vetch growing, Mr. Mutembei who supervised the forage fields, and Mr. Julius Njuguna who measured the milk quality. Lastly, we thank the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) for financing the study.

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Correspondence to Solomon W. Mwendia.

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Farmers gave informed consent to data collection from their farms and animals.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Mwendia, S.W., Mwungu, C.M., Ng’ang’a, S.K. et al. Effect of feeding oat and vetch forages on milk production and quality in smallholder dairy farms in Central Kenya. Trop Anim Health Prod 50, 1051–1057 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-018-1529-3

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  • Forage
  • Milk production
  • Cost-benefit