Knowledge for Development

Feature articles

Development of ‘ENDIISA’ decision support tool for improved feeding of dairy cattle in Uganda

Despite existing knowledge and, in some instances, the appropriate use of feed resources, milk production on dairy farms has remained low in the ranges of 2–5 Lcow-1day-1. In her paper, Mubiru argues that this poor performance clearly points to a gap in farmers' knowledge regarding cattle feeding. Since farmers are unable to know the quantities of feeds needed to meet the nutritional requirements of their animals, they were only able to provide 59% and 36% of the required metabolisable energy and crude protein, respectively, to their animals. A mechanism was developed by which farmers could establish adequate feed quantities for their cattle, even when they are combining a variety of feeds. ‘ENDIISA' is the web-based decision support tool that was one of the major outputs of the author’s winning research submission. Read Dr Mubiru and the other papers in the booklet of abstracts of all winning papers.


Development of Endiisa Decision Support Tool for improved feeding of dairy cattle in Uganda

(First prize, ‘Women in Science’ competition)Efforts to improve livestock feeding in Uganda have had great strides in identifying nutritious feed resources for cattle. These include pasture grasses and legumes, leguminous shrubs and multipurpose trees, crop residues and agro-industrial by-products. Despite knowledge and the use of appropriate feed resources, milk production of dairy farms has remained low (2 to 5 L per cow per day). The poor performance indicates a gap in dissemination of knowledge to farmers. One major gap identified was that farmers did not know the quantities of feed that would adequately meet the nutritional requirements of their animals. This study demonstrates the use of decision-support tools (DST) in meeting such challenges. It provides information on low status of dairy cattle feeding. In conclusion, the DST that was developed and tested led to improved cattle feeding and increased milk production by 24%. The tool is available on the website of the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO-Uganda), and is recommended for use by farmers, researchers, trainers and policy-makers.Article taken from the 2011 CTA/FARA publication ‘Agricultural Innovations for Sustainable Development’ Volume 3, Issue 2.


Science and Technology for Livestock Value Chain Development: A Focus on Artificial Insemination

Population growth, urbanization, and income growth in developing countries are fuelling a global increase in demand for food of animal origin. The resulting demand comes from changes in diets of billions of people and provides income growth opportunities for many of the rural poor. Over the last 20 years, meat consumption in developing countries has increased three times as fast as in developed countries. In order to benefit from the demand, farmers in developing countries should adapt to the new environment, which demands dissemination of technologies and changes of production systems to eliminate low productivity. This article by P. H. Bayemi provides a detailed overview of artificial insemination practices in Cameroon.


Utilising indigenous breeds: Improving the reproductive potential of smallholder dairy herds (synthesis)

This study provides data and analysis on the two most important factors influencing reproductive rate in cattle – nutrition and breed type – in the context of smallholder dairy herds in Africa. Paterson’s report is an assessment of the options available to small farmers. It provides an overview of pertinent and published research, and also specific insight into the efforts scientists from ILRI and national research centres are making in South Africa, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Kenya. The focus is on enhancing the earning potential of the smallholder dairy farmers. Regarding animal nutrition, profits rise with the use of indigenous products and losses come from using imported feed. It is therefore important to maximise the use of existing arable land, crop residue, leguminous forage, low quality roughages and protein supplements. To provide milk off-season – which sells at a higher price – farmers must develop a viable all year round feeding strategy and plan for quality crop residues when and where possible. Low productivity from tropical feedstuffs may well ask for the supplementation of high bypass proteins to balance the protein-to- energy ratio in these feeds, an exacting but necessary option for smallholders who’d like to sell milk all year.Dairy genetics is also crucial to the success of the smaller dairy businesses. The evolution of cows on the continent resulted in a relatively small animal adapted to hot climate and nutritional stress. The local African breeds require an infusion of dairy genetics to improve their milking potential: this has been successfully achieved through artificial insemination (AI) in many countries, and recently AI was combined with synchronisation of oestrus (sexual receptivity) in Ethiopia. Introducing genes associated with milk productivity could produce animals unadapted to the environmental constraints. Nevertheless the introduction of desirable milk genetics through the smaller New Zealand Jersey breed (which produces milk off grass) appears to be a better choice than the Holstein (which produces excessive quantities of milk off concentrate). A key recommendation for further consideration is the use of semen from Jersey crosses rather than from the Holsteins standing at the AI stations. However, there is still a need for specific studies on genotype x nutrition x disease interactions when developing new cattle breeds for the continent. There is high demand for milk and meeting this demand will require the use locally adapted dairy cattle breeds and a well thought-out feeding strategy. Also necessary is a dedicated scientific community, effective extension support systems, an enabling policy environment and smallholder farmers who have the required entrepreneurial spirit.  Read the synthesis report below and find the article here.


Utilising indigenous breeds: Improving the reproductive potential of smallholder dairy herds (article)

There is need to improve the reproductive potential of dairy cattle owned by small-holder farmers as well as enhance earning potential. According to Paterson, the challenge for improving small-holder dairy production under communal systems is clear; introduce dairy genetics and supply the quantity and quality of feed to improve reproductive and yield potential. The norm for smallholder livestock herders in Africa is that the stocking density on the grassland reaches a level 300% higher than that of commercial farmers. At this high stocking rate, a balance is reached at which the number of calves born equals the mortality rate plus an off-take of 7%. The conception rate is about 30% and only 1-2% is marketed for cash. In contrast, the annual conception rate for commercial farmers is 90% and the off-take is 30% or higher, all of which is marketed. Using artificial insemination (AI) under a communal and free grazing system is expensive. In Ethiopia, a large trial is in progress using synchronisation of oestrus to bring many of the smallholder cows together to be inseminated by a team led by a veterinarian, making it economically feasible to inseminate 200 cows on one day. The choice of breeds is also critical. The indigenous cattle, e.g. the East African Zebu, are not milking breeds (such as Holstein and Jersey). They are small, weigh on average 300 kg at maturity and produce 6 litres of milk per day; 4 litres for the calf, and the rest for home consumption or sale. This small cow with low milk production and maintenance requirements, is a result of natural selection, which ensures its survival, especially under adverse conditions. The Holstein produces more milk but requires a maize based diet while, the Jersey produces less milk and on grassland. Patterson believes that the Jersey is the ideal breed to crossbreed with indigenous cattle in Africa as the purebred dairy cattle are unlikely to survive under communal systems. Given the high demand for milk, meeting this demand will require the use of locally adapted dairy cattle breeds and a well thought-out feeding strategy. Also necessary is a dedicated scientific community, effective extension support systems, an enabling policy environment and smallholder farmers who have the required entrepreneurial spirit.Read the article below and find the synthesis report here.


Technology options for small-scale processing of milk, yoghurt and cheese

Cultured milks, yoghurt and soft cheeses have been produced for thousands of years in some ACP countries, especially among African nomadic herding communities to preserve milk for home consumption and food security. Only recently has commercial dairy processing begun to produce pasteurised milk and hard cheeses arisen in ACP countries, as local demand increased. A lack of reliable ‘cold chains’ for transporting, storing and selling dairy products and a relatively high incidence of lactose intolerance in some populations limit expansion. Feasibility studies can be used to guide investment decisions of prospective dairy processors before making any investment decisions. Image: Peter Fellows, Midway Associates, Derby, UK. Hand-operated cream separator.