Knowledge for Development

Related developments

New technology extends shelf life of milk in Kenya

The Kenyan Dairy Board is promoting a new milk processing technology, which preserves milk for up to a month and is helping Kenyan dairy farmers to significantly reduce losses. The Dairy Board is providing loans to farmers to enable them to take advantage of the technology and has announced plans to purchase excess milk produced from farmers. The Extended Shelf Life (ESL) technology works by applying heat indirectly and reducing the levels of lactose. ESL has enabled farmers to sell a larger quantity of milk, by avoiding spoiling due to poor storage and preservation methods. Over 3,000 farmers in Kenya are now benefitting from this pilot project which is being implemented by the Limuru Dairy Farmers' Union. To expand the project, the Union is also partnering with banks, government agencies and dairy insurance companies.(Source: African Agriculture, 17 January 2011)


Keeping dairy cows outdoors reduces their ecological footprint

New modelling work by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS, the research arm of the U.S Department of Agriculture, USDA) team, suggests that a dairy cow living year-round outdoors may leave a markedly smaller negative ecological impact than sheltered dairy cows. The team used the ‘Integrated Farm System Model’ (, a computer program that simulates the major biological and physical processes and interactions on a crop, beef, or dairy farm. The researchers found that total emissions for the greenhouse gases methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide were 8 percent lower in year-round outdoor production systems than in the high-production confinement systems. Keeping dairy cows outdoors all year lowered ammonia emissions by about 30 percent and helped reduce fuel use and the resulting carbon dioxide emissions from farm equipment. (ARS, 3/5/2011)


Kenyan farmers use fodder shrubs to increase milk production

Fodder shrubs are a kind of animal feeds, rich in protein with high contents of butter that increase milk quality and quantity. Farmers around the country are being encouraged to plant the shrubs to save on the costs of buying animal feeds to increase milk production, among other benefits. Once mature, fodder shrubs can be harvested throughout the year, providing fodder even during dry seasons. These can be planted along the farm boundaries to leave more space for the crops, along soil conservation terrace to stabilize the soil on the terraces or even around homesteads to act as a fence. The shrubs can be harvested after every 8 to 12 weeks in a year. Once harvested, each cow is fed on 6kgs fresh fodder per day for maximum production of at least 24 litres a day compared to animals fed on dairy meal which produce 15 litres a day. Fodder shrubs of both local and exotic species like calliandra, trichandra, mulberry and tree lucern are known to increase milk yields significantly.(News from Africa via New Agriculturalist, May 2011)


Omega-3 in dairy down to the antimicrobial effects of 'green odour' compounds from grass

Scientists at the BBSRC Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS, UK) discovered that the molecules that give cut grass its distinctive 'green odour' kill off bacteria that convert healthy omega-3 fats into saturated fats in a  cow's gut. Milk contains a greater proportion of the healthy omega-3 fats in the summer than in the winter due most probably to the antimicrobial effects of the green odour compound from grass.       (BBSRC, 21/08/2013)    


Milk protein from the high-producing Holstein cows source of lactose intolerance

Humans who exhibit symptoms of lactose intolerance could be unable to digest A1, a protein most often found in milk from the high-producing Holstein cows favoured by American and some European industrial dairies. The A1 protein is much less prevalent in milk from Jersey, Guernsey, and most Asian and African cow breeds, where, instead, the A2 protein predominates. The difference between A1 and A2 proteins is subtle. The A2 variety of beta-casein mutated into the A1 version several thousand years ago in some European dairy herds. Two genes code for beta-casein, so modern cows can either be purely A2, A1/A2 hybrids, or purely A1. Milk from goats and humans contains only the A2 beta-casein, yet not everyone likes the flavour of goat milk, which also contains comparatively less vitamin B-12 – a nutrient essential for creating red blood cells.  Editor’s note: Another reason to promote local breeds for dairy production? Consumer adoption of dairy products in developing countries could well be determined by the content of A2 protein.   (Mother Jones, 12/03/2014)


Research on camel milk’s potential neglected

More research on camel milk is needed to develop potentially valuable dairy products for marginalized communities in desert regions. This was one of the conclusions of the first international meeting on ‘Milk, factor of development’ (Rennes, France, in May 2014). Of the 10,000 studies of milk published each year, only about ten are devoted to camel milk.  Bernard Faye, a camel milk expert with CIRAD, France, argues that as a result little is known about the proteins in camel milk, which differ structurally from those in other milks, and consequently about methods to preserve it. Unlike cow milk, whose shelf life can be extended from weeks to months by sterilizing it using ultra-high temperature (UHT) treatment, a similar process has yet to be found for camel milk.   (Rural 21, 21/06/2014)


Testing a low-tech cooling system for dairy farmers in rural Ethiopia

Lia Bardoel, a Masters Student in Industrial Design from Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, presented her work on a solar cooling system for milk and the subsequent  studies she did on use of the system in remote areas. The cooling system sets out to improve the quality of evening milk and thus the income of the farmers. The solar powered system  makes ice at milk collection centres, which the farmer collects and brings home during the day to cool the evening milk before bringing it to the collection point the following day. The  system, developed at the Livestock and Irrigation Value chains for Ethiopian Smallholders project, is designed to work on solar and electricity grids. A video on this webpage explains in  more details how the cooling system works on the ground.


Fodder shrubs for dairy farmers in East Africa: Making extension decisions and putting them into practice

Charles Wambugu et al., World Agroforestry Centre/Oxford Forestry Institute, 2006Fodder shrubs such as calliandra, gliricidia, leucaena and sesbania have been the subject of considerable research, and their potential for dairy systems in East Africa is well established. While requiring reasonable rainfall and a fairly high labour input, fodder shrubs are easy to grow, take up little land and offer a solution to fodder shortages for many areas. For extension managers and field based extensionists who are either considering the inclusion of fodder shrubs in their programmes, or are already promoting them but would like to do so more effectively, this guide will prove a valuable resource. For those with little experience, there are simple tools for deciding whether or not they would be appropriate, for choosing species appropriate to the area, and for developing a sustainable seed supply and promotion strategy. For those already working with fodder shrubs, further sections deal with identifying and solving problems with extension strategies, making the extension approach sustainable and giving farmers clear and accurate information on cultivation and management. Extremely reader-friendly, the guide is illustrated with excellent photographs, diagrams and tables.