Process Management

News 1677 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Calliandra shrub boosts cow milk

Most small-scale farmers in Africa feed their dairy cows on inadequate and low-quality fodder, resulting in low milk production. Feeding an easy to grow shrub may boost milk production.

Jane Kugonza, a research technician working with International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), advises farmers to feed cows on Calliandra calothyrus (Kalibwambuzi), a shrub fodder rich in protein. She says farmers can plant the shrub.

Animals fed on calliandra produce thick milk and good fat. Calliandra helps the animals produce a lot of milk and boosts their health, especially if it is mixed with animal feeds.

"The leaves and pods of calliandra are rich in protein. They constitute 40-60% of all ruminant feeds needed," says Kugonza.

Calliandra, a shrub with red flowers (red powder puff), can also be fed to other animals like sheep, pigs, rabbits and poultry.

Calliandra contributes 25% to animals' diet, as compared to elephant grass and other grasses which contribute between 8% and 10%.

How to feed
Farmers who cannot buy animal dairy feeds can mix two kilograms of calliandra with other feeds like maize bran (a kilogram), one part shrub fodder (chopped and mixed with other protein rich materials) to every three parts of napier grass or other grasses. If without a dairy meal, feed each cow on 6 to 10kg fresh fodder per day. If fodder and dairy meal are mixed, feed 6kg fodder and one kilogram of dairy meal per cow per day.

In case of drying, this should be done in the shade to avoid losing nutrients. The dried leaves can be stored for a long time.

Calliandra grows well and fast, especially near the lake shores, around the hills but mainly in the areas with coffee trees.

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