Growing Grass for Livestock: The Future of Livestock Farming in Africa

When it comes to ruminant farming, Nigeria still practice the archaic system of nomadic grazing and cut-and-carry system from bushes. In countries like Kenya, livestock farmers grow grass to feed their animals. Many Nigerians may find this laughable but it is far better than what we’re used to.

Growing your own grass means that you are sure that feed supply will be enough to meet your animals’ need. It is also hygienic. When I was young, we had some goats and I was the one that feed them. I normally went to bushes to cut grass. One thing that worried me so much is the eye-sores I normally encounter. I would always have to cope with the sight of human feces here and there. In fact, that was the main thing that discouraged me from goat farming.

Cattle grazing close to farmlands

Now that I have discovered grass
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How to Convert Food Waste to Nutritious Feed Via Lactic Acid Fermentation

Pay a visit to fresh fruit and vegetable markets and slaughter houses and you’ll see how much food get wasted daily. Unknown to many, these wastes can easily be converted to nutritious meal for pigs, poultry, goats, sheep, cows, rabbits, and fish by a process called lactic acid fermentation. All you need is a lactic acid bacteria, a source of fermentable carbohydrate and time. Don’t mind the complex names, you can easily get all of them.

Fruits, vegetables, fish and slaughter house wastes has very high water content and that makes them highly perishable. They can be treated in various ways but those ways can hardly compete with fermentation – they may be composted (time consuming), used in vermiculture (growing of earthworm) or biogas digesters (why use a valuable waste when you can use manure instead?) or fed directly to animals (they may contain pathogens and pesticides. There is
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My Day Old Chick Screening Result

When you get your day old chicks, it is important to do what is called “day old chick screening”. Day old chick screening has a lot of benefits that can save you from disaster. It helps you to know the right time to vaccinate your birds and tells you the right antibiotics to use.

Although there are established vaccination plans that will work for most people in an area, DOC screening is still important because Hatcheries can make mistakes. Some vaccination plans may tell you to vaccinate for Newcastle disease on day 7. But because of hatchery mistake, the chicks may actually need the vaccine on day 5 to prevent disaster. DOC screening will help you discover this.

Due to the cost of this screening (N7000 as of 2015), it may not be favorable to those who has less than 500 or 1000 chicks as the case may
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Tumbukiza method: An Effective Way of Growing Grass

The Tumbukiza method, which originate from Kenya, has been known to improve grass yield (by about 2x) and drought tolerance. The grass will grow longer into the dry season before the leaves start dying off. This means that feed will still be available during part of the dry season. But with irrigation, dry season will lose its significance.

Tumbukiza MethodCourtesy of FAO.org

There are 2 types of Tumbukiza method: The round pit type and the rectangular pit type.

Round Pit Type: Dig a pit 60cm in diameter and 60cm deep, leaving 60cm space between the pits.

Rectangular Pit Type: Dig a pit 60cm deep and 60-90cm wide. The length of the pit will depend on the available land, but it should be as long as possible. Leave 90cm space between pits. Rectangular pits that are long make more economical use of land and are easier to irrigate.
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Insecticide Resistance: How to Use Insecticides Correctly

Insecticides are used by crop farmers to control insect pests that attack crops. It is a well-known fact that world-wide, some insecticides are losing their effectiveness due to insecticide resistance – i.e. some insecticides no longer kill insects they’re meant to kill. US farmers lost 7% of their crops to pests in the 1940s. Over the 1980s and 1990s, the loss was 13% even though more pesticides (including insecticides) were being used. There are several factors that can cause this but we won’t be considering them here. Rather, we’ll learn how to control pests in such a way that prevents/minimizes insecticide resistance from occurring.

Why is Insecticide Resistance so Bad?

The word tuta absoluta will continue to strike terror into the hearts of tomato farmers. It is a moth – a flying insect that can cause 100% yield loss in tomato farms. Farmers tried to kill these little insects with
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Biosecurity: How to Protect Your Poultry Farm from Pests and Diseases

Biosecurity has to do with measures you take to prevent entry of pests and diseases into your farm. A lot of farmers ignore these measures – including me! But from my bad experiences in the past, I no longer take biosecurity for granted. Observing these measures will help minimize disease incidence in your farm. Teach your workers also (very important). Don’t have the mentality that animals are animals and so anything goes. Ignoring the following biosecurity measures can be catastrophic – even if you spend tons of antibiotics on them.

1. Ventilation: Lack of free air movement can cause ammonia gas from droppings to accumulate. It also lead to wet bedding and a host of other problems. All these will eventually lead to pest and disease infestation. So, locate your farm in a well-ventilated area. It should not be box-in by several tall buildings.

2. Closeness to Other Farms:
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Types of Poultry Feed

Just like humans, birds require different types of feed at different stages of growth. Below are the types of feed given to broilers and layers.

Feed for Broilers

Broiler Starter: This is high in protein and energy and is given from day old until 4-6 weeks old.

Broiler Finisher: This has a lower protein and energy content than starter. It is given from about 4-6 weeks until target weight is attained.

Feed for Laying Birds

Starter: Layers can be given broiler starter in their chick stage. This is given for the first 8 weeks. They can also be given chick mash.

Grower Feed: Given from 8 to 20 weeks or when 5-10% of the birds start laying.

Layers Feed: It is introduced when 5-10% of the birds start laying and it is given until the birds are sold.

Feed for Cockerels

Broiler/Chick Starter: Given for the first 6 weeks.

Low
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Raising Broilers, Layers and Cockerels in Nigeria

Broiler Production:

Broilers are meat birds that have been genetically conditioned to grow very fast. They attain market weight (over 2kg) in 6-10 weeks depending on management. They can get sick easily if you don’t manage them well. Broiler chicks goes for N200-N280/chick.

Space Requirement: Stock at 20-25 chicks/m2. 8 weeks old broilers requires 900cm2 or 0.09m2 per bird. See: House Size For Chicken for details.

Feed Requirement: A broiler requires about 5-6kg of feed within the first 8 weeks. It consumes about 1.5kg in the first 4 weeks and 3.5-4.5kg from 5 to 8 weeks. They’re given starter feed for the first 4-5 weeks and broiler finisher feed until they attain the desired market weight (at 6-9 weeks of age).

Keeping broilers beyond 9 weeks is not economical because as they get older, they eat more but grow less. But if you intend to rear beyond 9 weeks
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Raising Chicks: Things You Must Do During the First Week

Chicks need warmth and to satisfy this they are raised in brooders. The chick stage is one of the most critical stages in the life of chickens. If there is loss of performance during the first week, it can hardly be compensated for later in life. Under good management, chicks can increase their body weight by fourfold or more in the first week. To achieve this in the first week, below are some management tips that will help.

#1. Avoid Caked or Wet Litter:

One of the most important functions of litter is to absorb moisture. Chicks retain only about 20% of the water that they consume and the remainder is excreted onto the floor. If litter becomes excessively wet, it will cake up. Caked or wet litter result in high ammonia production but when coupled with the high temperature required for brooding, much more ammonia will be produced.
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Avoiding Feed Wastage

Do you know that birds can waste a lot of feed? Your carelessness can also contribute to that. Below are some helpful tips that will help you avoid this costly wastage:

Debeaking: Debeaking or beak trimming has to do with cutting off the sharp points of the lower and upper beak. It helps to prevent cannibalism, feather pulling and feed wastage. Un-debeaked birds can waste 5 times the feed debeaked birds will waste.

Debeaking is a delicate operation that must be done by trained operators. Error can result in birds having difficulties with eating and drinking. This will eventually lead to unevenness in the flock (lack of uniformity).

Use the right feeder: In both round and straight feeders, feed wastage can be prevented by: Using feeders that have a lip (see Fig below) ensuring that the feeder is not more than 1/3-1/2 full Feeder depth should be at least
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