Effects of Calliandra and Sesbania on Daily Milk Production in Dairy Cows on Commercial Smallholder Farms in Kenya

D. N. Makau, J. A. Vanleeuwen, G. K. Gitau, S. L. McKenna, C. Walton, J. Muraya, J. J. Wichtel

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There is a growing interest in protein supplementation of dairy-cow diets using leguminous shrubs. The study objective was to ascertain the association between diet supplementation with Calliandra calothyrsus and Sesbania sesban and milk production in dairy cattle on commercial smallholder farms. This trial involved 235 cows from 80 smallholder dairy farms in Kenya randomly allocated to 4 intervention groups: (1) receiving Calliandra and Sesbania and nutritional advice; (2) receiving reproductive medicines and advice; (3) receiving both group 1 and 2 interventions; and (4) receiving neither intervention. Farm nutritional practices and management data were collected in a questionnaire, and subsequent physical examinations, mastitis tests, and milk production of cows on the farm were monitored approximately monthly for 16 months. Descriptive and univariable statistical analyses were conducted, and multivariable mixed-model regression was used for identification of factors associated (P<0.05) with daily milk production. The mean milk production was 6.39 liters/cow/day (SD = 3.5). Feeding Calliandra/Sesbania to cows was associated (P<0.0005) with an increase in milk produced by at least 1 liter/cow/day with each kg fed. Other variables positively associated with ln daily milk production in the final model included feeding of Napier grass, amount of silage and dairy meal fed, body condition score, and appetite of the cow. Other variables negatively associated with ln daily milk production in the final model included amount of maize germ fed, days in milk, sudden feed changes, pregnancy, and subclinical mastitis. In conclusion, our field trial data suggest that use of Calliandra/Sesbania through agroforestry can improve milk production in commercial smallholder dairy farms in Kenya. Agroforestry land use systems can be adopted as a way for dairy farmers to cope with feed shortages and low crude protein in farm-available feeds for their cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3262370
JournalVeterinary Medicine International
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to the primary funding program for this research, the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES), which is managed through a unique partnership of Universities Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF), Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), and Canadian universities. )is program is made possible with financial support from the Government of Canada, provincial governments, and the private sector. )e authors also acknowledge the large contribution made by volunteers and staff of Farmers Helping Farmers and the academic and support staff of the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). As well, the support of the NDFCS, the cooperation of Upendo Women?s Group, and the primarily women dairy farmers made it all possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 D. N. Makau et al.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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  • Journal Article

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