Dairy cattle management, health and welfare in smallholder farms: An organic farming perspective

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    Charles Odhong, DanmarkRaphael Wahome, Danmark
  • Mette Vaarst
  • Muhammad Kiggundu, DanmarkSylvia Muwanga Nalubwama, Danmark
  • Niels Halberg
  • S. Githigia, Ukendt
Organic production principles aim at achieving good animal health and welfare of
livestock. The objective of the present study was to investigate animal management, health and welfare in smallholder dairy farms in Kenya, Africa, and to be able to give recommendations which can guide organic livestock production practices as specified by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and the East Africa Organic Product Standard. A longitudinal study of 24 farms was conducted to document and assess management practices and their potential effect on animal health and welfare. Observation and documentation of animal housing design, cleanliness, feeding
management and types of feed available to the cows, milking management, disease and pest management was done in the Kiambu and Kajiado Counties of Kenya. An analysis was performed for indicators of health and welfare with husbandry type, aspects of the housing system, farm characteristics, and management routines. The average herd size was 3.15 in Kiambu and 3.91 in Kajiado, with all the cows’ zero-grazed. Seventy five percent of the cubicles were small (less than 2.50m2). Many of the farmers sprayed their animals weekly (47%) to control ticks, while all incidences of diseases were treated by a veterinarian. Most of the cattle housing flooring were made of concrete (87%) with only
one farmer regularly using bedding for the cows. Cows were mainly fed fresh Napier grass (60%) in Kiambu while natural grasses (43%) was the main feed used by farmers in Kajiado. This study indicated that four major challenges exist for organic dairy cattle management in Kenya, which need to be addressed in future research and development:
1) the use of robust breeds and the breeding strategies; 2) grazing and access to outdoor areas; 3) feeding in terms of stability and self sufficiency of enough nutritious feed; and 4) the handling of diseases and pests using poisons, chemical medicines, along with the development of viable alternative disease handling strategies
TidsskriftJournal of Organics
Sider (fra-til)3-20
StatusUdgivet - 2015

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