free counters
Back to Management Options Back to Management Options
There   are   many   different   approaches   of   how   to   raise   and handle   your   heifers,   some   of   which   will   be   explained   below. The   decision,   which   is   the   most   suitable   solution   for   your circumstances will remain for you to take. For   those   looking   to   buy   a   dairy   animal   it   is   also   important   to understand   that   there   are   huge   differences   in   management and a heifer is not just a heifer... 1 . Many   farmers   who   only   have   one   or   two   dairy   cows   (with   very   limited   space   and   feeds available)   and   the   need   of   very   constant   cash   flow   often opt   to   sell   all   their   calves   right   after   birth.   Their   main objective   is   to   sell   all   the   milk   their   cows   produce   to provide    for    their    own    families.    After    every    couple    of years   maybe   one   heifer   will   be   retained   and   raised   to replace   one   of   the   cows.   But   more   often   these   farmers are   forced   to   buy   a   new   dairy   cow   after   one   of   their adult   cows   died   suddenly   or   got   unproductive.   Many   times not   much,   if   any,   thought   is   put   into   what   kind   of   sire   is used   on   their   cows,   only   important   thing   is   that   she   gets   pregnant   as   soon   as   possible. You    can    get    a    small    heifer    calf    or    young    heifer    at    very reasonable   prices   from   such   a   farmer.   But   don’t   expect   wonders concerning their quality. There are exceptions of course... 2 . Large   scale   farmers   or   ranchers   who   are   lucky   enough   to   have plenty    of    space    and    grazing    and    therefore    have    no    real restrictions   on   the   number   of   animals   they   keep   often   turn   into commercial   heifer   producers.   The   simplest   and   most   economic version   of   this   approach   is   to   run   a   good   quality   European   dairy   breed      bull   with   your beef    herd    (Boran).    The    calves    will    exclusively    be raised   by   their   dams   &   later   fed   through   extensive grazing   at   very   low   cost   and   then   sold   once   in-calf. Such   heifers   can   be   obtained   at   prices   around   KShs 100,000/-.   But   beware,   if   that   heifer’s   dam   was   a pure-bred    Boran    production    potential    will    be    real limited   although   the   heifer   might   look   great   and   be very healthy and easy to keep. 3 . The   latest   version   to   approach   No.   2   is   to   use   Boran   cows   as   surrogate   dams   to   implant high   quality   embryos   produced   by   high-grade   /   pedigree   European   breed   dairy   cows. Raising   of   such   heifers   is   done   very   economical   as   described   above.   They   can   then either     be     sold     directly     after     weaning     or     when     in-calf themselves.   If   you   have   the   right   facilities   and   the   needed degree   of   management   expertise   this   is   the   cheapest   way   to produce   large   numbers   of   high   quality   heifers.   Although   the production   cost   of   such   a   heifer   is   much   lower   purchasing   one will   cost   you   about   the   same   amount   as   in   point   6   (or   even more   as   they   are   ET   or   IV   bred...).   Only   advantage   is   that   you will   possibly   get   a   heifer   from   better   genetic   parentage   then when   natural   breeding   was   used.   This   technology   is   still   quite new   to   Kenya   and   hopefully   once   more   widely   used   will   reduce prices    of    quality    heifers    to    affordable    levels.    For    more information about this ET/IVF technology approach please contact Indicus LTD 4 . Large   commercial   dairy   farms   whose   main   objective   is   to   sell   milk   often   also   produce   a surplus    number    of    heifers.    Selling    these    is    a welcome    and    often    essential    bonus    to    their economic   survival.   Most   of   the   breeding   is   done by   natural   service   and   bringing   up   their   heifers   is often   done   as   low   cost   as   possible.   Once   those heifers   that   are   found   promising   enough   to   be chosen   as   replacements   for   their   own   dairy   herd are   selected,   the   rest   are   sold   as   in-calf   heifers. If   you   are   able   enough   yourself   or   have   a   good   and   knowledgeable   friend   to   help   you select,   this   most   likely   is   where   you   will   get   the   best   value   for   your   money!   At   the coast this would be Kilifi Plantations and ADC Kiswani Complex in Malindi.  5 . Abroad   (Europe,   USA,   New   Zealand   and   partly   South Africa)   the   country’s   dairy   cow   population   is   often   so uniform    in    quality    and    breeding,    that    most    dairy farmers   sell   their   calves   to   commercial   heifer   rearers right   after   birth.   Later   they   buy   their   own   or   other farmer’s   heifers      back   when   heavy   in-calf,   to   be   used as   replacements   for   their   high   turn-over   dairy   herds. This   has   the   great   advantage   that   you   only   feed   and maintain   the   milking   herd   and   don’t   have   to   bother with    large    numbers    of    young-stock    and    followers. Quality-wise   all   the   cows   are   almost   the   same   and   therefore      freely   exchangeable. Now   more   and   more   Kenyans   are   opting   to   import   heifers from    abroad.    Often    the    purchase    price    is    negligible compared   to   the   transportation   &   bureaucratic   expenses involved.   Nonetheless   the   total   landed   cost   might   still   be less   than   No.   6.   The   greatest   concern   of   this   approach   is that   these   imported   heifers   are   of   100%   Bos   Taurus descent   and   totally   naive   to   all   the   hundreds   of   diseases, parasites   and   environmental   challenges   they   will   surely have to face once having arrived here in Kenya. 6 . And   then   there   are   the   true   breeders...   For   us   heifers   are   much   more   than   just   our future   milking   cows.   They   are   genetically   the   best   animals   on   the   farm      and   no   effort   & expense   is   spared   to   raise   them.   This   starts   with   each   heifer’s   conception:   For   each individual   cow   the   most   perfect   match   out   of   hundreds   of   potential   sires   will   be   chosen to   produce   a   calf   of   maximum   genetic   potential, optimum    balance    and    perfect    pedigree.    Once born   their   feeding,   vaccination   programs   (might have    started    with    the    heifer’s    dam    already!), growth     rates     and     everything     else     will     be monitored   and   matched   as   close   as   possible   to optimum   levels.   Once   she   has   achieved   serving size   and   age   the   most   expensive   and   best   semen obtainable,   often   even   gender   selected,   will   be used   on   her,   as   she,   being   a   heifer,   will   have   the greatest   chance   of   conceiving   compared   to   all   the   rest   of   your   breeding   herd.   Now   the waiting   game   begins...   Will   she   be   able   to   live   up   to   the   promise   given   by   her   genetics and   breeding?   Will   your   choice   of   sire   be   as   good as   you   thought   it   to   be?   Will   she   have   an   easy   and uncomplicated   calving   and   let   you   have   her   milk voluntarily?   (This   being   a   question   in   high   percent Bos   Indicus   breeding   only).   You   will   only   be   able   to see    the    outcome    of    many    of    your    choices    & breeding   decisions   after   your   heifer   has   calved, whether   your   overall   strategy   is   working   or   still needs   major   adjustments.   Every   heifer   you   choose to   sell   will   deny   you   this   most   important   insight. There   are   a   good   number   of   such   breeders   in   Kenya.   Heifers   raised   with   so   much   love, attention,   effort   and   expenses   will   sell   at   anything   from   KShs   250,000/-   to   over   KShs 500,000/-   each,   depending   on   their   breed   and   pedigree.   If   you   are   just   starting   your dairy   farming   career   don’t   even   think   about   beginning   your   learning   years   with   animals of   such   high   breeding   and   quality.   You   will   most   likely   not   be   able   to   provide   the   care   & management they require. Nothing but heartache & disappointment will be the result. Conclusion We    breed    with    higher    priced    semen    than    any    other farmer   in   Kenya   and   have   to   cope   with   feeds   of   extremely poor   quality,   which,   on   top   of   this,   are   more   expensive than    in    most    other    locations.    Our    cows    have    to    face diseases    some    Up-Country    farmers    haven’t    even    heard about    and    have    to    withstand    environmental    conditions most   of   their   Up-country   relatives   wouldn’t   survive   at   all. Think   it   through   to   the   logic   conclusion   and   our   heifers would   have   to   cost   even   more   than   what   was   stated   in point   6.   In   my   personal   opinion   these   present   prices   already   are   completely   unconscionable (as   they   are   only   affordable   by   the   richest),   although   unavoidable   if   you   really   care   for your herd and therefore by all means fully justified. For us the only solution to resolve this conflict is the decision not to sell any heifers at all. 2017:  The year that almost broke us.   As   narrated   elsewhere   we   almost   didn’t   make   it   through.   So   many   of   decades   old   resolves and resolutions had to give way, one of them about sales of heifers... For   a   very   first   time   we   selected   a   good   number   of   choice   heifers,   from   weaning   age   to heavy   in-calf   and   put   them   up   for   sale.   It’s   almost   breaking   my   heart   to   see   them   go.      But it’s them or us. So for a very unique opportunity please visit our