February 24, 2024

By Penjani Nzima

HE IS THE proprietor of Malukutila dairy farm that is located in the outskirts of the Central Business District (CBD) of Lusaka city. This dairy farm is precisely found in the same vicinity with the famous Zambia Open Universityin Lusaka West.

What is unique about this farm is that the dairy animals reared there are not left to wander and graze in the nearby bushes or within the farm but are confined and fed. This type of livestock rearing is what is termed as Zero grazing.

According to Zero grazing is a system where the grass is harvested and fed fresh to housed cattle on a daily basis. It allows farms to increase fresh grass utilization and milk yield from grass/forage where that farm may not have the infrastructure to graze cattle.  

The advantages of zero grazing

·        The animals stay in the same place. This protects theanimals from being beaten by snakes in the bush and also the animals won’t beable to contract diseases from other animals that may be infected.  Under zero grazing the anils are kept indoorswater and feed are provided by the farmer within the confines of theanimals.  

·        Increased grass utilization – as no selection by thecow.

·        Flexibility on wetter farms, potentially allowinggrass in the diet earlier in the season.

·        Increased access to grass – such as fields that aretoo difficult or far away for cows to walk to.

·        Consistent grass residuals across the season.  

Mr Daniel Malukutila comes from a humble background in a peasant familywhere agriculture was deemed as their sustainable project thereby exposing himto this kind of activity at a very tender age.

Its from this back drop that Mr Malukutila grew up with that desire ofbecoming a renowned farmer and now is plying his trade at Malukutila dairy farmright there in Lusaka West rearing dairy animals for the sole purpose ofobtaining milk for sale.

Mr Malukutila feeds his dairy cattle with Napier Grass that he grows at his farm. He confirms that Napier grass is used bylivestock farmers in East Africa, India and world over.

Super Napier grass

This is very simple grass to grow. When we plant it from seed it takes about one week to germinate. At the height of 30 centimeters, it can be transplanted. Then organic fertilizer must be applied. This crop will sit in your field for seven years and after every two months one can harvest to feed the animals.

It is a type of forage that is native to Africa. This grass is highly nutritious and palatable and is often used as feed for livestock animals. Mr Malukutila disclosed that this Super Napier grass is a perennial grass and is able to grow up to the height of 3 meters. Its leaves are nice and thick with a dark green colour.  The blades of Napier Grass leaves are serrated, and the leaf margins are slightly hairy.

Mr. Malukutila explained to this reporter in an exclusive interview at his farm that he doesn’t regret using Napier grass to feed his dairy cattle because of the immense benefits that the grass has towards his animals.

" I have used this grass for the past one year and now l no longer have to rush for maize stocks which at times are very difficult to find and at the same time very expensive to buy,” he said.

Mr. Malukutila noted that Napier grass is far more nutritious compared to maize stocks. He outlines some of the benefits that dairy farmers will enjoy feeding Napier grass to their animals especially in the dry season.

Napier Grass

• It is a drought resistant crop, meaning it grows even during the dry season.

• It is an easily digestible crop by the dairy animals and has between 15% to 18% protein content.

• The crop can be harvested every EIGHT weeks, meaning you can cut and harvest the crop upto six times in one year.

• Under good management, the quantity of grass from one hectare is sufficient to feed 15 animals throughout the year.

• You have potential to harvest one hundred and ninety big bales of grass from one hectare planted grass, as one hectare can produce up to five hundred (500) tonnes per year.

• Low fertilizer requirement as crop is grown on organic fertilizer only.

• It has potential to increase your milk production.

Mr. Malukutila indicated that Napier grass is the solution to mitigateagainst the adverse effects of climate change that the livestock farmers dairy farmers inclusive are going through in this time age.

“I would like to encourage dairy farmers to have this grass so that they can increase on their milk production as their animals will suffer less stress and things will be better for them,” he explained.

This is a very good grass that several farmers are already making use of to feed their animals right here in this country. It has been in existence for several years but the hybrid type on Napier grass is very recent here in Zambia.

“Let them switch or grow a bit of this on their farm it will be very good for their farm. This will also reduce the cost of production at their farm. The dairy industry is good the market yawning,” he said.

For more information on access of Napier seedlings and cuttings you can contact0977824824

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