The Maize Crop as a Source of Food and Feed for Livestock on Smallholder Dairy Farms in the Kenya Highlands

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Bernard A L
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Bernard A L
As in many of the high potential areas of Kenya, about 80% of agriculture-based households in the Kiambu District practice intensive, mixed farming. An average farmer in Kiambu District owns 0.8 ha of land, with 0.19 and 0.17 ha respectively dedicated to Napier grass and maize cultivation. He keeps 2.2 cows, which produce 5.8 kg milk/day, fed under a cut-andcarry system. Other farm enterprises in the District include cash crops, mainly coffee and tea, and food and horticultural crops. The high potential areas in the region are subject to increasing population pressure and land holdings, which are traditionally subdivided between children, are decreasing in size. Dairying is a fmancially rewarding enterprise for smallholders. However, meeting the feed requirements of the dairy animals, while maintaining food production from shrinking farm sizes, is already a challenge. Napier grass meets only a modest proportion of the year-long fodder requirement since its actual productivity on-farm is significantly lower than its potential. There are indications that the maize crop will become increasingly important as a source of fodder. The present study explored the potential for increasing fodder production on smallholder farms without taking up more land, through the dual purpose contribution of the maize crop as both food and feed.