Starting dairy farming with one cow to success. A farmer who built a dairy farm from one cow started his journey in the year 2009 with one cow producing six liters today his farm hosts 19 hybrid animals from which he reaps big. Mkulima today several multinational companies started as an idea and action including the likes of apple corporation.

A cowshed, a feed store, and a fodder farm are some of the things the eyes pick out as one enters Simon’s farm in Embu county. The farm is located 20 minutes from Embu highway.

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Siria dairy farm started in 2009 with one cow that would produce six liters of milk and now is farming commercial.

On his one and a half-acre farm, he has nineteen Friesian cattle, eight of which are milked producing 160 liters of milk per day. The highest amount per cow is 38 liters while the lowest produces eight liters.

The animals are grouped in terms of their ages and stages of production for better handling and management of the farm.

Starting dairy farming with one cow to success

“It takes patience and perseverance to grow such a farm. My first cow produced six liters, then moved to 15 when it calved and 21 after I got training on dairy management. This gave me the confidence to expand the farm, “ he says.

He sells the milk at Mburugu Dairy Cooperative society in Embu town, with the cooperative also offering farmers extension and training services in collaboration with heifer international under the Kenya market-led dairy supply chain project (kemdap) reference farm initiative.

The farmers are trained on clean milk production, farm profitability , use of milking cans to transport milk, fodder farming, and animal husbandry and management.

The initiative targeted to train farmers and extension workers on the best practices that will improve milk production by using model farms as the hub to share the experience.


“I have learned how to produce more milk through quality feeding and maintaining high standards of hygiene that cases of mastitis are now rare on my farm,” says Simon, who grows napier on an acre and maize for silage on three.

The cooperative pays sh 43 for a liter of milk when he delivers to his collection centers and sh 41 when it collects from the farm.

Simon milks his cows three times a day.

So far so good for the farmer. However, before getting the training through the kemdap project in 2019, Simon struggled with diarrhea in his herd due to poor feeds.

“But the feed processing plant at our cooperative society courtesy of heifer international has not only enabled us to get feeds we can trust but also affordability. We pay for them from our milk deliveries,” he says, noting farmers used to rely on supplies from Thika which were unreliable.

To complement the training he gets from heifer international Simon watches plenty of youtube videos on dairy farming and reads agricultural materials like this.

“I have learned about manure scoring, which is an indicator of the quality of feed a cow takes. It is scored on a one to five basis where a score of one means it is very fluid while five is dry and segmented. Through this, a farmer knows the quality of feeds they need to include or remove in a cow’s diet.


Farmers should always pay attention to their animals, how they are feeding or chewing cud, “ he adds.

All his 19 cows have tags on their ears that make it easier for identification and record-keeping.

“We keep track of their ages, weight, last calving and the number of calves, artificial insemination occurrences, cycling activity, and pregnancy checks. This helps us inbreeding.”

He feeds his animals three times a day with a mixture of hay, napier, and maize silage, with mature animals getting at least 10-15 kilos of silage made from maize depending on their body size.

The feeding is adjusted accordingly for calves.

His reference farm is flocked by farmers from the county and other parts of the country for training.

“They come we share knowledge and experiences on how to ensure consistent milk production in the event of drought,” he says.

Agnes Kavatha, the project manager, kemdap notes that reference farms have helped farmers pick lessons that aid in milk production which in turn has contributed to an increase in household income among farmers.

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