Brookside Dairy has launched a programme to increase fodder production and use in dairy farming to raise milk production.

Brookside said that adoption of feed preservation technologies, including silage and hay making, are important to increase milk production by smallholder farmers.

John Gethi, the Brookside director of milk procurement, said more than 145,000 farmers contracted by the milk processor will benefit from training on animal feed preparation and conservation.

“Investment in year-round availability of quality feeds and water for dairy animals will lead to improved cow nutrition and fertility, thereby increasing milk yields for each animal kept,” Mr Gethi said.

“The seasonal nature of milk production will be adequately addressed if farmers invest in feed preparation and preservation,” he added.

Mr Gethi said that Brookside was working with farmers to improve the quality of their animals through modern breeding methods such as artificial insemination.

“Farmers need to improve the quality of dairy breeds in order to increase numbers of high-yielding dairy cows,” Mr Gethi said.

Official data shows that raw milk delivered to processors grew 20 per cent to 263 million litres in the five months to May 2016.

The processed milk market has become lucrative with Africa’s richest man, Nigerian Aliko Dangote, set to establish a powder milk plant in the coastal town of Kilifi.

This signals competition for raw milk with firms like Brookside which had contracted more than 160,000 dairy farmers by last year.

“There is need for intervention by industry stakeholders to reduce or eliminate losses of raw milk occasioned by poor handling during milking and transportation to collection points,” Mr Gethi said.

“We have rolled out a countrywide extension service which seeks to enlighten dairy farmers on raw milk handling to prevent inadvertent contamination leading to deterioration of quality.”