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Youth in Dairy – Washington Sagonda

Youth in Dairy – Washington Sagonda – Washington Sagonda Watsomba Growth Point, Mutasa District, Manicaland

  • After completing his studies, Washington Sagonda came home to assist his father in running the family farm.
  • He began with horticulture and did well but then markets began to change. 
  • So he revived his father’s dairy project, attending meetings at the Milk Collection Centre at Tsonzo.
  • In 2012 he produced 25 litres a day from 5 cows.
  • He did not give up as it was always highlighted at meetings that there was a shortage of milk on the market.
  • In 2013 he made silage - but it did not see him through the dry period.
  • However his volumes improved greatly - he produced up to 40 litres a day. 
  • In 2014 he made silage again, aiming for higher volumes still.
  • Through attending meetings and training, he is now able to calculate silage requirements for his cows, and budget for the next season.
  • He is still feeding his cows silage which will last him until the rains. 
  • Today, at 29, Washington Sagonda is proud Chairman of the local Association, producing over 50 litres daily from 4 cows, and encouraging other youths to join the dairy industry to create livelihoods.

Jailon Mudzengi, age 72, Shurugwi District Successful Fodder Production – from Planning to Implementation

  • In 2002, Jailon Mudzengi and members of his family attended a workshop on dairying and first got inspired but lacked practical knowledge.
  • In 2012 he joined Shurugwi Dairy Cooperative but lacked knowledge on how to grow fodder and there was no one to assist him.
  • In 2014, enter ZADF, whose Field Officer provided training and guidance in Cattle Management, Fodder Production, Record Keeping and more….
  • He began fodder production, receiving technical advice from the ZADF Field Officer.
  • This year he managed to grow 1.5 hectares of both maize and sugar graze.
  • Germination and plant population was good, crops grew well as rains were above average, and they harvested the crop for silage only.
  • Mr Mudzengi was Best Fodder Farmer of Shurugwi Dairy Cooperative.
  • The Field Day was hosted at his farm.
  • He plans to increase fodder production so he can sell to other farmers in the area.
  • He no longer spends lots of money on feeds….
  • He can now harvest around 20 to 25 tonnes of silage - enough to cover the dry period.

Gerald and Michelle Davidson

  • Gerald Davidson grew up on a dairy farm and has continued in the family tradition.
  • In his current dairy, after a period farming tobacco, he started with 40 cows 6 years ago. The farm now has 450 head of cattle.
  • Daily milk production currently stands at 2 800 litres, milking 135 cows.
  • Gerald strongly focuses on excellent calf rearing, as a key to success in dairying. Calves are removed from their mothers after four days, thus ensuring they get their mother’s colostrum and so immunities.
  • At least a 90% calf survival rate is achieved annually, through very close and continuous monitoring of the welfare and health of all calves, kept in very good, very clean and comfortable conditions.
  • Mobile Animal Rearing Systems (MARS) are used and are moved daily. 
  • This ensures good hygiene, fresh bedding, and prevents disease.
  • Hygienic conditions for the calves are critical to their welfare and survival.
  • Excellent nutrition is provided using Lacto Calf via Automatic Milk Bar Feeders, not buckets; bucket feeding often leads to overly fast ingestion, then indigestion and distress, in calves. 
  • Calves are reared in peer groups and moved in these up though a system of pens as they grow.
  • Good record keeping of every animal’s whereabouts, is also paramount.
  • The Davidsons rear their steers as a future investment; the steers are well cared for and well fed. 
  • Whilst this does cost a lot of money, it is a worthwhile long term investment.
  • These animals increase in value as they grow in size.
  • When infrastructure is required, they sell steers to finance this.
  • The cows are dipped in the dairy, via a homespun spray dipping system devised by Gerald Davidson at modest cost.

Since receiving their Offer Letter in 2014, the Davidsons have intensified operations and stepped up investment.  They have:

  • Opened up another 24 berth milking parlour, making a total of 50 head milked at any one time;
  • Put in an additional 5000 litre water storage container;
  • Introduced Mist Foggers in the dairy to keep conditions cool for the cows in the summer;
  • Introduced Dairy MARS cages;
  • Introduced Milk Bar Feeders;
  • Acquired a spray race; and
  • Put in an excellent EMA approved drainage system.

Other keys to success recommended by Gerald Davidson:

  • Use salt licks; these are critical to healthy cows and good milk production.
  • Above all, hands on dairy farming is critical.  Do not leave everything to others.  Walk around daily.  Observe.  Correct.  Improve.
  • This personal attention to detail on a daily basis is critical to dairy success: Delegate, but only up to a point!
  • Walk around and observe for yourself.  You will spot things others do not, as you move and look.
  • In the daily routine of dairy farming, it is easy to zone out because procedures are repetitive.
  • The eye of experience, when not involved in the full routines and procedures, will observe details that may be missed by those caught up in this repetition.

Ian Lang’s Queen of Zimbabwe

Ian Lang’s cow is rightly rather famous.  No wonder she is nicknamed ‘Queen of Zimbabwe’!  She yields around 70 litres of milk – every day!

  • Born 24 March 2001, The Queen is a Holstein.
  • Her sire is MALOYA LEO, with a high rating for daughter fertility.
  • She proves that you can get very high yielding cows who can give, 5, 6, and more lactations with a reasonable calf interval. She is currently in calf, and due to calve down on 31 October this year for her 6th lactation.
  • She will be given a dry period of about 100 days for recovery.

Queen of Zimbabwe’s Lactation Statistics:

Age Lact 305 day milk 365 day milk
2 - 3 mths  1 17 908 kg  
3 yrs 7 mths 2 12 350 kg 14 252 kg @ 365 days
4 yrs 11 mths 3 15 559 kg 16 073 kg @ 310 days
6 yrs 1 mths 4 14 260 kg 17 437 kg @ 365 days
7 yrs 9 mths 5 14 823 kg 17 190 @ 365 days

Amos Chitungo - Honde Valley Dairy Farmers Association Small Scale Farmer of the Year 2014

  • Amos Chitungo grew up and lives in Honde Valley near Hauna in Mutasa, Manicaland, Eastern Highlands:
  • It enjoys hot, wet weather with heaviest rains in February. Vegetation grows fast and remains green due to humid, warm conditions for the majority of the year.
  • Farming in this climate favours cash crops with cattle farming peripheral only and in the higher parts of the Valley.
  • About 20% of families living here maintain a small herd of around 5 cattle per family.
  • Moving round the country as a school teacher and community development agent, Amos noted the comparative agricultural advantage Honde Valley enjoys over other parts of rural Zimbabwe:
  • Primarily, the availability of water sources year round, that can be gravitated to nearly every homestead from the surrounding mountains, plus fertile soils hot weather and good rainfall.
  • Animal husbandry has not been so successful - due to heavy rainfall and unsuitable pastures that do not support most breeds of cattle, goats and sheep well.
  • Those farmers who succeed to a degree, incur high costs of vaccination and treatment.
  • Over the years, Amos ventured into beef farming.  At one point his herd was 40 strong - record for the area – but this proved sub - economic. 
  • So - after this expensive lesson, he disposed of his herd - and instead went into dairy farming in 2011 - an excellent decision

Farm Size

  • Total Land Holding:  3.2 Ha
  • Land under banana plantation: 2 Ha
  • Area under Dairy 690m2
    (30m x 23m)
  • Land Size under Pasture: 3 Ha
    (out-sourced)
  • Homestead Area  0.5 Ha
  • Other Horticultural Activities: 0.6 Ha 

Dairy Herd

  • Total Head: 26
  • Milking cows: 9
  • Heifers: 5
  • Bulls: 2
  • Weaners: 3 female and 6 male
  • Average daily milk produced:
    160 litres
  • Average monthly Milk produced: 2100 litres

Fodder and Stock feed

  • Milk Flow: 1080 kg
  • Silage: 15 tonnes (Beef meal: 360 kg in the absence of silage)
  • Hay:540 bales
  • Molasses :
  • 1 tonne Calf
    Growers Meal
  • Winter green maize

Long Term Plans

  • Growing the herd to 20 milking cows, then managing an AI breeding programme that will see 1 breeding bull, at most 6 winners and 8 female calves per year.
  • Construction of holding pens for 100% zero grazing for the full herd.
  • Growing at least 30 tonnes of silage during the main season and 10 tones under irrigation.
  • Procuring a mobile milking machine.