iCow + Farmer = Tons of Silage

Category: iCow Blog

On July 2nd 2015 the iCow team visited 3 dedicated iCow farmers to discover how they were using the iCow services to improve their agricultural activities. First up was farmer Peter in Banana Hill. Peter is 48 yrs old, a father of 8 and lives on his farm which is 80 x 200m. He also rents a small piece of land nearby where he produces vegetables for the family ,maize and napier for his livestock. He is one of the first farmers on iCow having started in 2011 when we launched the first prototype.

Peter took us on a tour of his farm starting with his composting area which was in one corner of his plot. He explained how he collects all the necessary materials including manure and green and dry vegetable waste , and how he layers them together forming a pile, following the advice he receives from iCow. He then covers the pile with banana leaves and keeps the pile moist before turning it every month until it is ready.

He was concerned that the current pile may have been destroyed by the recent rains, however on inspecting it with him we found it to be superb! It was still warm though almost completely broken down into valuable soil nutrients.

  su with peters compost 1 final websized su peter compost 3 final websized

The Mashauri Cow product on iCow  teaches farmers on small holdings to increase their fodder production as well as animal nutrient diversity by planting fodder trees like luceana and calliandra. These trees are also leguminous and thus help to improve soil fertility.  Peter showed us his trees lining the cropping area, they were mature and laden with nutrient rich leaves.

peters calliandra web sized 

The most impressive thing we saw on Peters farm was his silage pit! When we approached the pit, he leapt down into it and pulled back the polythene cover to expose a good solid wall of sweet smelling compacted silage! The pit runs 10m deep, 1.5x1.5 meter wide and high! Absolutely incredible!!. Peter has stashed away tons of quality feed for his livestock and is guaranteed to make it through any future dry spell. He told us he dug the pit with assistance of hired help and used his electric chaff cutter to cut the maize into small pieces befor adding them to the polythene lined pit.

 peter silage 1 resized peter silage 3 resized peter silage 4 resized peter silage 5 resized peters silage 6 resized

 Next we visited his livestock which consisted of 1 milking cow and 2 young female calves plus a young bull calf, kienyeji chickens and 2 pigs!. Peter referred to his cow as his ‘Boss’. He said his day is determined by her needs. He had us laughing when he said ‘Rubbish in, rubbish out’ when referring to her diet. He mentioned that in the past her milk yield would fluctuate depending on the quality of feed he could afford. He also felt that he could improve on the quality of his current batch of silage, stating he felt the maize he had used was too old and that he knew from the content he received from iCow that the quality would be better if the maize was younger and included the cobs at their milky stage.

 peters cow websized

 

This was the first time we heard about an ATM on a farm too! Peter called his pigs his ATM, saying they were to be traded in quickly when school fees were required.

 His chickens were another source of income and nutrition for his large family and we saw beautiful cockerels, hens , chicks and eggs. The poultry housing had an indoor area for shelter and security as well as a large outdoor area where the birds were enjoying the sunshine.

In addition Peter was also rearing a young bull with the intention of fattening him up to sell for meat.

Finally after our tour, Peter proudly pulled out 6 exercise books and showed us his records. Not only was he keeping great milking records as well as records of all of his mPesa transactions, he was also writing down all of the iCow messages, archiving them for future reference!

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Peter invests in his farming activities to educate his 8 children, 3 of whom are in University. When asked about his education level, he burst into a huge smile saying " I sat my form 4 and failed with flying colours!". His humor once again totally contagious!

 

What a star! What a success story! What an awesome farmer!!!!

 

 Peter blew us away! And he has got us thinking about developing an iCow Ambassadors program! 

A farmer's best friend!

iCow is accessed by farmers all through their mobile phones or the internet.

The application came fist in the Apps4Africa competition because of its innovative approach revolutionizing the interaction with small-scale farmers.

What we can do for you

  • Awareness of the cow estrus cycle
  • Access to Vets and AI Agents
  • Optimum animal nutrition
  • Milk record keeping
  • Costs of milk production
  • Prevention milk related diseases
  • Optimum Heifer and Calf care
  • Calf illnesses and diseases​

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