In this system cattle do not graze but are rather confined in a shed or stall where feed and water are brought to them.
- You can keep more cattle per unit area of land. This is achieved by growing high yielding fodder crops like elephant grass, giant setaria, Guatemala and lab.
- You can utilize forage from areas not accessible for grazing such as roadsides and steep slopes.
- The cattle are less exposed to environment hazards such as diseases and heat stress
- The cows conserve the energy that is usually wasted in moving during grazing turning it into more milk and meat production.
- The manure can be collected easily.
Points to note
- Zero grazing is labor intensive. The feed and water must be taken to the cow in the shed. However you can save time as you don’t need to herd the cows.
- You require capital for fodder establishments, construction, equipment and buying quality cows.
- You have to ensure that there is enough feed all the time as planning ahead is key.
Steps in managing dairy cattle under zero grazing
- Establish a fodder bank by growing elephant grass or giant setaria and these should be supplemented with legumes such as lablab. Plant at least one acre of fodder per cow.
- Construct a zero grazing unit with cubicles, walking area, feed and water troughs, the roof and the milking place.
- Choose the right cow that will be profitable in such conditions with the available resources on the farm. In this case a Friesian is suitable.
- Give the cow right feeds in the right amounts for example a mixture of grass and legumes in a ratio of 3 parts of grass to one part of legumes. Supplementary feeds such as concentrates should be given to cows producing more than 8 liters of milk.
- Important activities
- Control of diseases and parasites to minimize deaths and other economic losses
- Proper milking and milking hygiene
- Appropriate breeding methods like artificial insemination
- Keep records on production, health, sales and purchases to help in planning and decision making
- Ensure environmental protection for sustainable production
- Good calf rearing for replacement stock