B4FA Fellow Michael Ssali advises:
Many smallholder farmers tend to go into dairy cow keeping by blind trust.
They are told about the economic benefits of owning a dairy cow and they go for one without taking sufficient time to inquire about the suitability and qualities of the cow they want to keep.
In some cases they trust NGOs or some anti-poverty programmes to deliver the cows to them either as donations or as loans in which case they are expected to pay for the animal with earnings from the milk sold or to give back the first calf produced to the organisation as a form of payment.
First and foremost the farmer should seek advice from the area agricultural officer about the external qualities of a good dairy cow often known as body conformation characteristics.
Does it have a large udder and well developed teats? Is its stomach large enough to accommodate a large amount of food? Does it have strong legs to support its body weight? Is it a peaceful animal? Read more