Feedback: Danger of giving cow dry, coarse feeds

Friday April 21 2017

An employee shreds grass for preparing cattle feed in a dairy farm in Ruai.

An employee shreds grass for preparing cattle feed in a dairy farm in Ruai. Low-quality dry stalky feed, grass seeds, coarse hay and scrub may cause mouth abrasions which allow entry of infection in livestock. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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I am from Nyeri County. Over the last two years, I have had a challenge with my dairy cows being infected with wooden tongue disease (Actinobasillosis).

I have tried treatment from different vets but the rate of re-occurrence is high. This is greatly affecting production and leading to high rate of deaths in young calves.?

I am kindly requesting to know the best treatment for this disease since it has started spreading in the neighbourhood. Your assistance will be of so much help to me.

Silas Wanjohi?

Wooden tongue is a disease of cattle that affects the soft tissues of the mouth region. The causative agent is part of the normal bacterial flora of the upper digestive tract which invades tissues through breaks in the lining of the mouth cavity.

Low-quality dry stalky feed, grass seeds, coarse hay and scrub can cause mouth abrasions which allow entry of infection. These factors are commonly associated with dry times and drought.

The disease has a sudden onset, with the tongue becoming hard, swollen and painful. Affected animals are unable to eat or drink and there is rapid loss of condition.

The animals too drool saliva and may appear to be chewing gently. The tongue often protrudes between the lips and nodules and ulcers may be visible on the sides of the tongue.

Animals may occasionally die from starvation and thirst in the acute stages of the disease. As the infection becomes chronic, fibrous tissue is deposited and the tongue becomes shrunken and immobile, making feeding difficult.

Treatment and Control:

It is important to begin treatment early, as advanced cases may fail to respond. There are no vaccines available to treat this disease.

Control is best achieved by early recognition and prompt treatment, isolation or disposal of infected animals is recommended when the condition keeps recurring.

Feeding and water troughs used by affected animals should be disinfected to reduce environmental contamination.

Change of grazing management to try to reduce exposure of cattle to coarse or prickly feed will also help to curb the prevalence of the condition.

The high rate of mortality and spread may not be very common with the disease and I would advise that you consult a qualified veterinarian for accurate laboratory diagnosis since there could be involvement of other diseases that may present as you have described.

Dr Jesse Thuo,
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Egerton University.



I am Solomon and I am interested in starting a milk retail company. My question is, is it possible to get over 100,000 litres of fresh milk daily?

It would be good to indicate where you are located or where you want to set up the retail company.

Collectors pour milk into a cooler at a milk collecting point.

Milk collectors pour milk into a cooler at a milk collecting point. Nowadays, most farmers sell their milk through co-operatives. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nevertheless, milk presence is dependent on various factors such as the availability of feeds by the farmers (lack of feeds/poor feeding leads to low milk production) and the price that you are willing to buy the milk from farmers.

Nowadays, most farmers sell their milk through co-operatives and thus you might need to consider organising potential farmers into such groups so that they will only sell their milk to you.

However, you also need to factor in the distance, time and the facilities that you will use to transport your milk from collection centres to your destination to avoid milk deterioration.

Francis Gichuho,
Department of Dairy, Food Science and Technology, Egerton University.


There is a new technology for planting seeds that does not require ploughing. Can I get it from Egerton University and how much does it cost?

The cost of hiring the machinery is Sh1,800 per acre. It is possible to hire the machine from Green Agro in Egerton University. However, the cost will be slightly higher if you factor in the distance.

There is version factor depending on the distance per kilometre.

Sylvans Ochieng Ochola, Egerton University.



I have a wooden greenhouse and it has 30cm plastic cover on the sides and 8m half netting. There are days when temperatures inside soar to 40 degrees Celsius.

Two student innovators test their innovation in greenhouse.

Two student innovators test their innovation in a greenhouse. Temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius are very possible in greenhouses but are detrimental to crop performance. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

I suspect such high temperature results in dwindling yields. Is my assumption correct and if yes, how can I correct this going forward?


Your greenhouse is okay but you need to have a heat dumping mechanism on excessively hot days. With the netting on the sides, you have good inlet of cold air.

What is needed is a provision to open up at the top when required so that excess heat can escape. Temperatures above 40 degrees celsius are very possible in greenhouses but are detrimental to crop performance.

Your yields could be declining due to these temperatures if they are persistent.

Prof Richard Mulwa, horticultural scientist, Egerton University.



I would love to get some advice on poultry farming. I have 31 Improved Kienyeji birds, 20 mature ones and 11 chicks.

Poultry farming plays an important role in improving livelihoods of most families in Kenya. For optimum production levels and good economic returns, farmers need to practice a combination of the following:

A Murang'a poultry farmer in a chicken house in his farm.

A Murang'a poultry farmer in a chicken house in his farm. Poultry farming plays an important role in improving livelihoods of most families in Kenya. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Feed adequately to meet body requirement, maintain right body condition, growth and production of meat and eggs.

Feed diets should be well-balanced comprising of carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins and water. Provide adequate housing to protect birds against bad weather and predators.

The house should be spacious, well lit, dry and easy to clean besides having perches for resting.

Maintain continuous disease and parasite control practices involving vaccination programmes, deworming, proper hygiene standards and treatment or disposal of infected or dead birds.

Fredrick Agutu,
Department of Animal Sciences, Egerton University.

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