SMART FARM: How Mobile App helps farmer manage dairy farm 

Dairy farming in Kenya is one of the most lucrative farming ventures in the country. And as the sector continues to grow, many small scale farmers are now turning to phone based applications to manage their dairy cattle for maximum returns.

Peter Gichuki knows just too well the challenges and dedication involved in running a successful dairy farm.

By using his simple feature phone, peter has an edge over other farmers, which is just a text away.

“I started with one cow. The business was growing due to the sale of milk so I decided to increase the number of cows in my farm by adding two more. A good cow was going for Sh60,000, I bought a second cow for Sh45,000 and a third one for Sh35,000, he said.

At his home in Kawaida location, Kiambu County, peter delights in his eighth-acre farm, which accommodates ten dairy cows on a zero grazing platform.

The 48-year-old farmer subscribed to a cow monitoring system in 2012, after encountering several hurdles while managing his cows.

“Before I joined the service some of my cows could go two years without conceiving. I was using a lot of money inseminating cows without the proper information. I realised my mistake was that I didn’t know when the cows went on heat,” he narrated.

Peter says he is now alert to several issues that arise during his cows’ lifecycle, from pregnancy, nutrition, milk production and even disease control.

For instance, to monitor new calves he groups all pregnant cows together and inputs their due dates using the platform.

A text alert will be sent when the cows are nearing birth.

“Before, I never knew how to make and manage a good shed for the cows. While before my cows suffered from many ailments, after I constructed good sheds the situation changed,” he added.

The application also enables him to know when to vaccinate his herd.

But is there a cost to this? Peter said that there is a cost, but added that it was minimal compared to the benefits.

“This is a cost you cannot consider because I get three messages a week for Sh3,” he observed.

Speaking to Citizen TV, Doctor Kenneth Wameyo from the Kenya Veterinary Association says small scale farmers stand to benefit the most using such platforms.

“It is a necessary tool to have with you and you have advice from extension workers at the tip of your fingers. Previously we used to have them spread out in the country,” he noted.

The association estimates that so far about 200,000 dairy farmers in Kenya are trying the different systems that enable farmers monitor their cows using mobile phones.