Small scale farmers urged to venture into dairy farming for quick wins

By Tambaoga Gora

A Zvimba North farmer Mark Hook has come up with an affordable dairy farming model for small scale farmers.

The model is based on the natural regeneration of vegetation by combining several inputs into the pasture system.

Hook’s dairy paddock has a chicken run of more than 200 layers that produces manure for the pasture and has also planted some legumes that can fix nitrogen into the soil to minimise the cost of fertiliser, chemicals and animal feed.

“So what we are trying to do is we are trying to regenerate the soil so everything comes from the soil whether its grass, tobacco or maize and we are doing it with our animals so we don’t use any fertilizer or chemicals.

“We try and cut costs and what we have is the dairy cows in front they move 30 meters every day so on this 11-hectare pasture, they take 30 days to reach the end and they are layered chickens following them, they scratch the soil mixing up everything feeding on fly larvae and they spread the manure they also add nitrogen to the soil they can add 200 kgs of nitrogen to the soil in one year that’s for 200 chickens,” said Hook.

Chinhoyi University of Technology School of Agricultural Science official, Mr Eddington Gororo is convinced the concept is a game-changer.

“From a scientific perspective, regenerative agriculture is more like taking agriculture back to nature to what nature does without having to put external inputs into the system so it becomes cheaper and affordable for everyone even the small farmers can do that as long as they can bring the components together,” said Eddington Gororo, Animal Scientist.

Small scale farmers believe the concept is a step in the right direction.

“We have learnt that dairy farming does not need a lot of money or animal feed from shops we can use our locally available resources like grass and maintain it to get premium milk,” said one farmer.

The concept, which is based on reducing costs by improving soil quality to achieve a higher yield of grass and quality milk, while also producing premium eggs, reflects the importance of innovation in agriculture.