Dozens of dairy farmers in Murang’a County have swiftly embraced the hybrid Super Napier grass Pakchong 1 that has been ranked amongst the fastest growing animal fodder crop worldwide.
The Super Napier grass is a hybrid obtained by crossing the ordinary Napier (elephant grass) with pearl millet.
A farm consultant in Murang’a Mr. James Gathumbi reveals that Super Napier has become the most sought after grass by dairy farmers due to its milk boosting capabilities.
The Super Napier grass has a high protein content of 18 per cent which is crucial for milk production and is ready for harvest less than 60 days after planting.
“This grass is a game changer in the dairy production industry as it has a very high biomass with a protein content of 18 per cent which is double the amount of protein found in ordinary Napier grass,” observed Gathumbi.
“It is a fast growing fodder that will attain a height of 2.4 meters just 60 days after planting and is a highly vegetative plant,” he added.
Super Napier vegetates very fast and does well in all types of soil since it is a drought resistant grass even though irrigation and manuring could be used to spur quick regrowth.
“It is also not attacked by pests and diseases that attack the ordinary Napier,” noted Gathumbi.
From an acre piece of land, a farmer could harvest up to 200 tons of the pakchong 1 Super Napier per year and the grass will remain productive for up to nine years once it is planted.
It is highly palatable to livestock including rabbits and is easy to handle for farmers as it lacks the short pricking itchy hairs common with traditional Napier varieties.
The farm consultant added that if feedlotting is done and the super napier is fed to bulls, it has been found to increase the bulls’ weight with between 800gms to a kilo per day.
Additionally in Super Napier fed dairy cows, the Total Mixed Ration (TMR) daily meal cost goes down as a farmer will require only 3 daily meals instead of 10 so as to give the animal enough energy.
A dairy farmer in Thanju Murang’a Mr. Peter Mwangi has grown the super napier in an eighth portion of his land and attests that his dairy milk production has increased tremendously.
“I got a few cuttings from a friend in Kiambu County last year which I harvested even before I transplanted from the nursery due to its fast growth,” narrated Mwangi.
“I had spaced one meter by one meter and within a short time, the grass had grown and filled that space and even overgrown to other areas,” he continued.
“As a result, my daily milk production has increased from 20 liters daily to 50 liters of milk daily,” he added.
By Florence Kinyua