My name is Julian Buye a resident of Nsamu village in Mpigi district and a retired civil servant. I previously worked at Makerere University as a lecturer in School of Education, in particular the Department of Distance Learning.
My husband, David Buye, is also retired. He worked for many years in the Ministry of Health until five years ago. I retired last year.
I am now 60 years old and we have a family comprising eight children. Most of them have been educated up to university and are now living on their own.
There are two children who are still at the university.
We started farming in 1988 when we were still in active service with two local cow breeds and a bull but as time went on, we kept purchasing more cattle from fellow farmers.
In 1990, we began keeping cross-breeds and we used to carry out this work as we were doing office work which was not so easy because most of the work would be done by labourers.
It was only on weekends that we would fully be on farm.
Farming is now our daily work. So far, we have 50 heads of cattle, which are cross-breeds. They include two bulls.
We keep them in paddocks but during the day, the workers sometimes take them to graze in the part of the land, which we are not utilising for agriculture.
We mainly breed the cattle for milk production.
Currently, we have 15 cows that are producing milk, others are pregnant and some are calves.
From the milk-producing cows, during the dry season, we are in position to collect 100 litres of milk during morning hours and about 50 litres in the evening.
But during rainy season, when there is adequate pasture for cows to feed on, we collect more litres.
We have constructed a structure to enable zero-grazing. This will accommodate a reasonable number of the cattle for purposes of better management and obtaining increased milk yield.
What I know is that under zero-grazing, each cow will be in position to produce 20 litres of milk daily.
I am usually cautious of the workers adding water into the raw milk.
I know how that can affect the market for the milk we produce.
This is because we have one trader from Mpigi trading centre who is our sole customer.
We sell to him the milk that we collect every morning.
Each litre is sold at Shs1,000 although sometimes we sell to those who want it in small quantities within our neighbourhood. But we are yet to fulfill the demand by the trader.
One of the major challenges of rearing cattle is the pest and disease burden.
The common ones being tick-borne diseases such as babesiosis, anaplasmosis, theileriosis, heartwater, helminths infestation and East Coast fever.
Then we have the foot and mouth disease, which is so widespread now.
Livestock production systems are considered sustainable if farmers support and promote animal welfare and health.
The reason why we are keeping the cattle in paddocks is because we are trying to isolate them from neibouring cattle, which are capable of transmitting pests and diseases to ours.
The reason why I have passion for rearing cattle is because I attended courses in cattle management, where farmers are aised to keep as few heads of cattle as possible per paddock to avoid disease outbreak.
Keeping the animals healthy is not as easy as people think.
What we have done is to engage a veterinary doctor on the farm. He is the one who takes care of the cattle as well as poultry and pigs, which we also rear.
The doctor usually sprays the cattle with a chemical called Milbbitraz dip spray that we purchase in liquid form and it is diluted with water to the recommended appropriate ratios.
Five litres of this chemical is mixed in 20-litre jerrican, which can be used to spray the cattle five times and we do spraying after every two weeks.
This is basically to eliminate the possibility of ticks attacking them.
Another good practice to consider is feeding the animals well.
The natural pasture grasses and crop residues such as banana peels, sweet potato vines, banana pseudostems and maize stover are good enough to feed the animals.
Napier grass is also good. We use part of land to grow it, which we later collect and chop into pieces to give to the animals.
Apart from selling milk, we sometimes sell mature cattle. A healthy cow, which has not given birth, goes for Shs1.6m but the one that has given birth before goes at Shs2m to Shs2.5m depending on the size.
Besides that, our son, Steven Waswa Kirima, also operates a tour company called Kakungulu Safaris, which has a component of agro-tourism where farmers hire his mini bus to take them to model farmers and farms on study tours to learn lessons and share experiences.
Apart from livestock rearing, we keep pigs and chicken, mainly layers. We collect the eggs and sell each tray at Shs7, 000. Each chicken is sold at Shs10, 000.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor