business

Dairy Cows

Alfa Farm purposefully decided to import Dutch dairy cows. This enabled us to start milking Dutch cows.

In October 2011 the first cows gave birth. Genetic material is used from an Artificial Insemination Station in The Netherlands. We use sexed semen, as female calves are necessary in order to build up our milking capacity. We aspire to have a calving interval less than 400 days as there is not only a demand for milk, but local farmers are also in need of good quality heifers and breeding bulls, which we plan to provide in the future very quickly. Before the animals were purchased in The Netherlands, adequate housing was secured. Loose housing was built and all necessities were provided. In consultation with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture and the exporter in The Netherlands, the first 25 pregnant heifers were imported in May 2011. In July 2011, a group of 39 calves was imported, and in October 2011 another 35 pregnant heifers came to Alfa Farm.

The dairy cows are milked three times daily in a 6x2 DeLaval milking parlour (herring bone). The milk is transported through a closed system directly into the cooling tank (5000 L. Mueller).

In our breeding program we only work with Holstein Frisian bulls with good records. This enables us to keep our livestock at a high genetic level and will enable us to deliver high quality breeding bulls to the local farmers. In 2015 we expect to have pregnant heifers available for sale.

 

 

Pigs

In our modern pig barn we are able to take care of the pigs efficiently. A slurry pit is situated underneath the entire barn, which allows for easy removal of manure. Currently 300 animals are housed in the barn.

We work partly with genetic material from The Netherlands. The Ethiopian Ministery of Agriculture approved the import of the pig semen. With this genetic material we are working on improving the quality of the local Ethiopian pig. This enables us to produce pigs with a better quality carcass.

Working with new genetic material also enables us to produce healthier piglets with less genetic problems. Inbreeding is a common problem within Ethiopia and supplying the market with new boars has proven to be very successful. Not only does it increase the litter size, but also the daily weight gain of the piglets has improved significantly.

Due to risk of infection, the pig barn is not accessible for visitors.

 

Bull Meat

The local market of bull meat is characterized by fattening old oxen. Alfa Farm is developing a new market: by fattening young bulls we are able to deliver a better quality meat.

The young bulls are purchased at a young age and are fattened for about 12-15 months. The animals are purchased in Southern Ethiopia. In addition we buy bull calves from local farmers. When a farmer is able to breed his cow, the hope is that the calf will be female so that he can increase his dairy herd. If however a male calf is born, the farmer tries to sell it as soon as possible, because this calf will only cost him money. As we pay a fair price for the bull calf, the local farmer is relieved.


Fodder Production

Corn silage is one of the main products produced on the farm. Currently 85 ha of fodder crops are grown.

The fodder for the livestock on the farm is mixed every morning. For the dairy cows the mixture contains corn silage, spent grain and grass hay, with concentrates, rapeseed cake and molasses. This mixture is fed to the cows in one mix (Total Mixed Ration).

Three times a week we deliver a mix of corn silage and spent grain to our customers (local farmers). This is an important activity as one of our goals is to deliver feed to small scale farmers. This also enables us to give them practical advice according to their specific situations. About 7000 kg is delivered to local customers on a weekly basis.

In addition to corn silage, we grow a smaller plot of alfalfa. This high-protein crop is a good complement for the corn in the feed ration.

 

Training

In November 2011, we organized a half-day training for local farmers. Subjects such as hygiene, breeding, milk quality and management were discussed.

In December 2012, a second training was organized. By providing these trainings, we hope to contribute to their understanding of these subjects.