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Cattle - Agriculture Form 4

Suggested Topic Activities

1. visit a slaughter house and make observations on the process of slaughtering beef cattle 2. visit a commercial dairy unit and make observations on machine milking 3. visit a nearby school having a dairy farm and carry out the following activities ; i. Driving animals into a milking crush . ii. Weighing and providing dairy meal to dairy cows. iii. Cleaning the available milking tools and equipment. iv. Training a calf on bucket feeding .

Background Knowledge

Before covering this lesson, you should have covered;
i. Livestock rearing practices
ii. Livestock selection and breeding
iii. Farm structures

Milk secretion-Is a process through which milk from the manufacturing cells is released into the alveoli sacs .
2. Milk letdown-Is the movement of milk from the alveolar region of the udder to the gland and teat cisterns .
3. Dry cow therapy-Is the infusion of an antibiotic drug through the teat canal to prevent infection during the dry period .
4. Abattoir- A slaughter house
5. Colostrum-Is the thick yellow milk produced by a cow in the first 4-6 days after calving
6. Weaning-Is the gradual replacement of milk with other solid feeds in calf feeding
7. Lactogenesis-Formation of milk

Topic objectives

By the end of this topic, you should be able to ;

  • raise young stock,
  • demonstrate a caring attitude towards livestock,
  • describe milk by its components,
  • describe milk secretion and milk letdown,
  • milk using correct procedure and technique,
  • describe marketing of beef and milk,
  • demonstrate an appreciation of cattle production as an economically lucrative activity.

Livestock Production VI [ Cattle ]


In Kenya, cattle are kept for two main reasons, namely meat production for the case of beef cattle and milk production for the case of dairy cattle. Note the body conformation features of the two cattle breeds in the above photography.

Photographs ;of a zebu bull alongside a Friesian bull

Raising the young stock.

Calf feeding

The young ones of cattle are known as calves, usually from birth to the age of 4 months when they are weaned. Raising the calves aims at achieving high quality replacement stock in a farm.

Preparation of artificial colostrum

when preparing the artificial colostrum,
i. Whip a fresh egg in 0.86 litre of water.
ii. Add half a liter of warm water
iii. Add 1 teaspoonful of cod liver oil.
iv. Add 1 tablespoonful of castor oil.
v. Mix the contents thoroughly.

Calf feeding

Colostrum is important in livestock feeding of young stock in cattle due to the following reasons; i. It is highly digestible. ii. It is highly nutritious and contains vitamins. iii. It has antibodies to resist disease infection. iv. It has laxative effect hence clearing bowels in calves. v. It is highly palatable for the young calves.

Natural methods of calf rearing

In natural method of calf rearing ,the calf is allowed to suckle its mother directly. This method is not popular in modern dairy farming but is very common in beef farming.

Advantages and Disadvantages of natural method of calf rearing.

  • Milk is free from contaminants
  • The calf takes milk at body temperature.
  • Problems of scouring in calves are minimized.
  • .It is difficult to keep clear milk records.
  • Cows rarely letdown milk in the absence of the calves.
  • The calf may be underfed or overfed.

Foster rearing

In foster rearing , a lactating cow is given several calves which may include her own calf to take care.The foster cow is induced by allowing her to move with the whole lot of calves or by allowing the foster mother to visit the calves in their pens three times a day. Foster rearing is very important if the calves are orpharned or disowned.

Artificial method of calf rearing.

In artificial calf rearing, the calf is immediately separated from its mother immediately it is born and kept in a pen. Training the calf to take milk from a bucket involves the following steps;

  • Putting clean milk in a clean bucket.
  • Placing the index finger into the calfs mouth.
  • Lowering the finger slowly until it is submerged in milk as the calf sucks.
  • Slowly withdrawing the finger while the calf is sucking.
  • Repeating the above steps until the calf learns to drink from the bucket without any assistance.

Advantages and Disadvantages ofartificial method of calf rearing.

  • It is easy to keep accurate records.
  • Farmers can regulate amount of milk given to the calves.
  • Cows can letdown milk in the absence of the calves.
  • It is easy to ensure farm hygiene when feeding calves.
  • It is laborious.
  • It may lead to nutritional scours in calves .
  • Calves may take milk at a lower temperature

Late weaning guide

During late weaning, the calf is;
i. Weaned at 16 weeks of age,
ii. Fed on colostrums within the first week.
iii. Fed on whole milk within the second to the sixth week.
iv. Introduced to skim milk from the fourth week.
v. Introduced to calf pellets as from the third week.
vi. Introduced to green soft fodder from the third week.

Calf Housing

Calves are housed in a good calf pen to protect them against adverse weather conditions and predators.The fetures of a good calf pen include:

  • Well ventilated.
  • Draught free.
  • Proper drainage
  • Easy to clean.
  • Well spaced
  • Leak proof.
  • Well lit.
  • Housing one calf at a time.

Types of calf pens

Calves should be housed singly up to the age of 3 weeks after which they are put in group pens .This helps to avoid the calves licking each other and swallowing hairs which form indigestible balls. The common types of calf pens include ; i. permanent calf pen. ii.movable calf pen. iii.concrete floor calf pen.

Routine management practices

Click the play button to see the video on deworming

Routine management practices

The calves should be dewormed to control internal parasites such as liverfluke ,ascaris and tapeworms. The external parasites that attack calves like ticks can be controlled through; i. handpicking and killing ticks. ii.double fencing. iii.ploughing infested pastures. iv.burning highly infested pastures. v.rotational grazing. vi.use of acaricides through handspraying.

Disease control

Calves should be vaccinated as recommended against infectious diseases such as blackquarter . They should also be protected against diseases through ; i. use of prophylactic drugs. ii.proper farm hygiene iii.implementing quarantine by the government. iv.treating sick animals using appropriate drugs.


Click the play button to see the video on Castration

Castration of calves

Castration is a practice carried out on male calves to render them incapable of reproduction.The reasons for carrying out castration in calves include ; i.to make the calves docile. ii.to control inbreeding in cattle. iii.to control breeding . iv.to control breeding diseases such as brucellosis.

Identification in calf management

Identification in calf rearing helps in proper record keeping of the the calves especially in large scale farms. Common methods of cattle identification in calf rearing include ; i. ear tagging ii.ear notching iii.tattooing.


Click the play button to see the video on disbudding


Disbudding is the removal of the budding horn in calves. Disbudding in calves can be carried out using ; i. disbudding iron ii.use of rubber ring and elastrator iii.use of dehorning collodion iv.use of caustic potash stick.

Milk and milking

Composition of cow milk

Milk is composed of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and water. The composition of milk varies whether it is colostrum, mastitic, late lactation milk, or tainted milk.

Factors affecting milk composition

Factors that affect milk composition include ; i.Condition of the animal -heavily pregnant or emaciated animals produce milk with low butter fat ii.Age -young animals produce milk with a higher butter fat than in older animals. iii. Stage of lactation -butter fat increase at the middle phase of lactation iv. Completeness of milking-the last milk drawn from the udder produces 10 percent of the total fats percentage in the milk

Other factors affecting milk composition

other factor affecting milk composition are i. breed differences-for example Jersey cow has the highest butter fat while the Friesian cow has the lowest ii.Season of the year -The percentage of fat increases during cold seasons of the year. iii.The type of food eaten by the animal -Roughages produce large amounts of fats , proteins and lactose in milk .

Structure of the mammary gland

The mammary gland is composed of the following parts:-

  • alveoli- secretory cells- secretes milk
  • lobule-formed by group of alveoli cells
  • lobes- formed by group of lobules forming a quarter of the udder
  • gland cistern- receive milk from lactiferous ducts
  • teat cistern- receive milk from gland cistern
  • Mammary ducts- channels of milk flow

Illustration ; of the structure of the udder [Reference KLB Fig 2.2 page 39 ]

Milk secretion

Milk synthesis occurs in the secretory cells around the alveolus and gets in the alveolar cavity Milk is synthesized from products of digestion supplied by blood into the secretory cells. Milk synthesis is under the influence of prolactin produced by pituitary gland.

Milk letdown

Milk letdown is stimulated by a hormone oxytocin secreted by pituitary glands which causes the contraction of the muscles of the upper part of the udder to drain milk into the gland and teat cisterns.Milk let down can be inhibited by adrenaline hormone secreted in the blood stream when the animal is under stress for example due to fear or pain

Clean milk production

Click the play button to see the video on milking.

Clean milk production

Production of clean milk is essential to avoid infecting consumers and to enhance quality and hence value of milk . A clean milk should be ; i. Pathogen free. ii.Dirt free. iii.Good flavor. iv. Normal chemical composition.

Essentials of clean milk production.

For farmers to produce clean milk, they should have: a. Healthy and clean milking herd b. Healthy and clean milkman c. Clean milking shed and milking utensils d. Milk filtration, cooling and storage facilities e. Avoid bad flavor in milk caused by certain feedstuffs and oxidation of milk.

Milking materials and equipment.

Milking materials and equipment include:

  • Udder towel -for washing or cleaning teats during milking
  • Milking salve -for prevention of cracking in teats
  • Milking bucket - for holding milk during milking
  • Strip cup - for testing mastitis
  • Milking churn -for holding milk during storage and transportation
  • Weighing scale - for measuring amount of milk .

Hand milking technique

i. Grasping the teat tightly at the base between the thumb and the forefinger and then pressing ii. Closing the other 3 fingers, tightly applying the pressure from the index finger to the small finger sequentially, forcing the milk to flow from the teat to the bucket iii. Releasing the grasp at the base of the teat iv. Repeating the above 3 steps until milking is complete.

Principles of proper milking

When milking, the following should be observed: i. Avoiding use of wet hands. ii. Milking as fast as possible. iii. Avoiding pulling of teats. iv. Milking at regular intervals. v. Ensuring complete removal of milk from the udder.

Machine milking

Click the play button to see the video on machine milking.

Machine milking

Steps to be followed when carrying out machine milking include ; i. Placing each teat in a teat cup ii. Switching on the milking machine iii. Sunction pressure created in the teat cup drawing milk from the teat canal iv. The pulsator directing air into the teat cups thus removing the sunction force v. Milk flowing into the teat cistern vi. Pulsator cutting off air into the teat cup hence creating sunction force that draws milk from the teat vii. Pulling down the teat cups and massaging each quarter gently to ensure complete removal of milk when the flow of milk in the tube decreases.

Dry cow therapy

Dry cow therapy is the application of mastitis control antibiotic into the teat canal after drying off the cow. The antibiotic is sold in small tubes containing enough dose for each teat .Each tube has a long narrow nozzle which is passed through the teat canal into the milk cistern. Dry cow therapy is done to control mastitis infection in cattle.

Milk Processing

Processing of milk changes the raw milk into easily utilized products .The raw milk may be pasteurized, bottled or converted into other milk products like butter and cheese before availing them to consumers .

MILK PRODUCTS: Some of the common milk products available in the market include ; Yoghurt Ghee Cheese Butter Cream Powdered milk

Marketing of milk

Click the play button to see the video on marketing of milk.

Marketing of milk

Farmers can sell their milk directly to consumers, middlemen or milk processors. Dairy farmers can also sell their milk through cooperatives. These cooperatives normally process, package and distribute milk to consumers on their behalf

Marketing of beef cattle

In Kenya, there are 3 major channels through which beef farmers can market their animals, namely ;

  • Kenya Meat Commission
  • Livestock Marketing Division
  • Local Slaughter Houses.

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