Tips to a profitable zero grazing enterprise

Many livestock farmers have raised enquiries about the best practices for a profitable zero grazing enterprise. Before dwelling on to this topic, livestock farmers should understand that zero grazing is not zero feeding.

Many farmers have incurred enormous costs in setting up zero grazing enterprises but have ended up failing miserably. Influential leaders have not been spared either. And all this is due to a lack of understanding of the pertinent requirements for a profitable zero grazing enterprise.


Zero grazing or stall feeding is basically confining dairy cattle in a stall and feeding them there.  There is minimum movement of cattle because they are not allowed to graze in the fields and thus the term zero grazing. Many smallholder dairy farmers in Kenya are embracing the zero grazing model of dairy production because of the many benefits accruing from it. Problems such as shortage of grazing land, low productivity of dairy cows, low quality fodder, prevalence of diseases and lack of money are dealt with in this system of dairy production.

The zero-grazing unit

Zero grazing unit side elevationCows are kept and fed inside the stall all year. The site where the unit is built determines the efficiency of operations throughout the zero grazing enterprise. It should be near as possible to the source of forage to reduce labor costs of carrying the cut grass to the cows and carrying manure back to the farm. Zero grazing requires an increased level of labor input, due to the need to cut grass daily. The time requirement is about 3 man hours/cow/day. Proximity to the homestead in relation to the biogas plant is also an important consideration.

The quality and quantity of construction material should be assessed thoroughly to determine the least possible cost while maintaining quality of the house. Quality materials which are locally available can greatly reduce costs. The cow shed must be functional, cheap and long lasting. The choice of an artisan is important because a lot of expensive material can be wasted by hiring a bad artisan. Note that the most expensively built stable is not always the best and most economical one.

Farmers are advised to use recommended zero grazing housing plans.

Improved dairy cattle breeds

In order to increase milk production you need to concentrate on fewer, better fed and better quality animals. Stock the units with dairy cows that have been bred specifically for their high milk yield. Important dairy breeds of cattle in Kenya for high-milk yield are Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey, Friesian and Sahiwal.

Maintain the dairy breeds by upgrading your stock through artificial insemination using proven dairy-bull semen. Selecting good cows and culling non performing ones coupled with good calf rearing for replacement stock should be an integral part of the system.

Adequate forage resource base  

Grassland management and flexibility are the keys to the effectiveness of this system. Planning ahead is critical to ensure there is always adequate forage available for the animals. Zero grazing can provide opportunities for herd expansion by increased forage utilization or through accessing land beyond cow walking distance for grazing. Think commercially and know the maximum forage production potential of your farm holding and the potential amount of off farm forage available to your herd in a given year. This will enable you to determine the maximum number of animals your zero grazing enterprise can support. The amount of forage, whether obtained within or outside the farm, is actually the single most resource that determines the number of cows or animals that can be sustained in the unit because.

  • In feeding the cows the forage to concentrate ratio cannot surpass 60:40 percent. A ratio of 70:30 is recommended.
  • Forages take time to establish as opposed to concentrates which can be purchased on demand.

Elephant (nappier) grass (penisetum puperum) grass is preferred as the main fodder crop because it has the advantage of being relatively easy to grow and re-grows rapidly after cutting. Other useful crops or grasses are fodder maize and fodder sorghum. Choose the most suitable fodder to your locality.

Replenish soil fertility by recycling all manure on the napier crop every 2 to 3 days. Apply 4 bags (@ 50 kg) of compound NPK fertilizer (20-10-10) per acre per year. This should also apply when establishing other kind of fodder. Harvest the mature napier grass after it has grown to 60-90cm in height. The aim should always be to produce the highest amount of dry matter (DM) per unit area of fodder grown.

Plant 0.75 - 1 acre of napier grass per mature cow and her offspring.  A daily intake of 75-100kg of fresh grass/cow can be achieved with good management to give a dry matter intake of 14-16kg/day. A fresh weight intake of 100kg/cow/day would be required for 15kg DM of grass.

Become skilled at producing and conserving feed for the dry season to ensure that milk production is maintained at a steady rate throughout the year. One of the greatest problems is providing good quality feed to the herd during the dry season. Dig a silage pit to store and preserve animal feed. Learn to store grass for use during the dry season by making your own Silage and Hay. The increased utilization of off farm fodder can allow for an increase of stocking rate on the farm. You can buy or rent more land for animal feed or purchase feed from neighbors.



Cows fed to capacity on grasses alone have the potential to produce up to a maximum of 7 Kgfeeding dairy cows of milk per day. Additional milk is supported by concentrates. Keep in mind that it is pointless to feed supplements when forage requirements are not met.

Give concentrate supplement as the main source of energy and protein. Most farmers prefer giving dairy meal to the cows at milking time. Supplement at a rate of 1 kg for each 1.5 litres of milk the cow produces on top of the 7 Kg of milk contributed by grass. Other concentrates like sunflower seed cake, cotton seed cake and bran are available. For example farmers say that the use of brewer’s waste as a feeding supplement, ad lib, increases milk production by 7 litres per day.

Fodder legumes constitute an additional source of protein. Fodder trees such as Leucaena spp., Calliandra spp, and Sesbania spp, are used to increase the protein content of the herd’s diet.

But the most important thing is to have your ration formula right. Ration formulation is a complex process and any farmer cannot just do it. You will need the skills of a qualified professional to come up with the right mixture of the feeds available to your cows. Invest in a chaff-cutter to mill crop residues for feed so that nothing goes to waste. Cows must have adequate feeding space, and wastage must be monitored, to ensure feed intake is maximized. Wastage should be less than 5%, and refused material must be removed from the feeding area daily, as this will decompose rapidly.

Innovative livestock farmers have come up with home-mix dairy rations. An example composition of a 100 kg of home-mix dairy ration is 40 kg sunflower cake, 40 kg maize grain, 10 kg sorghum, 5 kg soya beans and 5 kg dried cassava chips. The mixture is dried and milled. Farmers who use this home-mix state that they get twice as much milk from their home mix as they do for the same amount of purchased commercial dairy meal

Mineral salt lick should be offered to the cattle ad lib in the mineral box. Water should be available throughout the day as it makes the bulk of the milk.

Stable manure production

Manure should be treated carefully to reap maximum benefit from it. Manure contain high content of organic matter and minerals which improve soil fertility therefore forage yields and is source of material for biogas production. Cover the manure pit to prevent nitrogen losses.

One cow can produce up to 20 tons of compost per year depending on availability of crop residues. 20 tons of compost contains approximately 80 kg of nitrogen, 40 kg of phosphate and 10 kg of potash. If valued against current fertilizer prices this composition is valued at Kshs. 2000.

The manure produced from 3 cows is sufficient to produce the amount of gas needed for cooking and lighting in the farm.



-1 # gabriel 2011-10-24 10:08
excellent material and presented in a simple manner.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Geoffrey koske
-1 # Geoffrey koske 2012-08-22 21:30
This is great information.Where do i get more of this?Are there farms to be visited to get a practical feel of this.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Sam Owen
-2 # Sam Owen 2014-03-11 12:15
Geoff, If you require VGC second hand diet feeders please drop us an email. Excellent when used with zero grazing.


Sam Owen.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
shadrach mogire
+1 # shadrach mogire 2011-11-07 15:47
this is good work
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+3 # Juliet 2011-11-22 14:08
Im starting up as a commercial dairy farmer & this infomation is great. please keep up the good work.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Carole Mugo
+1 # Carole Mugo 2011-12-03 09:49
I want to start commercial dairy farming and your information is great and so helpful.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
koskei john
+5 # koskei john 2012-02-08 13:40
send me a physical plan for three cows and a calves pens inclusively for a small scale farmer.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # mahony 2012-03-25 17:23
hello there - I looking for info regarding modern and new technical of livestock rearing and where I can actual purchase cows for the purpose of starting a commercial milk production business - thanks a lot
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Menya Mwambeu
-1 # Menya Mwambeu 2012-03-25 17:38
I am interested in starting a small scale dairy farming,in the second quarter of this year. Kindly give me the possible financial implication for a starter and the trainings available for starters.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Malakwen GL
-5 # Malakwen GL 2012-03-29 15:15
Very useful information. Am interested in starting in dairy or beef farming in small acreage within the next two years. I would appreciation more information before start up.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Carole Mugo
0 # Carole Mugo 2012-05-04 09:21
I wish to spend some time in a farm and learn more about zero grazing. Could you kindly advise of any place near Nairobi I can go. You are doing a tremendous job.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # yusuf 2012-08-15 14:02
Hi carole there is a very good farm to visit in kasarani mwiki area just visit the agricultural officers office of kasarani and you will be directed there
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # Njomo 2012-05-04 15:07

I am very much interested in dairy farming and no doubt, the information available in your site is very helpful. How many cows can I confortably keep on a one acre piece of land? Financial implication/start up capital? Do you train people? I would appreciate hearing from you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
joseph murei
+1 # joseph murei 2012-05-09 17:42
Need articles on dairy production
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # tony 2012-05-27 23:51
hie.wonderful job and always congratulations.i need structural information for 30 cows.kindly include structures photos and drainage really interested in dairy farming very soon.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # suge 2012-05-28 23:25
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Njosh 2012-06-06 16:09
Who needs to know the correct ratios to make quality dairy meal?
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-2 # yusuf 2012-08-15 14:14

Am also intrested in knowing the numbere of cows in relation to the size of land
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Barigye Byogamba Didas
0 # Barigye Byogamba Didas 2014-12-15 13:39
thanks a lot for availing us in information.
am starting up a commercial farming
could you please send me the mixing ratio
and plan for the structure .
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-2 # elyene 2012-06-20 16:50
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Charles Njoroge
+3 # Charles Njoroge 2012-06-22 07:52
Elyene you can reach me on 0720-833506.I will give you more information in terms of feeding, mixing your own livestock feeds and care. Feel free to talk to me. Knowledge is power.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Haroun Wandalo
0 # Haroun Wandalo 2012-07-26 12:02
hi. brother.
I really do need this info, please assist me with it and may Almighty God bless you very much
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Jack N
-1 # Jack N 2012-08-27 12:21
hi Charles,
i would really appreciate getting to know tips of how to increase my cows productivity and also mixing my own feed.
can reach me on
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Jacky 2012-10-08 13:17
Hi Charles, I would also be interested in information regarding livestock feed. My email address is . Thanks
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Jackson 2012-12-15 19:06
@ Charles. Pls also keep me posted on this valuable info on mixing the feeds at mjahkoh[at]yahoo[dot com] or 0726434552
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Aggrey Kankunda
0 # Aggrey Kankunda 2012-07-02 08:40
Excellent info, practical and appropriate to our African context.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Omaido wilson
+1 # Omaido wilson 2012-07-26 15:00
Very useful information indeed.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Peter Gichuku
-1 # Peter Gichuku 2012-08-15 15:18



CALL 0722956647
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+2 # Wairimu 2012-08-15 15:47
I am a dairy farmer and this information is very useful. Keep up!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # jacky 2012-09-11 10:24
Great article. Really helpful. Anyone interested in commercial dairy farming, I can send you a contact of person in Murang'a. He is a small scale farmer with a capacity of 150litres daily. You can send me your email address.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
azil yusuf
0 # azil yusuf 2012-09-12 11:59
Hi jacky i will appreciate a visit to the farm my email address is phone number 0722732889
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
James Chege
0 # James Chege 2012-10-10 10:40
Please send the Muranga farmer contact details to . Thanks!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # catherine 2012-10-26 12:19
hi jackie
kindly send me the contact
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Jacky 2012-10-30 11:59
Hi Catherine, his name is Ngaru call him on 0721214709
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # monny 2013-01-03 09:43
please jacky give me the contacts of the guy. I have started a zero grazing farm and need all the info I can get.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # azi 2013-01-22 12:04
hello sir's
my name is azi,i'm from ethiopia and i would like to start animal farm,i mean dairy.please help me with any information you know.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
jeremiah nkomo opeko
0 # jeremiah nkomo opeko 2012-09-11 19:26
i am interested in venturing into commercial farming in emuhaya in vihiga county. i would wish to find out where i can visit for advice, which breed is good here and how we can find a market for our milk.i would also wish to network with like minded individuals who can assist me in starting up, technical advice and wher to get good breeds. your feature is wonderful. keep it up.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # suzzie 2012-09-30 14:53
hi Jacky,
please assist me with the contacts of the commercial dairy farmer from Muranga ......I'm from Mrg and thus he'd be of great help.....I intend to start a small scale dairy project in 6 months time
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # suzzie 2012-09-30 14:56
@ Jacky,
my email address is ....
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Apollo S Kabiru
+2 # Apollo S Kabiru 2012-10-02 19:02
Thank you very much for the good Daily Farming information. I am already in Daily farming with fifteen daily cows. Wonderful business!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Ludovick Kezzah
0 # Ludovick Kezzah 2012-10-03 16:44
Very useful information indeed, presented in simple understandable form. God bless you.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Jacky 2012-10-05 09:32
Hallo. I would suggest to anybody interested in dairy farming and other types of farming to visit the Nairobi International Trade Fair, if possible. I found it to be very informative.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Aggrey Kankunda
0 # Aggrey Kankunda 2012-10-05 11:17
When you visit the Trade Fair, please look out for Mr. Henry Musaviri of MolaPlus Investments (0722656142). Great info on how to boost your cows' milk yield using some of his products and other innovative ideas.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
korede Odufuye
0 # korede Odufuye 2013-12-04 14:25
Hello, I trust this mail finds you well.

I a a young Enterprenuer from Nigeria with interest in commercial diary farm. I would like to have an information. and will like to talk to someone about it.

Kindly revert as soon as possible.

Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Yusuf 2012-10-08 09:56
Hi farmers there was good ways of adding value to your silage making it palatable to the cows resulting in good milk production in the Show Bravo to Mr Henry
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Jacky 2012-10-08 13:20
Henry Musaviri and his team from Molaplus are also available to conduct training on dairy to any number of group of people. Their rates are very fair and they offer very sound and practical advice.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Naom 2012-10-08 22:15
I want to buy two cows for commercial mild production,plz advice on the right feeds and correct ration.thax
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Jacky 2012-10-09 11:14
#Naom Check out found on this website. Also contact the people of molaplus that someone had talked about on this forum.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # Jacky 2012-10-10 11:11
Join the farming kenya group on facebook. They organise field visits to dairy farmers
I herd of 40 (12 milking), and averaging 300 litres of milk per day.

Date: 13th October 2012: This is an information and knowledge visit
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Wol 2012-10-24 17:35
I am from Bungoma county-in Kanduyi. I would like your advice on which breed of cow is suitable in that place, where i can buy 1 or 2 and the structure for two cows and calve pen
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # SOLOMON FWAMBA 2012-11-21 16:50
How do yuo manage the cases of calf pneumonia? Your response will be highly appreciated.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Jacky 2013-01-03 16:55
Again, I urge you all to join the Farming Kenya group on facebook. There are great tips on farming not only dairy. It is such a wonderful wonderful resource and knowledge centre. All the info there is free.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Jacky 2013-01-08 10:54
Hi, there is a trip organised to Giwa Farm in Gachie on 19th Jan 9am-2pm. Giwa farm has a herd of 40 cows, milking over 300 litres per day. Charges r 500 for a group less than 20 and 300 for a group of more than 20. Please share with other interested people. We grow more when we learn together.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
charles nderitu wagura
+1 # charles nderitu wagura 2013-01-14 18:13
Iam very happy about the material on dairy self i have a small dairy farm which is one year old and i am totally in agreement with what i have gone through
i have three cows and iam milking one with an average of 18litres per day.i hope iwill succeed in this venture.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
charles nderitu wagura
0 # charles nderitu wagura 2013-01-14 18:15
notify me on follow-up comments
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # musa 2013-01-21 15:05
great read there and guide
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # vigilance 2013-01-30 16:57
just want to begin dairy farming the starting point
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
+1 # Jacky 2013-01-31 16:53
vigilance, there is this group on facebook that has such a wide resource on dairy farming as well as established and new dairy farmers you can visit.I highly advise you to check it out.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Samuel Taban J Kilombe
0 # Samuel Taban J Kilombe 2013-02-26 15:58
I am a farmer in South Sudan planning to start a Zero Grazing Milk Production Unit. Please send me the plan for two cows.
Samuel Taban J KIlombe
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
-1 # mathayoh 2013-04-14 15:54
Zero grazing plan
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
nick tallam
0 # nick tallam 2013-07-25 18:12
Great information I would to know more feeds.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
chemutai maritim
0 # chemutai maritim 2013-11-21 17:07
i would like to start a zero grazing farming in 80x100 plot please advice on where to start.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
chemutai maritim
0 # chemutai maritim 2013-11-21 17:12
i would like to start zero grazing of one dairy cow in 80x100 plot with a house. Please advice on where to start.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
kiprono ngetich
+2 # kiprono ngetich 2014-02-23 13:01
please send i would like to request for business plan for 3 cows,staying in 30x100 plot
looking forward for you reply
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Janet Mwamatu
0 # Janet Mwamatu 2014-03-12 10:52
I want to start dairy farming on a 1ha. please advice.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Sam Owen
0 # Sam Owen 2014-03-12 13:48
With small numbers of dairy cattle you need to pool your resources and work together. I would suggest getting 30-40 cows together and running them as one group.

Feed - various feed (ingredients) can then be mixed together to make a ration. Maize, corn, grass, hay, wheat, barley, oats, soya, canola/rape, rice, palm meal, bread, bakery waste, palm leaves. Mixing can be completed with shovels or by hand. Each mouthful the cow eats want to be the same. Cut material to about 2 inches 5cm in length.

Have fun!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
seo in lahore
0 # seo in lahore 2014-09-18 03:53
Hey there! This is kind of off topic but I need
some guidance from an established blog. Is it very
difficult to set up your own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick.

I'm thinking about making my own but I'm not sure where to begin. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

With thanks
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Shadrach Mogire
0 # Shadrach Mogire 2015-06-11 16:07
I am eager to start a small scale dairy farming. But I lack knowledge on feed formulation, best dairy breed, size of land required, housing plan of zero grazing house, rearing of calves, best feed, etc.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # kevoh 2015-07-07 10:30
please do email me on comprehensive plan on dairy farming-5 cows,,plus the structure,,feeds,,and estimated costs,,and more importantly, the breeds i should get and from where,,,please please do assist,,Thank You
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # Orlando 2015-09-22 03:11
An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you should publish more on this subject,
it might not be a taboo subject but usually people do not discuss these subjects.
To the next! Best wishes!!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # sarah 2015-11-25 21:08
need help to boost milk production in uganda and good breed of cows
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
pinoy tv
0 # pinoy tv 2016-03-22 07:20
Consider the attractiveness of the sturdier options in swing
sets, such as those built from hardwood timbers. And in general, Internet provides a great range of entertainment.
In order to develop potential shoppers, more and more trade companies join in opening online stores.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Christine mueni
0 # Christine mueni 2016-07-15 20:01
Excellent. Good explanation in the most simple and easy manner
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Gilbert kiprotich
0 # Gilbert kiprotich 2016-09-08 19:50
Big up guys, Now I know
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Gilbert kiprotich
0 # Gilbert kiprotich 2016-09-08 19:51
[fv]Great [/fv]
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
agence referencement lyon
0 # agence referencement lyon 2017-02-19 20:13
Hello! I've been reading your site for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas!
Just wanted to say keep up the great job!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # GoldSilverBronzeKaratbars 2017-03-11 06:03
I believe that is one of the most significant information for me.

And i'm satisfied reading your article. However want to statement on few normal issues,
The website taste is great, the articles is truly nice : D.

Good process, cheers
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # GHSTools 2017-04-06 04:06
Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this
site. It's simple, yet effective. A lot of times it's difficult to get that "perfect balance" between superb usability and appearance.
I must say that you've done a very good job with this.
Additionally, the blog loads super fast for me on Internet explorer.
Outstanding Blog!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # 2017-05-03 04:45
I visited various websites except the audio quality for
audio songs existing at this website is actually excellent.

Here is my page; 365 bingo,,
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
0 # DéMéNagement 2017-05-04 14:20
Je me nomme : Marcel Boivin webmaster mais aussi vieux Déménageur, ma passion : effectuer ce blogging dans le but de soutenir tout à chacun.
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
Liste PlansBL
0 # Liste PlansBL 2017-06-10 09:47
optimisez votre netlinking avec plansbl ! rien d'aussi easy que d'utiliser la liste pour retrouver
des sites Web qui vous permettent d'inclure des backlinks
ce qui aura pour effet de dynamiser vos positions dans les outils de recherches
comme Google et ainsi vous apporter plus de positionnement...
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote
deaura spa
0 # deaura spa 2017-06-12 06:37
Right here is the right site for anyone who wants to understand this topic.
You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally will
need to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that's been written about for a long time.
Great stuff, just great!
Reply | Reply with quote | Quote

Add comment

Members Login

Who's Online

We have 72 guests and no members online