Egerton University is a renowned premier institution in Agriculture that boats of alumni breaking agricultural grounds each day with new innovations and/or spearheading existing innovations in this sector. Two of the alumni, with first-hand experience as trainers, took initiative to strengthen capacity of finalist students by effectively transforming their view of dairy sector through partnering their companies - CowSoko and DairyCloud. CowSoko is the first company of its own, that utilizes online presence of users to advertise, buy and sell dairy cows. On the other hand, DairyCloud is a company founded for capacity development of stakeholders in the dairy industry and offer dairy advisory services mainly through media for excellence of the entire dairy sector.
In support of young investors in the dairy sector, the Centre of Excellence for Livestock Innovations and Business (CoELIB) satisfactorily ensured the success of this event through offering full financial support. The training was conducted at Egerton University on 23rd April, 2016.
The training brought together student participants across departments in the University; Animal Science, Dairy Food Science & Technology, Veterinary Medicine, Environmental Science, Agricultural Education and Extension just to mention a few. A total of 34 participants showed up reflecting their interest in the relationship between knowledge gained in class and practical dairy skills.
The development purpose of the training was to leverage on the practical experience of finalist students to be more responsive to needs of the dairy industry. In addition, it sought to monetize the skills acquired during their years in university to generate own income as self-employed consultants or experts by responding to needs of dairy farmers in a way that creates value. To effectively gear the achievements of training goals, new model of approach in information delivery to participants borrowed DTC's concept of learning by doing and cow signals's checklists was employed. This composed seventy percent (70%) practical in cow barns and thirty percent (30%) theory sit-in-class.
Nonetheless, the participants were provided with learning supplementary materials in form of brochures, demonstration videos and publications containing detailed information in enhancing good dairying. At the beginning of training, oral expectation assessment of trainees was done through plenary discussions to gauge their level of awareness and understanding activities related to practical dairy.
In details, the training gave insights to the following areas:
- Financial record keeping- This consisted of how to develop dairy business/investment plans, budgeting and income calculation. Participants learnt the basics of stocking livestock units, adjustments required in terms vital inputs enough to sustain smooth running of a dairy enterprise over a long period of time. This also constituted feed availability as a measure in drought risk management.
- Feeding signals - Included body condition score, rumen fill score, manure score in relation to the health of a dairy animal, feed conversion efficiency for improved milk production and how to adjust feed rations to meet key body functions, normal cow behavior as well as sustaining high milk production.
- People signals - How to communicate the technical information to farmers in a way that they own the information and are willing to adopt. This was to enhance participants’ communication skills as future dependable consultants in the dairy sector.
- Herd management – This emphasized the correct codes of practice in handling not all, but a few husbandry practices to improve participants’ care and handling dairy cows.
Thereafter, participants presented their views, outcomes and recommendations from the training-workshop.