Drought Tolerant Grass That Will Help Farmers Increase Milk Production


For the longest time, dairy and beef farmers in Kenya have faced the challenge of getting sustainable fodder for their livestock. This however, could be a thing of the past. Farmers who are striving to have their cows produce more meat or milk should consider feeding their animals Brachiaria grass.

Commonly known as the Maasai, Tanzania or Mombasa grass, Bracharia grass is native to Africa and other tropical regions; which found its way back to Africa. In Kenya, Brachiaria was re-introduced by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) plant breeders. There are two varieties of this grass known as Mulato and Mulato II.

A report released by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) in 2016, stated that Brachiaria grass showed a great potential as a preferred option to supply quality forage to livestock especially during the dry seasons in Kenya. This conclusion was based on a research conducted in Kwale and Kilifi Counties in coastal lowlands, Machakos and Makueni Counties in mid-altitude eastern region, Nyandarua, Nyeri and Embu Counties in central highlands and in Trans-Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet and Busia Counties in western Kenya.

Bracharia grass boosts milk and meat production.  Here a five reasons why farmers should give a shot at Brachiaria grass:

  1. It is drought tolerant and can survive harsh growing conditions and provides considerable nutritional benefits for livestock. It ensures consistent supply of high quality fodder for livestock even during the dry season.
  2. It can be grazed or cut and fed to animals under zero-grazing and also has high biomass production capacity making it a good alternative for making silage or hay.
  3. It has less pests and diseases and reduces methane emissions that contribute to global warming.
  4. Brachiaria grass can grow in soil of medium fertility with annual rainfall of 800 mm and up to 2300 m above sea level.
  5. Brachiaria grass holds the soil firmly and can be used for erosion control on hilly areas. It plays a significant role in soil improvement, soil conservation and increasing bio-diversity.

Susan Nderitu

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