At around 7 am, even before the actual milking starts, milk is already dripping from the teats of a cow named “Mbabazi”.
The owner, Domina Dusabe, attends to it from a modern cowshed made of steel at Mulindi Agrishow Ground in Gasabo District.
After her herds boy milked it, 38 litres were produced that day, the highest yield per cow at the dairy competition.
Mbabazi — which is a cross of the Jersey and Friesian breeds — was in the cow shed together with seven other cows in the competition. All the eight cows were modern breeds including Friesian, Jersey or cross-breed.
The first cow in the Friesian category produced 28 litres of milk per day and was second overall.
The last cow in Jersey category produced nine, and was the last in general classification; while the last cow in Frisian group got 20 litres of milk per day.
The 52 year-old mother of five, Dusabe, a resident of Rusororo Sector of Gasabo District said her cow is very productive, and she takes care of it through quality and nutritious feeding and keeping it in a hygienic conditions, observing that a livestock should be attended to as it is done to a person for it to be effectively productive.
“My cow means a lot to me. I cannot sell it nor put the real value to it,” she toldThe New Times, estimating its price at Rwf1.5 million.
Dusabe got her first cow when she was 38 in 2005 — as a needy person, from Send a Cow, a charity aimed at combating poverty by supporting smallholder dairy farmers. Now, she has four cows, of which three are lactating and produce 80 litres of milk per day.
Before getting the cow, she said, she used to sell beans, a business from which she earned less than Rwf30,000 per month.
“Now, I get about Rwf300,000 per month from milk sales after paying my workers,” she said.
The income from milk sales, she said, has helped her pay for her children and two of them have completed university studies, while one is still at university, and two in secondary school.
“We used to have many cows in Rwanda, but, there was very low milk yield and income. But now, our cows are improving as our country improves in governance and leadership, and we are leaping benefits from such progress,” she said.
Dusabe was awarded a metallic milk can, 20 kilogrammes of licking blocks (food supplement for animals in the form of block composed mainly of mineral salt), 100 kilogrammes of concentrated animal feed, four litres of deworming medicine and a tool used to check the purity of milk, among others.
The competition was organised by Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB).
Speaking at the event, Dr Solange Uwituze, Deputy Director General in charge of animal resources research and technology transfer at Rwanda Agriculture Board, said that as it was realised that genetic improvement of cows has resulted in higher milk yield.
She pointed out that the competition intends to encourage livestock farmers to properly feed their cows and protect them from diseases as well as embrace highly productive cow breeds so that they achieve commercial dairy farming.
“Our local breed is resistant to diseases such as tick-borne diseases but produces less milk. We are implementing a programme to improve their genetics through artificial insemination so that our cattle produce more milk,” she said.
Rwanda has milk production estimated to 816,000 metric tonnes from 7,000 metric tonnes in 1995, figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources indicate.