To help such farmers keep their cattle in check, the Korean government through the Korea Uganda Dairy Project working with the College of Medicines Animal Resources and Bio-security at Makerere University are piloting the use of smartphones to help such farmers monitor their animals away from home.
KAMPALA - Keeping dairy cows can be a lucrative venture if well monitored. For the cows to give more milk, they must be fed well, free from diseases and inseminated at the right time.
To be able to provide all this for the animal, one has to dedicate their time or hire an efficient farm manager.
However, to some farmers, such practices appear to be time-consuming. That is why most cows graze on their own under the care of some young boys who may not have an idea of when a cow is on heat, sick, hungry, and dehydrated among others.
One of the farmers facing this dilemma is Jude Senyongo, a dairy farmer based in Gayaza who says sometimes he fails to notice when the cow is on heat because cows are grazing on their own under the care of a certain young man.
“I work somewhere so the only time I dedicate to my cows is on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, however, sometimes I can’t tell which animal is sick. I get to learn of this after some time when for example time for artificial insemination has past and when for those that are sick are weaker,” says Senjonjo.
To help such farmers keep their cattle in check, the Korean government through the Korea Uganda Dairy Project working with the College of Medicines Animal Resources and Biosecurity at Makerere University are piloting the use of smartphones to help such farmers monitor their animals away from home.
While training dairy farmers at the Makerere University Agriculture Research Institute (MUARIK) in Kabanyoro, Dr. Ha W. James from the Korean Vet clinic said the application will enable farmers to monitor their cattle’s health from wherever they are through a smartphone.
How it works
According to Dr. Ha, the smartphone is attached to a sensor that is inserted in the body of an animal. That way any changes in the body are sent directly to the farm owner’s phone as a short message for action.
“For dairy farming, no data means no insemination, no calf, no milk, and no money for the farmers so the app shows the farmers the importance of getting timely information in farming,” he explained.
He adds that the technology is already being used in Korea and Japan to manage large farms and this has helped them remain efficient and productive.
Dr. Ha, who was training Ugandan dairy farmers, recently said the app will give the farmers real-time information to take action on their animals and also reduce costs since the cows will be monitored and catered for in the proper manner.
In Uganda, the application will first be piloted through a demonstration farm at Nakyesesa, a research station on animal feeds under NARO before it can be rolled out.
Apart from the app, farmers were introduced to ways of minimizing costs on the farm like the use of sawdust and coffee husks on the floor instead of using concrete, how to feed calves, dairy cows, and monitoring their gestation period, among others.
Commenting on the innovation, Manisur Ssenyonga, a farmer said the technology should be first piloted with farmers away from the city centers because most challenges are on farms away from Kampala.