A pilot herd-health programme for improved health and productivity of peri-urban dairy herds in Kampala, Uganda was evaluated. A total of 15 herds were enrolled on the program following informed owner consent. Fortnightly, each herd was visited for a general herd evaluation with data captured using standard evaluation form. Following each visit and for every farm, a herd health report was produced with specific recommendations. The herds (5-10 milking cows) fed on freshly cut Napier (Pennisetum purpureum) generally produced 10 L or less of milk per cow per day. Daily milk production per cow tended to be higher (t=4.386, p<0.05) in farms with larger herd sizes. Herds on commercial dairy meal (DM) supplementation had higher milk production than those on brewer’s grain (t=-4.166; p<0.05) or maize bran (t=-4.562; p<0.05) supplementation. We observed no association (t=0.755, p>0.05) between daily milk production and the fortnightly herd health visits. However, following the visits, milk production increased in cows on supplementation with brewer’s waste (t = 2.367, p<0.05) or maize bran (t=2.550, p<0.05), and those that had clinical lameness (t=-2.001, p<0.05). In conclusion, peri-urban dairy herds in Uganda are producing below potential because of feeding and disease control challenges. Therefore, strategic interventions for dairy development should emphasize farmer support to improve the feeding of cows but also the control of diseases, especially lameness and east coast fever.
Key words: Herd-health, smallholder dairy, peri-urban, Uganda.
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