NAIROBI, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- When he started making chicken feeds on his farm in mid-2018, Arnold Karethi was relying on advice from a dealer who was selling him the ingredients. The dealer would mix the ingredients in kilos, but sometimes the results made him disappointed.
Advice from a livestock specialist helped Karethi, who is based in Kitengela south of Nairobi, Kenya's capital, get things right.
"I was asked to download from an online source a free feed calculator, which helps in calculating the exact amount of ingredients one should use thus make quality feeds," said Karethi in a recent interview.
It is over a year since the farmer embraced the software and is not only making feeds for his 500 birds to cut costs but also sells to other farmers.
"I have the software on my smartphone. All one needs is to pick the ingredients they are going to use, key in the kilos of feeds one of them wants to make, the type of livestock whether chicken, fish, pigs or cattle and the stage of growth and the software will guide you," he said.
The feed calculator is one of the most popular software among Kenyan livestock farmers today as hundreds choose to make chicken and cattle feed to cut costs.
Besides the feed calculator, smallholder farmers in Kenya are also using recordkeeping and breeding apps downloaded for free from online sources.
"The breeding software is one of the best because it tells you when your animal will go on heat and thus when you should serve it. All you need to know is the date of the last calving," Zachary Theuri, a farmer in Nyeri said on phone, noting using the apps it has now become easier for him to track their breeding.
Farm management apps help farmers monitor their income and expenses, the health of their animals and milk production.
"In a country where farmers have not been keeping records as they find the manual work tedious, the apps are a huge boost," said Felix Akatch, a livestock specialist from Egerton University.
He noted that the free apps are helping the small farmer digitize their farms, quietly causing a revolution on Kenyan livestock farms. "With most people owning smartphones in Kenya, using the apps is now easier. We encourage those farmers who don't know how to use smartphones or download the apps to seek assistance from their children and it is working," he said.
Bernard Mwaso of Edel IT Solution noted that the free apps are only used in small-scale operations as large-scale farmers or corporations have to buy the full software.