Milk production in Malawi is still unsatisfactory despite efforts by different stakeholders to boost the dairy sector. To investigate the roots of the problem, a survey on the current production practices and constraints on smallholder dairy farming was conducted in the Northern Region of the country. A total of 210 farmers were interviewed. The results revealed that farmers had small herd sizes in the region with an average of 2.2 ± 0.6 cattle per farmer. Average herd size was larger in male-managed farms than in female-managed farms (2.6 ± 2.8 vs. 1.8 ± 1.3), farmers with more than 5 years of dairy farming experience had larger herds than those with less experience (2.6 ± 2.8 vs. 1.9 ± 1. 2) and farmers who grazed their animals tended to have larger herds than those that stall-fed their animals (4.4 ± 5.1 vs. 1.9 ± 1.3). Average milk production was 8.2 ± 6.5 l per cow per day. Higher average daily milk production was observed in farmers with above primary school education (10.3 ± 8.3 vs. 7.7 ± 5.6), those with dairy farming as main activity (9.3 ± 6.6 vs. 6. 5 ± 6.1) and farmers with more than 2 years of experience in dairy farming (9.3 ± 6.3 vs. 6.1 ± 6.4). Unreliable supply of improved animal genetics, poor animal health, feed shortage and poor prices for milk were considered to be the most important constraints to smallholder dairy farming in descending order.
- Dairy farming
- Production practices