Development of a decision support system for individual dairy farms in mixed irrigated farming systems in the Nile Delta

A. Tabana

Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


<p>The principal animal production system in Egypt is the mixed crop-livestock production system with a semi-intensive/semi-commercial orientation. The development strategies emphasized in this study contribute to the development and implementation of improved technologies.</p><p>The role and place of the livestock sector and its contribution to the national economy, as well as the development of external trade in milk and dairy products in the past 10 years were studied. The potential for dairy improvement is discussed and it is concluded that rapid population growth along with social and economic changes will further increase the demand for animal products. The traditional mixed farming systems were studied in detail. As part of these studies, on-farm and on-station experiments on animal nutrition and feed utilisation were conducted. Additionally a computerised model of the mixed crop-dairy farming systems was developed to help decision-makers at farm level to obtain an optimal cropping plan and feeding system with maximum income.</p><p>The farm management information system was developed in the context of a mixed farming system in the northern part of Egypt. An identification and description of the management practices of both crop and dairy sub-systems resulted in a better understanding of the dairy farming systems and established the boundaries of the components that are used as the base for modelling the whole farming system. The constraints of the systems were also identified with special attention for feeds and feeding. Finally, this information was used to design and perform nutritional studies, which along with other information was was used to develop a decision support system for crop-dairy mixed farms.</p><p>One hundred and fifty five samples of maize silages made on-farm were taken to be nutritionally chracterised through visual inspection as well as on the basis of chemical composition. Good quality silages were obtained, indicating adequate preservation for all silages. The highest qualities corresponded to whole-plant maize (without removing ears), ensiled at an average age of 108 days, after 17 days of fermentation, and, up to a 45 days off-take feeding period (after opening of the silo). Variety and type of chopper used in this study, had no significant effect on silage quality. The final conclusion is that, small farmers easily adopted silage-making as an intervention as indicated by the quality of maize silage produced on-farm.</p><p>The quality of four feedstuffs: berseem (Trifolium alexandrinum), rice straw, a concentrate mixture and maize silage were investigated in two direct and three indirect metabolism trials with sheep. Under the conditions prevailing in Egypt, the fermentation process of maize silage reached an acceptable range (indicated by the fermentation products) after 16 days of ensiling. Maize silage had neither negative nor positive effects when fed with berseem. Feeding berseem with maize silage increased total DM intake and improved the energy/protein ratio (64%TDN and 12% CP) which would allow a medium level of milk production.</p><p>Eleven different combinations (scenarios) of the four feedstuffs were designed to assess the nutritional feasibility of 9 milk production levels. The scenarios aimed to satisfy the nutritional constraints and to minimize the feeding costs of the 9 milk production levels. Sensitivity analyses of the effects of changes in milk price, land rental and labor wages on the margin over feeding costs were performed.</p><p>With regard to the acceptability of maize silage by farmers, the study demonstrated the easy introduction of maize silage, the farmers awareness and the role of extension, the response to other new technologies with maize silage, the farmer's point of view and finally, the constraints of making maize silage in the study area.</p><p>The financial analysis showed that feed mixtures with maize silage would reduce feed costs compared with mixtures without maize silage. This conclusion not only holds at present price levels for land rental and labor, but also for prices that are till 100% above present levels.</p><p>Farmers in the project area have quickly recognized the advantage of adding maize silage to the diet of their dairy animals. Their observations focus on higher production levels and lower production costs, which is in line with the step-wise analysis of nutritional and financial aspects by the researchers.</p><p>Maize silage was well introduced by the extension staff and widely adopted once farmers had recognised its advantages.</p>
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Tamminga, S., Promotor
  • van Keulen, H., Promotor
  • Gomaa, I., Promotor, External person
Award date13 Jun 2000
Place of PublicationS.l.
Print ISBNs9789058082459
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • livestock
  • dairy farming
  • crops
  • Egypt
  • irrigation


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