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Commercial Dairying in India - part 2

By DR. Venkatramana Hegde, Hosagadde, Director, Shramajeevi Television Pvt. Ltd. Bengaluru

Introduction

Dear readers, we have studied many issues like opportunities for dairy farming, breeds of cows and buffalos, dairy management, production of clean milk etc. in the first part of this article. The second part will cover fodder species, varieties and their cultivation, silage making, production of cattle feed on the farm, diseases of dairy animals, dairy machineries and equipment etc. in detail.

Milk for home use and manure for crops was the simple reason for keeping dairy animals from centuries in sustainable farming system. But now the milk production gained commercial importance due to the uncertainty of income from crop production. Unlike other agricultural products milk gets assured price and year round demand. However, dairy is also facing many problems in recent years. Price for the milk is not going up matching to the price hike for cattle feed and other inputs. Income generated by selling milk is spent entirely for feeding the animal itself. Overdependence on ready cattle feed has created this situation. Milk production and productivity has come down by ignoring green grass and leguminous fodder. Even today many traditional farmers depend entirely on paddy straw to feed their dairy animals. This affects both milk yield and the health of the animal. Realizing this mistake fodder cultivation is given necessary importance in planning new dairy projects now.

Dairy animal needs food 2.5 to 3.5% of its body weight. In other words, a buffalo needs 30 kilograms and cow needs 25 kilograms of food including concentrates. It should have 60% wet and 40% dry fodder. Out of total green-wet fodder 25% must be from leguminous species and 75% from monocot grasses. Dry fodder is a must even if we have surplus of green fodder. Feeding only green will affect the growth of the animal and yield and quality of milk. Do not use paddy straw as dry fodder. The oxalic acid content in it will deplete the calcium from the body of the animal. Finger millet and sorghum stubbles, wheat straw, dicot gram herbage etc. are the best fodders. Among monocot green grasses Napier-Bajra hybrids, pearl millet, fodder maize, Guinea grass, perennial sorghum, Rhodes grass etc. are the important ones. Proteinecious legume includes fodder cowpea, sun hemp, horse gram, lucerne, hedge lucerne, Stylozanthus, Azolla etc. Apart from these tree fodders like Subabul, Gliricidia, Sesbenia, Caliyandra, Coral tree, Ficus, mulberry, jack fruit, Bauhinia, Melia etc. are the useful ones.

Feed and Fodder management

Provide enough fodder only twice a day, that is in the morning and evening. Feeding throughout the day will affect mastication and the digestion will not be proper leading to the wastage of the food. This affects the growth as well as milk yield. Chop both green and dry fodder to half inch length before feeding. Otherwise the animal will eat only leaves leaving behind the nutritious stem portion. Provide concentrated cattle feed depending on the quality of fodder given. If both green grass and legumes are fed less quantity of cattle feed is sufficient. Normally production of 1 liter of milk needs 500 grams of balanced cattle feed. Of course the pregnant animal needs 1 kilogram extra. Put 100 grams of mineral mixture also. Apart from these give 50 grams each of calcium powder and common salt per animal per day in heavy rainfall areas. Normally the feed mixture is soaked in the water for 12 hours and fed. Few farmers soak the feed in boiling water for 2 hours before feeding. This facilitates easy digestion and minimizes fungal contaminants.

Cattle feeds of many brands of different qualities are available in the open market. But the cost of this will not work-out for bigger dairies. Instead feed mixture is prepared on the farm itself by mixing ingredients of good quality. This assures nutrient content with less cost. Moisture content of the feed mixture should not be too much. Otherwise the fungal contaminants may grow affecting the health of the animal. Hence feed mixture is prepared once in a week in big dairies and once in a month in smaller dairies. Let the ingredients be like this- broken cereal grains- 45%, rice or wheat bran- 30%, oilseed cake- 20%, mineral mixture- 2%, urea- 1% and common salt- 2%. This is a general formula. Buffalo needs additional oilseed cake since the fat content of the milk is more. Maize, sorghum, pearl millet, finger millet, little millet, foxtail millet etc. are used as the source of carbohydrate. Seed cakes of ground nut, cotton, soya bean, sunflower, dicot gram waste, bran, fish powder etc. are the good source of protein. The grains may differ from area to area and season to season depending on the availability and market rate. But do not alter the proportion of carbohydrate, fat and protein. Feed having bypass protein is still better. Few dairies use barley husk brought from wine factories. Food alone constitutes 70% of the operational cost of a dairy farm. Hence calculative feed management will bring more profit.

Fodder Grasses

Now it is the time to learn more about green fodder. Most of the fodder species are rain fed crops. But irrigation is necessary for higher and continues fodder yield. We can preserve green fodder in the form of silage in the rainy season when it is in surplus. However most of the dairies use fresh green fodder itself even though the silage has many advantages. Now there are many high yielding and good quality fodder crops and varieties. The good fodder grass should be smooth enough and without much hairs. Wide leaf blade and less stem portion are preferred. It should not become coarse even if the harvesting is delayed. It should not have negative substances like oxalic acid. Once planted should give good fodder yield for 3 to 4 years. Hybrid Napier stands first by considering all these criteria. It is the hybrid of Elephant grass for higher yield and Bajra for better quality. It gives highest yield with good manuring and irrigation. But it cannot survive in dry land. Oxalic acid is present up to 6 weeks of growth. It is necessary to chop it before feeding due to the thick stem. Hybrid Napier is not useful as dry fodder. It produces no seed. Hence it is multiplied by stem cuttings or root slips. NB hybrid grass is equally suitable for silage making also.

Napier-Bajra (NB) Hybrids

Yashwant Napier is another popular grass variety. Planting once will give good yield for 5 years. It grows to a height of 8 to 10 feet and comes to harvest once in 60 days. Many farmers do not give any manure or fertilizer. Instead cow dung slurry, urine and water from shed washing are given. Few farmers give top dressing dose of urea after each harvest. This Yashwant Napier can produce 40 tons of green fodder per acre per year.

CO-1 is another perennial, multi cut NB hybrid. 16,000 root slips are necessary for 1 acre. Give inter row spacing of 2 feet. It comes for harvest once in 45 to 50 days. Irrigated crop gives 6 to 8 cutting and 40 tons of green fodder per year. Harvesting at half feet height above the ground will facilitate good regrowth by tillering. CO-1 can be identified easily by its light yellow ear-heads.

CO-3 is the parrot green grass variety. Another popular NB hybrid liked by the farmers is CO-4. Dark green colour, broad leaf blade and thick stem make it easy for identification. It grows to a height of 6 to 8 feet and available for harvest once in 45 to 50 days. Putting slurry or urea after each harvest gives excellent growth. Irrigate once in 15 days. The yield potential of CO-4 variety is 45 to 50 tons per acre.

Another popular NB hybrid is BH-18. Plough the land thoroughly and plant the root slips with an inter row spacing of 2 feet. Regular irrigation and manuring will bring 6 to 8 harvests per year. BH-18 grows to a height of 8 to 10 feet and gives 40 tons of green fodder per acre. This variety can be identified by purple colored ear heads and light red colored stems.

APBN or Andhra Pradesh Bajra Napier hybrid is another variety grown widely. 16,000 root slips are necessary for 1 acre. Plough the land thoroughly with sufficient organic manure. Give a spacing of 2x2 feet. Irrigate once in 15 days. It grows to a height of 8 to 10 feet and produces 45 tons of fodder per acre per year. The stem of APBN variety is very soft. Likewise, many Napier-Bajra hybrids are found in different parts of India. Most of them are similar in basic nature, fodder quality and yield with slight differences. Now a day these NB hybrids have become compulsory to fulfill the fodder needs of commercial dairies.

Guinea grass

Guinea grass grows very well even under partial shades of the plantations. Guinea has 3 major varieties. Guinea hemil is the popular one. This grass has a substance which improves milk yield. Guinea grass is comparatively small in size, but gives 30 tons fodder per acre per year. Sheep and goat like this grass very much. 5 to 6 kilograms of seed is necessary for 1 acre. It can be multiplied even by root slips. Sow the seeds in the seed beds and plant the seedlings of 25 to 30 days in the main field. Otherwise sow the seeds directly. Leaf portion is more than the stem. Hence feeding without chopping is possible.

Perennial Multi-cut Sorghum

It is a hybrid between Sudan grass and sorghum. This being a drought tolerant species survives even in severe dry condition and gives out new flush again in the rainy season. It has thin stem and the leaf portion is more. This multi-cut sorghum is multiplied by seeds and regrowth is by tillers. It needs 15 to 20 kilograms of seed per acre. Give an inter row spacing of 2 feet. Harvest the crop at milk grain stage. Keep 2 to 3 inches of the stem on ground to facilitate regrowth. This grass is useful as green or dry fodder and also for silage making. We get 3 to 4 harvests per year and 15 tons of green fodder per harvest per acre. Irrigated crop gives better yield even though it is a rain fed grass species.

Fodder maize

African Tall is the popular variety of fodder maize which grows to a height of 8 to 10 feet. Plough the land thoroughly with sufficient organic manure. Sow the seeds in rows with an inter row spacing of 1 feet. It needs 25 kilograms of seed per acre. Cultivation of fodder maize is possible throughout the year under irrigation. This is a palatable and smooth fodder. However, the stem is very thick and needs chopping before feeding. It becomes coarse if not harvested within 90 days. Each crop gives 20 tons of fodder per acre. Fodder maize improves milk yield.

Rhodes grass

Rhodes grass is a preferred fodder for stall fed goat and sheep. It is useful even as dry fodder. Goat feeding on Rhodes grass conceives early and gives more milk. It has more calcium which strengthens the bones. Hence the calves grow fast. Rhodes grass is specially used for race horses and bulls maintained for semen collection. 5 kilograms of seed is necessary for one acre. It is multiplied by root slips also. In addition, it roots at nodes and spreads to adjacent area. It grows to a height of 6 to 8 feet and available for harvest once in 40 days. There are 2-3 varieties in this Rhodes grass.

Para grass

Para grass has hairs on leaves and stem. But it is no way inferior in nutrients than other species. Normally it is not cultivated on the farm. It is seen growing along the sewage canals of big cities. This is the main fodder for the animals reared in cities. The stem of the Para grass is very soft. It is liked very much by buffalos.

Basically most of the fodder species are rain fed grasses. However, we get higher yield round the year with regular irrigation and application of organic manures and fertilizers. The general fertilizer recommendation for these fodder grasses is 40 kilograms of nitrogen, 30 kilograms of phosphorus and 16 kilograms of potash per acre. Apply half of the recommended nitrogen as basal doze and remaining half as top dressing after harvest. Most of the dairies use dung, slurry and urine available in plenty on their farm. Water from the cattle shed washing is flooded to the fodder crop. Green fodder in 1 acre can feed 8 to 10 big animals.

Leguminous Fodders

Sun hemp

Sun hemp is popular both for fodder and green manuring. It is commonly grown with the residual moisture of the paddy field after harvest. This being a leguminous plant has more protein and improves soil fertility by nitrogen fixation. It needs 15 to 20 kilograms of seed per acre. No necessity of top dressing fertilizer. Harvest the crop at 35 to 40 day stage and use it as green or dry fodder. Do not feed this to the animals after flowering since it has a negative substance called HCN. Harvest at 1 foot above the ground to facilitate regrowth. Sun hemp is a proteinecious and palatable fodder good for goat and sheep also.

Lucerne

Lucerne is a soft and nutritious fodder with 15 to 22% of protein. Feeding lucerne will overcome the problem of pregnancy failure in dairy animals. Prolactin content in this plant improves milk yield. This is an irrigated crop. 2 to 3 kilograms of seed is necessary for 1 acre. Seed germinates only in winter. The crop once sown gives good fodder yield for 2 to 3 years. It comes for harvest once in 20 days so that 8 to 10 harvest is possible per year. Well drained soil is necessary. It will not come up well in acidic soil. Lucerne is equally suitable for leaf meal production also.

Hedge Lucerne

Hedge Lucerne is another leguminous plant grown normally on hedge or fence. Seed treatment with hot water is necessary for better germination. Crop sown once gives good yield for 7 to 8 years. It grows to a height of 7 to 8 feet and gets ready for harvest once in 35 to 40 days. It withstands repeated harvest. Hedge lucerne with high amount of protein is equally good as dry fodder also. Sheep and goat like this very much.

 

Stylozanthus species

Another important leguminous fodder is Stylozanthus. It grows very well in waste lands and improves the soil fertility by nitrogen fixation. It is most suitable for soil and water conservation as a mulch crop and a good species for bund stabilization. Stylozanthus hemata is more popular than 3 other regular species of the genus. It grows very well in competition with the weeds and suppresses them. It spreads to the whole area by self-seeding. 2 to 3 kilograms of seed is necessary for 1 acre. Maximum germination is up to 40%. The small seed will not germinate if sown deeper than half a centimeter. For better germination put the seed in boiling water for 10 minutes, drain, dry under shade and sow. Stylozanthus with 18 to 22% protein is equally suitable for leaf meal production. It is available for harvest 4 to 5 times a year. This is very popular in pastures with grass species. The sticky substance oozing out from its leaves has anti-tick property. Hence the animal grazing on Stylozanthus will not have ticks.

 

Velvet bean creeper

Velvet bean is a very popular creeper grown as cover crop in coconut, areca nut and rubber plantations. It minimizes soil erosion and enriches the soil by nitrogen fixation. Seed dibbled in June gives 2 harvests of herbage in September-October. It is rich in nutrients even though the volume is less. Velvet been creeper climbing on a tree will give 4 to 5 kilograms of seed which can be fed to the animals like cattle feed. We can feed 1 to 2 kilograms of this per animal per day. Growing velvet been with fodder sorghum is also in practice. All these leguminous crops need less nitrogen since they fix it from the atmosphere. However, it needs more phosphorus for better nitrogen fixation. Hence the general fertilizer recommendation is 8 kilograms of nitrogen, 32 kilograms of phosphorus and 16 kilograms of potash per acre.

Azolla

Another important proteinecious fodder is Azolla. This aquatic plant hosts blue green algae called Anabaena on the edges of the leaves which fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Growing Azolla in paddy fields for green manuring is a popular practice. This is an excellent proteinecious fodder also. It is cultivated successfully in water tanks with 1-foot depth. Add cow dung to the tank as food for Azolla. Partial shade is also necessary for its good growth. It multiplies and spreads very fast even if a portion of it is taken out every day. Collect it from the pond, wash with clean water, mix it with cattle feed and feed to the animals. Azolla may be fed to an animal 2 to 3 kilograms a day. It improves the milk yield and brings down the dependence on the cattle feed. Changing of water in the tank once in a month is advised. People without sufficient space for fodder cultivation can go for Azolla. However, Azolla is not yet popular in commercial dairies. Even the poultry birds like feeding Azolla.

Leguminous Fodders Trees

Normally the field fodder crops produce lower yield in hot summer. Situation will be still worse in drought years. Perennial tree fodders can compensate this shortage. Hence it is advised to grow leguminous fodder bushes and trees along the fence, on the bunds and in barren portions of the farm. These deep rooted plants can give fodder round the year without irrigation.

Subabul

Subabul was introduced to India in 80s. This is the most popular and the best tree fodder. Subabul is an agroforestry tree species best suited even for green manuring, firewood and wood pulp for the industry. It comes up well in low rainfall areas and grows very slow in heavy rainfall areas. Herbage from the big Subabul tree has a negative substance called Mimocine which may create problems in pregnant animals. Hence keep on lopping the plant at 5 to 6 feet for fodder. It withstands repeated lopping. Harvest the branches before flowering. Otherwise it may grow like a weed on the farm by self-seeding. Subabul is suitable for leaf meal production also.

Caliyandra

Caliyandra is a leguminous plant species from Indonesia. This is useful for fodder, green manuring and firewood. Caliyandra is a soft, palatable and proteinecious fodder. It is multiplied by seeds. It withstands repeated lopping and is available for cutting 3 to 4 times a year. However continuous feeding of Caliyandra on large scale will create infertility in dairy animals. Hence restrict it to 5 kilograms per animal per day.

Gliricidia

Gliricidia is another common leguminous fodder rich in protein. It is seen growing along the fences and bunds of the farms. The stem is thick and hard which needs chopping before feeding. Gliricidia just cut has some bad odor disliked by the animals. Hence wilt it for some time and feed. It needs few days for the animal to like feeding Gliricidia.

Sesbenia

Sesbenia is another proteinecious and palatable fodder. This is popular as a support and shade plant for betel vines and also as wind breaker in banana plantations. It withstands repeated lopping and gives out good regrowth. Regular irrigation gives higher yield of biomass.

Mulberry

Mulberry is also a popular green fodder in its traditional belts. Stem is hard and chopping is necessary before feeding. However continuous feeding of mulberry on a large scale will lead to infertility and low milk yield. Hence restrict it to 2 to 3 kilograms per animal per day.

Traditional Fodder Trees

Traditionally there are many tree fodders in use for sheep and goat. Bauhinia is one among them. This will not produce seeds. Multiplication is by planting stem cuttings. Likewise, Rain tree an avenue tree planted on the roadside is also a good leguminous fodder species. Buffalos like the tender leaves of this rain tree very much. Abundantly available pods of this tree can also be fed to the animals. Melia is another popular fodder tree in the villages. Tender leaves and fruits are given to sheep, goat and other cattle. It withstands repeated lopping. This popular agroforestry tree grows very fast. Apart from these jack fruit is one more nutritious fodder. Leaves, tender fruits and ripen fruits may be fed on a small scale. Likewise, herbage and fruits of fig is also in use as fodder. 5 kilograms of tree fodder is recommended per animal per day.

In traditional areca nut area leaf sheath is used as fodder. It is chopped, dried and fed to the animals. Farmers experience indicates the improvement of milk fat by feeding areca nut leaf sheath. However, feeding the wet sheath may create problems in mastication since it has a thin upper layer like plastic. Likewise, cocoa farmers feed cocoa fruit rind to the dairy animals after extracting the beans inside.

We can conclude that without using green-nutritious-monocot and di-cot fodders dairying cannot be a viable profession. Fodder crops play a vital role in the successful continuation of dairy units despite the sharp price hike of cattle feeds.

Silage making

Even though silage is an excellent method of fodder preservation it is seen only in stall fed goat and sheep farms in India. Silage making is the systematic and scientific method of preservation of nutritious green fodder with sufficient sugar content. Regular yellow maize is grown for this purpose on commercial farms. Otherwise any fodder species with high sugar content like fodder sorghum varieties SSV-73; PVK-01 etc. are also good for silage. Even the green fodders like CO-1, AP-01, Guinea etc. may be utilized for the purpose. But we need to add 2 kilograms of Jaggary or molasses per ton of fodder since the sugar content is less. Growth of useful microorganisms and fermentation of the fodder needs comfortable sugar content. However, the silage from these green fodder grasses will be slightly inferior in quality due to absence of grains.

Big farmers producing silage grow yellow maize of regular variety for the purpose. The crop is harvested with cobs at 85 days when the milk grain stage is just over. Few farmers construct stone chambers above the ground for silage making. For small scale production even the plastic barrels are in use. Making silage in the pit is common in India. It is better to put granite slabs for the walls to prevent rats and mice entering the pit. However, mud pit lined with thick plastic sheet is also seen. Plastic is necessary even if it has granite wall to prevent rainwater and air entering the silo pit and to avoid drying of the silage. Technically speaking silage making is the process of anaerobic fermentation of green fodder. So the silage gets spoiled if the air enters the silo pit.

Whichever may be the fodder variety, harvest the crop with the grains. Chop the fodder in the cutter machine to quarter inch length. It is made to fall in the pit directly. Adding leguminous fodder to this will enrich the nutritional value of the silage. Put 150 liters of water in a barrel and dissolve 20 kilograms of molasses. Take 50 liters of water in another tub. Add 250 grams of silage microorganism culture to it. This culture is available with few private laboratories. 1 kilogram of this culture costs about INR 15,000 and is sufficient for 100 tons of silage. This is most important for better fermentation and easy digestion of the silage. Now pour the culture solution in to the barrel containing molasses water and mix it thoroughly. Spray this solution at the rate of 10 liters per ton of chopped fodder. 1 kilogram of common salt per ton of fodder is also added.

Complete the filling of a silo pit on the same day. Do not continue the work for next day. Compact the chopped fodder falling in to the pit at each layer by trampling by clean bare feet. This is necessary to take out air in between. Cover the whole mass in the pit by plastic sheet after the completion of filling of the fodder. Place stones or sand bags as weight on the silo pit. A pit having 20 tons of fodder needs 5 tons of weight on the top. Provide roofing to the silo pit to prevent rainwater entering inside. Avoid rats and mice burrowing the pit. Otherwise it leads to aeration and development of insect larvae inside spoiling the silage. The fodder turns in to silage in 15 days and gets ready for feeding. Silage keeps good for 2 years. Size of chopping, amount of trampling, the weight put on the pit etc. decide the quality of the silage produced. Silage is a nutritious, palatable wet fodder for cows, buffalos, sheep and goat.

1 cubic foot volume of the silo pit holds 12 to 15 kilograms of silage. It is difficult to take out the silage if the depth of the silo pit is more. Do not take out entire plastic cover and weight while getting the silage for feeding. Instead exhaust 1 or 2 feet width from top to bottom. If the maize is cut with cobs silage will have about 10% grains by weight. Hence the animals feeding this silage need less cattle feed. Animals can digest the silage even if they eat more. Silage making brings down daily labour requirement for fodder management. Silage has more available nutrients than the same green fodder. In spite of all these advantages silage is not yet very popular among dairy farmers of India.

Complete Feed Block

National Institute of Animal Nutrition and Physiology (NIANP), Bangalore has developed a technology called Complete Feed Block. It is to prepare feed blocks from a mixture of dry fodder and cattle feed mixed in required proportion. Fodder may be straw, any crop residue or dry leaves of fodder trees. For cattle with an average milk yield feed block is prepared with 60% dry fodder and 40% concentrated cattle feed. Add molasses 7 to 10% by weight of the total material used to keep the block intact. For using green grass or leaves, dry them under shade before mixing. Otherwise the block may be spoiled by fungal infection. The mixture is filled in the box of the hydraulic machine and subjected to 3000 to 4000 PSI pressure. This complete feed block remains unspoiled for 1 year if stored in dry place. The animals like this feed block due to its palatability. 4 to 5 feed blocks may be fed to a big animal per day. This machine runs with 7 HP 3 phase electric motor. It costs about half a million Indian rupees. However, this being a manually operated machine can produce hardly 25 to 35 blocks per hour. This machine may be established in Dairy societies for community usage. Feeding this block increases food intake of the animal. And hence the body growth and milk yield goes up. Complete feed block reduces the space needed for fodder storage. It makes transportation less bulky and easy.

Dairy Machineries

Milking machine

The most important dairy machinery is motorized milking machine. Manual equipment of the same type is also available. But it needs continuous manual work and it is not suitable for bigger dairies. Powered milking machine runs with 1.5 HP single phase electric compressor. There are different models with which one can milk with 1, 2, 3 or 4 milking cans simultaneously. It is better to keep oil engine or an electricity generator to run the milking machine at the time of power cut. The vacuum generated by the compressor is available along the length of the cattle shed through an airtight PVC pipe line. This pipe has Ts and cocks at regular intervals to facilitate attaching milking cans. When the cock is opened the vacuum gets connected with this airtight milking can. Clean the udder of the cow as usual. Put the milking tubes to the teats. It fits and holds itself firmly due to vacuum. These milking tubes press the teats and take the milk out, but not by sucking. The milk flows to the can through the transparent plastic tube which can be seen clearly from outside. Hold the milking tubes pulled down gently when the milk flow recedes. It takes out leftover milk in the udder. Delay in detaching the tubes will not create any problem. The blood will never come out as innocent farmer suspects.

Single person can milk with 2 can machine. Working with bigger machine milking 4 cows at a time needs 2 people. We can milk 8 cows with 10 to 12 liters of milk with 1 can in one hour comfortably. This machine completes milking in the specified time of 6 to 7 minutes from an animal with any amount of milk. This increases the milk yield by 10%. There will be no pressure or damage to the udder muscles with machine milking. Clean and complete milking prevents the chance of mastitis disease. Milk remains unspoiled for 2-3 hours as the air contact of the milk is less. Clean all these tubes and the cans after every milking by sucking hot water. Clean them again by using soap powder and cold water. Any negligence in this cleaning will spoil the milk of next milking. The spare parts of this milking machine are quite durable. However, we need to replace the milking tube cluster once in 2 years which costs around INR 1500. This milking machine is hardly seen in buffalo dairies even though it is equally suitable for buffalos. Compressor and one milking can set costs about INR 70,000. Each additional set of can and its accessories costs INR 35,000. We can conclude that this electric milking machine is quite essential for timely, clean and easy milking in commercial dairies. Its contribution is quite evident in the success of the dairy units.

Fodder chopper and Compressor

Another important machine of the dairy is fodder chopping machine. Farmers were using manual equipment earlier. Now we have many models of this motorized machine of various capacities. Bigger dairies use diesel engine fodder chopping machines. It can be operated by the power from the PTO shaft of the tractor also. Fit 2 cutting blades to the fly wheel and chop the fodder in to small pieces. This enables better digestion and complete usage of the fodder.

Another important equipment of the dairy is the compressor for washing cattle shed. Water coming out with high pressure can remove dried dung and urine also. It needs less water compared to manual cleaning. Using compressor for washing the shed and for bathing of the animal eliminates ticks from the dairy. Now we find portable high pressure washers also in smaller dairies. This runs with 2 kilowatts single phase electricity. All these machines bring down the labour requirement on the dairy farm. Hence it reduces the cost of operation and makes the work easy and fast.

Biogas plant

Normally the dung available abundantly on the dairy farm is put directly in to the manure pit. It leads to the wastage of the valuable biogas in the dung. The biogas is useful for cooking, lighting and also for running a diesel engine. The slurry coming out of the biogas unit has higher amount of available nutrients than the original dung. It is wrong to imagine by the traditional farmers that it is inferior in nutrients. KVIC and Deena Bandhu are the two popular models of biogas plant. Plant with floating biogas collection drum is the KVIC model. Deena Bandhu gas plant is a permanent structure constructed underground with RCC. The cost of this plant is less and the durability is more. However, the fiber gas drum also remains perfect for 25 years. But the cost of construction is more. Off course there is no difference in the method of production of the biogas and its usage with both of these models. Most of the state governments in India provide subsidy for these biogas plants.

Many dairies produce vermi-compost to earn an additional income. This is more profitable than selling the cow dung manure directly. We find both permanent vermi-compost units as well as portable units. Vermi-compost gets ready for usage in 3 months. It sells for INR 5 to 6 per kilogram. Popularity of organic farming created good demand for vermi-compost. All these efforts generate an additional income for the dairy helping it for early and better financial stability.

Diseases of dairy animals

Mastitis

Let us study few major diseases of dairy animals now. The first one is mastitis. This bacterial disease can cause serious loss to the commercial usage of the milking animal. There are 3 major types in mastitis. The chance of this disease is more in high yielding cross bread cows. Swelling of the udder may also be accompanied by high fever. Milking gives sever pain to the cow and watery liquid or curdy milk comes out. Otherwise tiny white particles are seen in the milk. Blood mixed or rose coloured milk may also come out. The pathogen enters the udder through teat end pores in unhygienic cattle shed and also in the case of incomplete milking. The udder muscle may turn black and start decaying if immediate and correct treatment is not given. Sometimes the affected part of the udder becomes useless permanently. Treat the mastitis with a competent veterinarian. Keep the floor of the cattle shed clean and dry always to prevent mastitis. Practice clean and complete milking.

Foot and Mouth Disease or FMD

Foot and mouth is a contagious viral disease affecting all cleft hooved animals both domestic and wild. High fever is the first symptom. In milking animals milk yield drops suddenly. The animal starts putting out saliva after 2 days. Vesicles appear in mouth, tongue, gums and corners of thighs. Later on vesicles open up and become ulcers oozing blood. Hence the animal stops intake of food and water and suffers with pain. We can hear sound like chap-chap from the mouth. Wounds appear in the cleft of the hooves and maggots develop soon. In severe cases hooves may detach from the legs. Normally the animal will not die due to FMD disease. But the production drops up to 30 to 50%. Animal takes many months for the complete recovery. This contagious viral disease spreads to other animals through saliva, discharged liquids, milk and moist air. There is no specific treatment for this disease except some symptomatic treatments. Separate the affected animal from the herd. Spray 2% solution of cooking soda to the wounds of the mouth and hooves. Applying honey to the mouth will give some relief from the pain. Give soft food like cooked finger millet and molasses water twice a day. Put soft green fodder. Apply Neem oil to the wounds of the hooves to avoid maggots. Vaccinating all the animals yearly twice in January and July will prevent FMD.

Hemorrhagic Septicemia or HS

HS is a contagious deadly respiratory disease caused by bacteria. This is common in cows, buffalos, sheep and goat. Affected animal stops taking food and water suddenly and faces difficulty in breathing. Swelling of lower portion of the neck is seen. This pathogen enters the body of the animal through polluted food and water. Later on the disease spreads to the other animals of the herd. High fever and putting out of saliva is seen. In severe cases the animal may die due to breathing problem in 12 to 24 hours. Treat the affected animal immediately by a competent veterinarian. To prevent HS disease, vaccinate all the animals once in a year.

Black Quarter or BQ

Black quarter is also a deadly bacterial disease affecting the animals normally during the onset of monsoon. It mostly attacks well grown animals below 2 years of age. The pathogen enters the body of the animal through polluted food and the wounds on the body. High fever, no intake of food and water, limping and swelling of muscles of the limping leg etc. are the symptoms. Pressing of the swollen muscle will produce char-char sound. The animal at this stage will die with pain within 12 to 24 hours. Treat the animal immediately. To prevent BQ disease, vaccinate all the animals yearly once.

Brucellosis or Abortion Disease

Brucellosis is another contagious bacterial disease. It may spread to humans also by consuming raw milk from the affected animal or by the contact with the secretions of the animal. Pregnant animal affected with brucellosis will abort the calf by 6-7 months. Fetal membrane will not come out completely and starts decaying leading to the death of the animal. Separate the affected animal. Animal died due to brucellosis should be buried in a deep pit with lime powder and common salt. There is no effective medicine for the treatment of brucellosis till now. Vaccinate only the female calf against brucellosis only once in its lifetime at 6 to 9 months of its age.

Milk Fever

Milk fever is a physiological disorder affecting the cow within 72 hours of calving. High yielding aged cows, especially the Jersey cows are affected more. Depletion of high amount of calcium from the body through milk or deficiency of calcium in the food is the reason. Putting out the tongue from the mouth, getting disturbed even with little noise, loosing body balance, shivering, kicking back legs, low body temperature etc. are the symptoms of milk fever. The cow lays down on the ground with debility. In severe cases the animal enters unconsciousness and dies within few hours. Call the doctor immediately to inject the calcium liquid directly to the blood vein. Most of the animals recover instantaneously with the treatment. To avoid milk fever feed the pregnant cow with balanced nutrition and required quantity of mineral mixture. Do not milk the cow completely immediately after calving. Give 150 grams of calcium powder or 100 ml of calcium liquid through food once just after calving and once more after 12 hours.

Prevention of diseases

Treating these costly animals is also costly after it is affected by the disease. In addition, the animal will suffer with loss of growth and production. Hence vaccinate all the animals twice a year against contagious foot & mouth disease and once against HS and BQ diseases. Keep the cattle shed clean. Give clean bath daily to the animals to avoid ticks. Put deworming medicine twice a year. Maintain sufficient cross ventilation in the shed. Provide clean drinking water and feed and fodder without any fungal contamination. Leave the stall fed animals 2 hours a day for wandering in the paddock. Feed the animal with balanced cattle feed and fodder to keep it healthy. Do not bring sudden changes in the food. Keep up regular timing of various works on the dairy farm. Do not change the workers again and again. Personal cleanliness of the worker is also important. Do not frighten the animals. Maintain calmness on the dairy farm. Growing trees around the farm will keep the premises cool. Treat the animals with a competent veterinarian immediately after noticing illness. It is better and safe to provide insurance coverage to these costly animals. General insurance companies extend this facility for the animals between 3 and 12 years of age. Putting tag is compulsory for the insured animal. Normally the yearly insurance premium will be 4 to 5% of the value of the animal. The company will pay the insurance amount if the insured animal dies within the period of insurance.

First aid and Home remedies

The dairy farmer must depend on an expert veterinarian for complex health problems. However, it is better if he is aware of first aid and treatments for simple illnesses. There are many useful home remedies or ethno-veterinary practices for the purpose. Now let us list the health related materials to be kept always in a dairy farm.

1. Potassium Permanganate- put 2 tinges of this crystal to 1 liter of water and use it for washing the wounds.

2. Bleaching powder- use this to clean drinking water at the rate of 10 grams for 1000 liters. It is useful even for cleaning floor of the cattle shed.

3. Phenyl- a germicide for cleaning the shed.

4. Dettol- a germicide for cleaning the udder.

5. Turpentine oil- use this to kill maggots in the wound.

6. Iodine ointment- useful for applying to wounds.

7. Tetracycline tablets- give 2 tablets twice a day in case of fever and diarrhea.

8. Himalayan Battista- it is useful for indigestion. Put 50 grams of this powder in Jaggary/molasses and give twice a day.

9. Neem oil- apply it for skin diseases and for wounds to avoid maggots.

10. Tick insecticide- useful to kill ticks and other ecto-parasites.

11. Antibiotic ointment- useful to apply on wounds.

12. Camphor- fill the camphor powder in the wound to avoid maggots.

Dear readers, we have studied lot of issues on dairying in this article. There is one last word left. Dairying is a biological industry. We cannot consider the animal as a machine producing milk. We need to develop affection towards the cattle. We will come across many problems while managing this sensitive live stock. We have to nourish the cow properly as Goddess Laxmi along with worshipping it as Govmata. Scientific attitude, proper planning and involvement of the farmer will definitely bring success in this dairy industry. These innocent animals will never disappoint us if we manage them properly. Namaskar.