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Commercial Dairying in India - part I

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

Introduction

Animal husbandry is a part of agriculture since centuries. They cannot exist without each other. Cows and buffalos for milk, sheep and goat for meat and bullocks for farm operations are the well-known usages. Fodder generated on the farm feeds these animals. Animal husbandry has become an income generating activity only from last few decades. Earlier people used to hesitate to sell or buy milk. But later on, with the commercialization of farming farmers started selling excess milk. White revolution, which started in 80s in India could give a systematic shape for this activity. Cooperative milk societies and unions started operating across the country after the success of AMUL in Gujarat. Since then animal husbandry has become one of the main pillars of Indian agriculture and rural economy. Now a major portion of rural population earns their livelihood with animal husbandry.

Since 2000 AD India stands first in worlds milk production. Present total milk production of the country is 12,500 crore liters per annum. About 13 million families depend on dairying for their income. It is estimated that the demand for milk and milk products will double in next 10 years. Share of agriculture in Indian GDP is 12.3% of which 4.9% comes from animal husbandry alone. Growth rate of agriculture is 3% per annum, while it is 6% for animal husbandry. Milk production is increasing by 5% every year. There were 700 million cows in India in 1947. That was 1/3 of the total cattle population of the world. But now we have around 250 million cows in the country. The total worth of dairy products is around 2000 billion INR per year now. Out of total milk produced in India 55% comes from buffalos and 43% from indigenous and cross bread cows. The remaining 3% comes from sheep, goat and camels. About 70% of milk produced is sold as fresh milk and remaining 30% is sold in the form of milk powder, curd, buttermilk, butter, ghee, Khova, Panneer, Shreekhand, Lussey etc. Another major usage of animals is for agricultural activities. There are about 15 million bullock carts in India. Bullocks are widely used for ploughing even after the introduction of tractors and tillers. Apart from that around 730 million tons of cow dung is produced in the country every year. It is being used for the production of bio gas and organic manure and also as fuel directly. Extract from the cow urine is being used for medical treatments also.

Early and regular income from dairying is the main attraction. Unlike other agriculture products, milk gets assured price always. No doubt the cooperative movement has contributed a lot for the success of dairying in India. However the farmers are suffering losses in recent times due to sudden and steep price hike of cattle feeds and other inputs. The price for the milk offered by the milk cooperatives is not matching the cost of production.

Milk production in India

Milk productivity is very less in India even though it stands first in world milk production. It is just 1.5 liters per animal per day. 70% of the total milk produced comes from small farmers. There is a big gap between producer and consumer price. Hence most of the big dairies sell their milk in their own brand and get better price. Biogas production is also getting more attention and importance. Few farmers generate electricity from biogas for their farm activity at the time of power cut. Diesel engine of the generator runs with 70% biogas and 30% diesel. Few farmers keep kerosene engine to run milking machine; which runs totally on biogas after it gets started with regular fuel. Organic farming depends a lot on cow dung for nutrients. Dung is used as it is or through bio-digester. Many farmers produce vermi-compost for their own use and sell the excess quantity to generate some additional income. Cow urine is becoming popular in the form of foliar spray for micro nutrient supply and also to avoid or to control pest and diseases. If we consider all these animal husbandry is a profitable activity along with routine farming.

Most of the indigenous Indian breeds of cows and buffalos yield very less milk. So most of the farmers depend on cross bread animals for milk production now. Many organic farming advisors compel to keep indigenous cows breeds for dung and urine. They opine that the cross bread cows are not suitable for organic farming. The farmers are in confusion. In fact there is no much scientific difference between dung and urine from Indian cow breeds and cross bread cows at least for agriculture usage. We cannot find a single dairy unit producing milk on commercial scale with Indian cow breeds. Indigenous cow breed conservation movement maintains intelligent silence on milk production aspect. Milk production is the main pillar stone of the rural economy now. So avoiding cross bread cows are unwarranted and unacceptable. Whichever may be the breed of cow or buffalo maintained for milk production, the dung and the urine are equally good and acceptable for crops under organic farming.

Points for success

To become a good dairy farmer one should have keen interest, at least basic experience, commitment for the work; proper planning and more importantly love towards these innocent animals. Selection of appropriate breeds of cows and buffalos, choosing good animals, scientific and economical dairy management, balanced cattle feed, nutritious green and dry fodders, complete cleanliness, health management of animals, efficient marketing of dairy products etc. decide the success of a dairy unit. It is better to adapt mechanization for milking, shed cleaning, fodder harvest and cutting etc. to minimize labor requirement. Production of balanced cattle feed mixture on the farm, cultivation and usage of grasses and leguminous fodder species; clean drinking water for animals, clean and cool dairy premises etc. are the secrets of success of a dairy unit. This article explains all these in detail.

First let us understand the criteria for land selection for the dairy unit. Upper land with enough sunlight and sufficient air movement is preferred. Generally traditional cow sheds are without sufficient ventilation. Closed structures are seen in heavy rainfall areas. It is very difficult to maintain cleanliness and animal health in such sheds. RCC structures with sufficient height, wide space, clean ventilation is recommended. However low cost structure is sufficient in very low rainfall area. It is better if the sunlight penetrates inside the cattle shed up to 12 pm and after 4 pm. Shed is necessary for the dairy animals for day round protection, comfortable living and efficient milk production. The animals may suffer with mastitis, fever, tick infestation etc. resulting in poor milk yield if the shed is not good. Dairy should have dependable water source. Huge amount of clean water is necessary for the animals for drinking and for cleaning the shed. Shade trees are expected in the premises to maintain cool atmosphere. Animals need shade when they are let out for wandering in the paddock. It is advised to grow fodder species like Gliricidia, hibiscus, Subabul, Sesbenia etc. on the fence. It is better to have a water tank for swimming in buffalo dairy. Select the site for the dairy unit considering all these aspects.

Dairy shed construction

Let the cattle shed be spacious enough and in North-South direction in length. Here the animals face East and West. It is advised to keep 12 to 15 feet height in the middle and 8 to 10 feet on both sides. This height avoids high temperature inside. It is better to restrict the long walls to 3 feet height above the ground and put grills for the remaining portion. It is for good ventilation and penetration of sunlight. Closed atmosphere hinders the release of heat from the body of the animal. It makes the animal to feel filled stomach. This leads to low food intake and low yield. Poor ventilation increases the chance of diseases as well. In tail to tail system of keeping the animals provide 2 feet passage between the wall and the feeding trough for the movement of the worker. Let the trough be at 2 feet height above the ground. If it is on the ground animal will waste the feed and fodder by bending and lifting the neck. Keep the width of the trough for 2 feet and side edges for 1 foot. Animal needs 5 to 6 feet for standing and 1 foot for putting dung. Give additional 1 foot for the movement of the worker. All together the width of a single row will be 9 to 10 feet. A width of 4 feet is enough for an animal. If more space is provided it will soil the whole area with dung by laying down in different direction.

Rough cement floor is good in the cattle shed. Putting granite slab allows deposition of dung and urine in the joints. It may cause mastitis disease. Slope of about 1 inch is created from front to back side of the animal to facilitate free flow of urine and spilled water. It keeps the floor dry always. Provide a small-shallow drain to take out urine and water outside the shed. Cleanliness of the feeding trough is also important. Normally drinking water is given in the same trough after putting fodder and feed. This will keep the trough clean. Avoid cracks and crevices on the floor, walls, trough and corners. Otherwise it will shelter ticks and other parasites. Give smooth finishing to the walls. Scratching of the leg joints and slipping of the hooves is observed sometimes in cement floor. It is not so comfortable also for the animal while resting on the floor. So now many dairies use rubber cow mat. Normally it is 6x4 feet in dimension and 5 centimeters in in thickness. It keeps good at least for 8 to 10 years. One cow mat weighs about 35 to 45 kilograms and costs around 2500 to 3500 INR.

It is necessary to provide enough clean drinking water. In most of the dairies water is given 2 to 3 times a day. But it is not available throughout the day. If water is made to stand always it gets polluted and may affect the health of the animal. As a solution for this problem many farmers construct small water tubs along the length of the feeding trough. Bigger water tank at little more height releases equal quantity of water spent by the animal. This system works like toilet water tub. This automatic drinking water system provides clean water throughout the day. It is very important for high milk yield.

Animals are tied in a single row if they are in less number. In bigger dairies tail to tail or face to face systems are followed. Cleaning is easy in tail to tail method. Each animal gets fresh air for breathing. Feeding is easy in face to face system. But it gives scope for easy spreading of respiratory diseases. However both the methods are acceptable technically. Cleanliness in the shed is most important for good health of the animals. Collect the dung 3 to 4 times a day. Wash the shed thoroughly daily once. Give clean bath to the animals every day. It is better to use compressor or high pressure washer for the purpose which avoids ticks and other parasites. It also avoids dried dung in the cleft of the hooves. It spends less water. Otherwise use at least water with pressure from the hose pipe. Clean the floor of the shed once in a week with lime powder and brush to avoid slipping. Cleanliness in the shed avoids mastitis, hoof decay and tick menace.

Selection of Cows and Buffalos

Let us study the breeds of cows and buffalos for commercial dairying now. Indigenous breeds ware popular in all the regions of India, before white revolution. Red Sindhi, Gir, Sahiwal, Gangatiri, Deoni, Rati etc. were the popular milk breeds of cows. HF and Jersey cows were introduced for higher milk yield. Murrah, Jafrabadi, Surti and few other indigenous buffalo breeds replaced low yielding local breeds. Indian cow breeds have more disease resistance. Quality of the milk is good even though the yield is less. However, they have some unwanted characters like troubling while milking, naughty behavior, fighting each other etc. When the question of survival of the farmer comes strengthening the rural economy is more important than the conservation of indigenous breeds. Hence the exotic cross bread cows became popular. These animals are docile in nature. They have the potentiality to yield more with more food. But the milk is thin and inferior in quality compared to indigenous cow milk. These exotic breeds cannot withstand extreme climatic conditions. Disease resistance is less. However, they can perform well under good management of commercial dairies. So now we find cross bread cows everywhere. Cross bread heifers come to maturity and conceive by 15 to 18 months. We can expect first calf by 2.5 years. We can get one calf a year under proper management. These breeds can yield 3000 to 6000 liters of milk per lactation. We can milk them up to 7th month of pregnancy. In recent years buffalo dairy with Murrah breed is also common due to its easy maintenance and best quality milk. Now the indigenous breeds are restricted to the Gov Shalas of breed conservation movements and sheds of some traditional farmers. However we need bullocks of indigenous breeds only for farm operations. Cross bread oxen are not suitable for the hard work on the farm.

Selection of good milking animal of the desired breed is a key factor for the success of a dairy unit. Choose the animal of 3 to 4 years of age, 2nd or 3rd lactation with good milk yield and with docile nature. Milk yield goes on increasing in 2nd, 3rd and 4th calving. It stabilizes by 5th lactation and goes down in next lactations. Normally the animals give more milk in the morning. The cow should have feminine look on the face. Smooth and shiny hairs and skin are good. Sharp eyes should have clear vision. Body must be bigger in size on rear side than the front. Bigger stomach and stout-short legs are preferred. Tail and the hairs of the tail must be long enough to chase away the flies and mosquitos. Animal should not have abnormal size and shape. Straight, wide and level back is good. Back legs should not touch each other while walking. Big, soft and firm udder is preferred. Pendulous udder is not a good character. The blood vein leading to the udder must be thick and coiled. If it is coiled up to the udder high milk yield is assured. All 4 teats must be straight and uniform in spacing and size. Same quantity of milk is expected from all the teats and the milk stream should be thick. It should not be like spraying. Early and easy letting down of milk is a preferred characteristic. If the cow has the ancestry document, it is easy and safe for selection. The Vertex on the body of the animal has no relation with the milk yield and has no scientific base for such traditional belief. Cows and buffalos develop 2 permanent teeth by 24th to 30th month. 4 teeth appear by 36 to 42 months and 6 permanent teeth by 4 to 5 years of age. The growth of the animal comes to halt by 5 to 6 years with the development of 8 permanent teeth. Judging the age of the animal with this observation is the correct and safe method. Present market rate for a cow is INR 3000 to 3500 per liter of milk per day. The cow with female calf gets still better price. However, the market price of an animal is decided by considering all the points mentioned earlier and it varies from region to region.

Commercial milk breeds

Let us know the milk breeds and cross breeds now. Exotic cow breeds like HF and Jersey originate from cold regions of Europe. These pure breed animals find it difficult to adjust to the tropical hot climate of India. Hence their cross breeds are popular with our farmers. Maximum limit for exotic genes in these cross breeds is 62.5% according to the breeding norms of India. The cow above to that is difficult to manage. Most popular and common breed is Holstein Frisian or HF. This gives highest milk yield in the world. Huge body, skin with black and white patches is the identification characteristic. It eats more and milks more. But this HF is a sensitive cow. It cannot withstand very high temperature. Milk yield declines after 3 months of conception. The average milk yield is 15 to 40 liters per day or 5000 to 9000 liters per lactation. But the fat content is just about 3.5%. Good HF cow costs about 30 to 60,000 INR now depending on the milk yield and age. This breed has the highest demand and it is difficult to get large number of good cows for purchase anywhere.

Another popular milk breed is Jersey from Jersey islands of England. Brownish red skin, wide forehead, big eyes etc. are the breed characters. This cow with medium sized stout body adapts very well to most of Indian climatic conditions. Disease resistance is good. It can withstand more temperature compared to HF breed. Milk yield sustains even after conception. The average milk yield is about 15 to 25 liters a day. Fat content of the milk is around 4 to 4.5%. Jersey cow is preferred in small dairies since maintaining HF cow is bit difficult.

Generally, HF and Jersey pure breed cows are not preferred in India. Cross breed animals are seen everywhere. Few farmers take up cross breeding between HF and Jersey. According to them this brings more disease resistance, good milk yield of better quality. We find cross breeding of HF-Jersey with Indian breeds like Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Rati, Deoni etc. in different parts of the country. This kind of cross breeding will result in less milk yield. But the quality of the milk gets improved.

We have many popular indigenous milk breeds. Farmers keep these cows in sizable numbers even though they are not seen in commercial dairies. The milk breed Gir is from Gujarat. This is the ancient and world popular breed. There are Gir cows with 20 to 25 liters of milk per day. This is the breed exported on large scale. Another important milk breed is Red Sindhi. It originates from Sindhu river valley. It is found in large numbers in Pakistan now. Sahiwal cow originates from Sahiwala district of Pakistan. Pendulous big udder is one of the main characteristics. This is also a milk breed exported on large scale. Attractive Rati cows originate from Rajasthan. We find Rati cows with 15 liters of milk per day in Bikaner. Deoni is a popular milk breed of Karnataka. It gives 8 to 10 liters of milk per day. This breed is cross bread with HF on large scale. Even though these Indian cow breeds have the potentiality of commercial milk yield it is yet to be exploited.

Let us know the commercial milk breeds of buffalos now. Private dairy units prefer buffalos now. Cow milk cannot compete with buffalo milk in taste and fat content. Hence we find farmers keeping a buffalo for milk for their domestic use even though they have commercial cow dairy farm. Contribution of buffalos is more for the total milk production of India. Only the buffalo has the capacity to produce good amount of milk even with rough and low quality fodder. India has more than 50% worlds population of buffalos. Buffalo milk has more calcium, iron, potash and half of cholesterol compared to cow milk. Most of the local breeds of buffalo yield maximum of 2 liters of milk a day. They conceive late and give calf once in 2 to 3 years. These buffalos are cross bread with Murrah, Surti and other popular breeds to improve milk yield. Buffalos are semi domesticated animals and suspect man. It cannot adjust so easily to changes. Buffalo milk gets more demand and price in the market due to its quality. Mastitis, hoof decay and other health problems are very rare in buffalos which minimize the cost of health management. Overall management is easy on a buffalo farms. Because of all these buffalo farming is getting popularity in recent years.

Let us understand the characteristics of a model buffalo. It should have shiny soft skin. Udder must be firm and not the pendulous one. Medium sized soft teats are preferred for easy milking. Milk veins should be prominent. Body must be broader on the back side and lean in the front. Long body and more height in the back side are good. Murrah is the worlds best buffalo breed. It originates from Jind region of Haryana. This is the best breed from all angles. Deep black colored big body, curved horns, short and stout legs, big udder etc. are the identification characteristics. Disease resistance is good. It conceives late. But we can get calf once in 14 months under good management. The average milk yield is about 8 to 10 liters a day or 3000 liters per lactation. Average fat content of the milk is 7 to 8%. This milk is excellent for dairy products such as pot milk. It gives milk up to 7th month of pregnancy. The trouble for milking is less compared to local breeds. Now we find Murrah breed in most of the commercial buffalo dairies. Good Murrah buffalo costs around 65,000 to 75,000 INR in its home locations of Haryana.

Second important buffalo breed is Jafrabadi. It originates from Bhavnagar region of Gujarat. Huge body, long-flat horns drooping down on the sides of the ears, loose skin etc. are the main breed characteristics. He-buffalo with attractive forehead. Success rate of artificial insemination is less in buffalos. Hence the big dairies normally keep he-buffalo of pure breed for natural insemination. Disease resistance of this breed is bit less. Wounds are common if the floor of the shed is rough. The milk yield will not drop even after conception. It gives more milk than Murrah by consuming more food. Average milk yield is 10 to 12 liters per day or 3000 to 3500 liters per lactation. Milk fat is 8 to 9%. Huge body and some health problems discouraged the farmers to keep Jafrabadi. So we rarely find this breed.

The small buffalo breed Surti originates from Gujarat. Small and stout body, light black skin, short horns, white strip below the neck, white patch on the forehead, white color below the knees of front legs etc. are the identification characteristics. Surti buffalo needs less food. But the average milk yield is just 5 liters a day. Milk fat is 7 to 8%. It matures and conceives early. Regular estrus cycle and easy conception are its specialties. Surti buffalo is not seen in commercial dairies due to less milk yield. However this is being used on large scale for cross breading with local buffalos. Apart from these Banni, Mehasana, Niliravi and few other breeds of buffalos are seen here and there in India.

Reproduction, Pregnancy and Calving

Artificial insemination method is popular since last 2 decades. We can inseminate more number of animals with single bull in this method. The semen of required breed can be imported from other countries. It can preserved for many years under refrigeration. Artificial insemination avoids contagious sexual diseases spread by natural insemination. Cost and effort is also less. Heifer comes in to heat or estrus for the first time by 18 months in cows and by 2 years in buffalos. Do not inseminate in the first estrus itself. Take up artificial insemination in 3rd or 4th heat. Estrus cycle will be once in 19 to 21 days. Inseminate after 2 months of calving in cow and after 3 months in buffalo. Most of the animals show external symptoms of heat. Bellowing by lifting head up wards, mounting on other animals, repeated urination, low food intake, drop in milk yield etc. are the general symptoms of heat. More importantly clear shiny discharge from the vagina is seen. We have to notice the heat with this discharge in silent heat animals showing no other symptoms. Take up artificial insemination after 16 to 18 hours. Chance of conception will be less if inseminated earlier. Inseminate once again if the animal shows heat symptoms again in next 18 to 22 days.

There are many reasons failure of conception in cattle. The main reason is under nutrition. If the animal is fed with nutritious feed and fodder it will come in to estrus and conceive at right time. Protein deficiency affects the growth of the body and uterus and the ovum will not come to fertility in time. To avoid this situation feed the animal with sufficient quantity of leguminous fodder and oilseed cakes. Deficiency of vitamin A leads to debility, delayed sexual growth and maturity. Deficiency of vitamin A in pregnant animal may lead to abortion, infection in the uterus, retention of fetal membrane etc. The calf may develop blindness. To avoid this feed the animal with green grass and leguminous fodder. Deficiency of minerals leads to rough hairs, no estrus or no external symptom even if it comes in to estrus, debility, failure of conception etc. To avoid this problem put 2% mineral mixture with the cattle feed. Feed germinated horse gram one kilogram a day. Regular feeding of mineral mixture 100 grams per day to adult animal and 50 grams to heifer will avoid most of these problems. Further the animal may fail to conceive due to infection in the uterus, deficiency or imbalance of hormones etc. In such cases treat the animal with a competent veterinarian.

The animal may suffer with the problem of abortion. Diseases of uterus, severe illness, defect in the system by birth, poisonous feed, injury to uterus or the body etc. may lead to abortion. Avoid such possibilities to the pregnant animal. For hormonal problems treat the animal with an expert veterinarian. In few animals the uterus comes out during pregnancy or delivery. Debility due to poor nutrition, few types of fungus in the feed, excess slope of the ground on the backside on which the animal is kept or the diseases of urinary bladder, cervix or intestine, trouble in last delivery etc. may lead to this problem. Prevent any damage to the uterus which came out and call the doctor. He will clean the uterus, push it inside to its original position and give necessary treatment and medicines.

Feed the pregnant animal from the beginning with nutritious food. Most of the traditional farmers take care of the animal only after delivery. It is the wrong practice. Milk yield and the future of the calf depend on the nutrition during pregnancy. Pregnant animal even without milking needs 2 to 3 kilograms of cattle feed a day. Protect the pregnant animal from ticks and other parasites. Vaccinate the animal against contagious diseases before 6 months of pregnancy. Put de-worming medicine at 3, 6 and 8 month stage under the guidance of a veterinarian. Leave stall fed animal for wandering in the paddock for 2 hours a day. Provide nutritious feed, fodder and clean drinking water to the pregnant animal. A dry period or no milking period of 2 months for cows and 3 months for buffalos is necessary. The normal gestation period is 9 months and 9 days in cows and 10 month and 10 days in buffalos. Keep the record of successful insemination and calculate the date of delivery. If the delivery is delayed a lot consult an experienced veterinarian.

Keep observing the animal getting ready for delivery. Bulging of the udder and vagina is seen just few days before delivery. Teats get filled with milk and look straight. Animal will not eat properly after the delivery pain starts. Watery diarrhea may be seen in buffalo. Water jacket will come out first. Front 2 legs and the head portion of the calf will appear in the vagina after half an hour. Later on the whole body of the calf comes out. Normal total duration of the delivery process is 3 to 4 hours. If it passes 5 -6 hours call the doctor for assisted calving. Ancestral reasons, defective body structure, deficiency of nutrients, contagious diseases etc. may create problems in normal delivery. Clean the slime in the nose and the mouth of the calf to facilitate breathing. Keep the calf in front of the animal for licking. If the mother does not lick, clean the calf with cloth and smear rice or wheat bran or salt powder on the body of the calf. Then the mother licks the calf which is helpful for proper breathing of the calf. Pinching the hooves of the calf is not necessary. It will depreciate itself due to the cement flooring of the cattle shed. Put a knot to the umbilical chord at 2 inch distance from the body. Cut off rest of the portion with rust proof knife and apply tincture iodine. Keep on applying iodine for 3-4 days so that the umbilical chord dries up properly. Otherwise it may lead to swelling and umbilical hernia later.

Calf management

Colostrum should be fed to the calf within half an hour of its birth. It is very essential for the development of disease resistance. Colostrum contains plenty of proteins, vitamins and minerals and less sugar. It is not correct to say that the calf will suffer with diarrhea and worms by feeding colostrum. On the other hand the calf, if not fed with colostrum in time, will suffer with diarrhea, cold, fever and other problems and fails to develop in to a good animal. Give warm water bath to the calf after feeding milk. Do not milk high yielding-aged-just calved cow completely. It may lead to milk fever. You can milk fully from next day. In commercial dairies calf is not fed on the udder and it is not necessary also. Calf is separated from the mother immediately after birth. Train the calf to suck milk by dipping the finger in the milk bowl like this. Here we can feed the calf with required quantity of milk. Clean milk production is possible by avoiding feeding of the calf directly on the udder. The mother will lose the affection on the calf due to this separation and will not trouble even if the calf dies. We can sell the male calf at any time. As a thumb rule we have to feed the calf with milk 10% of its body weight. That means give 2 to 4 liters of milk per day up to 15 days. Feed 5 liters a day for next 2 weeks. Go on reducing the quantity of milk from 5th week. Stop feeding milk by 12th week or at 75 kilogram body weight of the calf. If the body weight is less continue giving 1 liter milk per day for few more days. Additional drinking water is not necessary for the calf for 3 weeks from its birth. Later on provide clean water to the calf.

Cross breed cows look better without horns. Fighting each other is also less with no horns. Hence remove the horn buds at 15th to 25th day stage itself. Veterinarian will burn it with caustic soda or with electric equipment. Put first dose of deworming medicine by 10th day. Later on deworm once in a month up to 1 year without fail. For adult animals deworming once in 6 months is necessary. Put different deworming medicines each time under the guidance of the doctor. Start giving cattle feed gradually to the calf by 3rd or 4th week. Most of the farmers feed the regular cattle feed itself. Instead it is better to prepare a separate mixture for the calf. Let the ingredients be like this- maize- 40%, ground nut cake- 40%, cereal bran- 10%, fish powder- 7%, mineral mixture- 2% and common salt- 1%. Add recommended dose of vitamins and antibiotics also. Feed 100 grams of this mixture per day from 3rd to 6th week, 250 grams for next 2 weeks and 500 grams for next one month. After 3 months, feed the calf with 1 kilogram of this feed mixture per day and also with nutritious green fodder. Apart from this use Vitamin A 1, B 2 and D 3, 20 grams each per day under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Vaccination and Heifer management

It is most important to put different vaccines to the calf against various contagious diseases. Put foot and mouth disease or FMD vaccine by 6th month. One more booster dose is necessary by 7th month. For adult animals FMD vaccine twice a year is compulsory before the onset of monsoon. BQ and HS vaccines are to be given to the calf between 5th and 6th month. Putting these vaccines once in a year is compulsory for adult animals. Vaccine against Tick disease or Thaileria is given at 6th month only once in its life span. Only the female calf is given vaccine against Brucellosis disease only once in its life span between 6th and 9th month.

It is not advisable to buy new animals always for the expansion of the dairy unit. It is costly and unsafe also. Instead rare the female calves of required breed born on your farm. Select good calf and nourish it in a systematic way for a good heifer and expected milk yield. Cost of developing a heifer is not too less to the cost of buying a good animal. However, we are assured of its pedigree, health and potentiality of milk yield if we rare the calf our self.

We call the female calf as heifer after 6-7 months and male calves as oxen. Heifers need more protein. Hence it is better to prepare a separate feed mixture for this. Let the ingredients be like this- broken maize- 25%, ground nut cake- 25%, cereal bran- 12%, rice bran- 20%, di-cot gram waste- 15%, Mineral mixture- 2% and Common salt- 1%. Feed 2 to 3 kilograms of this mixture per day to the heifer. Put additional 30 to 50 grams of mineral mixture also. Feed 1 kilogram of cooked, ground germinated horse gram twice a week. It enables the heifer to mature and conceive early. The doctor can confirm conception by checking after 3 months. In commercial dairies to make profit the farmer should get calf once in a year in cows and once in 1.5 years in buffalos.

Cutting the hairs on the body once in a while in buffalo calves is necessary to maintain cleanliness. Buffalos feel hotter in the summer due to their black body colour. Sprinkle cold water 2 to 3 times a day for the buffalos in hot summer. If possible provide tank facility for swimming for 2 hours a day. This improves the health and hence the milk yield. Electric fans are provided in few cow dairies for cooling in hot hours. Regular shaving of the hairs on the body is practiced for buffalos. Massage with coconut oil and Neem oil once after shaving and again once in 2 months. This avoids ticks and other external parasites.

Feed and Fodder management

Dairy animals need food 2.5 to 3.5% of their body weight every day. A big buffalo with good milk yield needs 30 kilograms of food and a cow needs 25 kilograms of food including cattle feed. The total food should have 60% dry and 40% wet portion. The green or wet fodder must have 25% leguminous herbage and 75% monocot grasses. Production of 1 liter milk needs 500 grams of balanced cattle feed. In other words a cow yielding 10 liters of milk has to get 5 kilograms of cattle feed. In addition, 100 grams of mineral mixture per animal per day is also necessary. Most of the commercial dairies do not buy ready cattle feed. Instead they mix 50% broken maize, 15 to 20% cotton seed or coconut or ground nut cake, 20% dicot gram waste and 10% wheat bran. This mixture is soaked in clean water for 12 hours. 3 kilograms of this mixture is fed to each milking animal per time. In addition 2 kilograms of Barley husk per time per animal is also fed. Buffalos get extra 1 kilogram of feed mixture. Additional 50 grams of mineral mixture and 50 grams of common salt are put per animal per day. Apart from all these the animal with more than 10 liters of milk is given 1 kilogram of Milk More special cattle feed.

Daily activities start by 3 am itself in big dairies by putting dry fodder and cattle feed. Drinking water is flood in the same feeding trough after the feed is spent. Green fodder is put after completing milking before 7am. By 9 am the animals are given bath. Later on they are let out for wandering for 2 hours which makes easy for cleaning the shed. Buffalos are sent to water tank for swimming if there is the facility. By 11am the animals are brought back to the shed and given complete rest. Animals masticate and sleep during this rest period which facilitates good digestion and better milk yield. Strangers should not wander in the cattle shed especially in buffalo dairies during this rest period. Otherwise the animals stand up and lay down spending energy leading to poor milk yield in next milking. Again dry fodder-cattle feed and water is given from 3pm. Milking starts by 4 pm. Green fodder is put by 7pm after milking is over. Then the animals take rest. It is advised to restrict putting fodder only 2 to 3 times a day. Feeding throughout the day is not a good practice which gives no time for mastication and proper digestion. Provide clean drinking water 3 to 4 times a day. A big animal needs 75 to 100 liters of water per day normally and still more in hot summer. It is estimated that the production of 1 liter of milk needs 10 liters of water. Hence water shortage for the animal will affect the milk yield.

Milking, Storage and Marketing

Most of the buffalos trouble to let down milk if the calf is not fed on the udder. Even in commercial dairies calf is let to feed its portion of milk. The buffalo troubles for few days if the calf dies. Do not change the feed, fodder, working time and people suddenly and frequently for buffalos. Let a fixed worker handle feeding, bath, milking, medication etc. for a particular buffalo to minimize the trouble. Complete and full hand milking is most important. Milking with few fingers may damage the teat muscles. The milk yield will be better if milking is completed in 7 to 8 minutes irrespective of the milk yield. Threatening the animal while milking will affect milk yield. Electric milking machine is popular now which is good for buffalo as well. But it is yet to be used on large scale in buffalo dairies. In big dairies afternoon milk is cooled to 12 to 14 centigrade temperature in precooling cattle. This keeps the milk unspoiled up to 8 pm. Big dairies sell milk directly to the consumers in packets in their own brand. These packets are kept at 4 centigrade temperature in the deep freezer till morning.

India stands first in the worlds total milk production. But most of the forward nations hesitate to buy milk and milk products from India. This is due to lack of cleanliness in the process of milk production, collection and storage. Prevailing contagious diseases like Brucellosis is another reason. Milk yield depends 40% on the breed of the animal and 60% on its management. Milk contains water, fat, protein, lactose sugar, minerals and vitamins. Solid material content of the milk excluding fat is called as solid not fat or SNF. Normally the milk contains 83 to 87% of water and 13 to 17% of SNF. Generally cow milk has 3 to 5% fat and 8 to 8.8% SNF. Buffalo milk has 6 to 9% fat and 9 to 10% SNF. The minimum acceptable quality of the milk is 3.5% fat and 8.5% SNF.

Healthy animal will give clean milk. Do not use the milk from the animal suffering with illness. The workers of the dairy should maintain their self-cleanliness. Wash the hands with soap before milking. It is better to give feeds with smell such as silage 3 hours before milking. Give clean bath to the animals every day. Wash the cattle shed once in a day and maintain proper ventilation in the shed. Clean the udder before milking. Stainless steel cans or buckets are better for milking. Milking person should not have bad habits such as chewing of tobacco, smoking etc. The worker should avoid cough, spitting, sneezing etc. while milking. Spill first two streams of milk from each teat to avoid deposited microorganisms. See that the dust and other impurities will not fall in to the milk can. Filter the milk with a clean cloth or sieve in to a clean can. Store the milk in cool place in hot summer till it is sent to the market. Clean milking is possible with the milking machine and hence the milk remains unspoiled for 2 to 3 hours.

Dear readers we have studied lots of things on dairying in detail till now. Fodder species and varieties and their cultivation, silage making, cattle feed formulation, diseases of dairy animals and their management, parasites, insurance, dairy equipment etc. are given in detail in the next part of this article. We wish you all the success in your efforts for entering dairy farming. Let us meet again in the next part of this article, Namaskar.