India is one of the largest producers of milk in the world. Dairy farming in India is a highly profitable industry and one that has been around for a long time. It provides an excellent economical stability to many farmers who depend on dairy farming for their livelihood. Dairy farming requires a lot of hard work and maintenance of the farm and the farm animals.
There is a humongous demand for milk and milk products all over the world and in India too. The demand is ever increasing, and hence supply must be met accordingly to meet the demand. Milk is a perishable product and hence proper farming practices must be in place to ensure safe farming, preservation and delivery of milk and milk products to the consumer.
Usually, the milk is obtained from the farms and transported to cities and villages to reach consumers. Commercial milk production usually requires preservation of milk and for this purpose, preservatives are added to milk to sustain it for a few days. Milk is available to the consumer in packets, tetra packs, and cartons. All these contain preservatives. Milk is delivered to the end consumers by the milkman who charges the consumer a monthly milk fee and an additional delivery fee.
Organic milk is gaining immense popularity in India as it is across the world. Organic farming practices do not add any preservative and therefore must be consumed quickly. The cows on the farm are grown and bred organically by providing them organic feed as well. Organic milk is a lot more expensive as compared to the regular milk available in the market.
Breeding cows and maintaining their health at the same is an important and difficult task to carry out and one that requires a lot of patience and commitment. There is professional training available for aspiring dairy farmers in the form of professional degrees from universities that offer related courses. Dairy farms require cows or buffalos to be healthy and good healthy bred. Choose the right breed before you get completely involved. Cows are available @ 1500 – 2000 Rs per liter of milk a day. Cows breed well-producing calves in just over a year’s time.
Some commonly found breeds are Murrah, Surti, Mehasani, Jaffrabadi, and Nali – Ravi and Badhawari. The indigenous milch breeds of cattle are Gir, Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Tharparkar. The exotic breeds of cattle are Holstein Friesian, Jersey and Brown Swiss. A regular farm contains a minimum of 20 animals including 50% each of cows and buffaloes. The number can go up to 100 depending on your capacity.
The minimum requirements for space per animal should be 40 sq ft in the shed and 80 sq ft open space. Besides, you will also need a room for keeping implements, a room for milk storage, water tank to store minimum 2000 liters, a bore well with the capacity to fill the water tank in 1 hr. The total land requirement for a unit of 20 animals can be sited at 3000 sq ft. There should be space for expansion. Ideal space requirement for 100 animals is 13,000 to 15,000 sq ft. For 20 animals initially, you can make contractual arrangements for getting an assured supply of 300 kg of Lucerne and 400 kg of maize fodder per day. However, in the long run, as the strength of your farm will go up to 100 animals, it is advisable that you should go for a leased land of 15 to 20 acres with irrigation facility to cultivate green fodder for your animals.
The strength of laborers on the farm depends on the number of animals on the farm. The animals must be well taken care of and be protected from other wild animals. Their health must be taken care of as well by having a Veterinary Doctor around on call along with all the necessary nutrients, vaccinations, medications required, etc. Animals must be well ventilated and cleaned regularly. Their feed/fodder must always be available and in good condition. The place must be cleaned to ensure good health and hygiene for the animals.
Any capital investments required including marketing costs required must be considered before embarking on the actual task of farming. Contact your local breeders to know more about dairy farming. There are a lot of dairy farmers for whom it is a family business and they are experts in the field. Ensure you consider sustainability as well before starting. Animals require a certain temperature to breed well and be healthy. Ensure these conditions are met. The ideal temperature for dairy animals is about 15 – 27 °C. High humidity and high temperatures provide stress to the animals.
Fodder such as maize, bajra, jowar, cowpea, oats, etc. is provided as feed. Tick infestation is a huge problem with these animals and care must be taken to keep ticks at bay. Find out the exact weight and age for cows to breed and track their breeding rate and time. Do consider how you will preserve the milk that is obtained and provide to the market. Milking can be done manually or using machines.
Advantages of dairy farming –
Dairy farming is eco-friendly and does not cause environmental pollution as compared to other industries.
The requirement of skilled labor is relatively less.
The dairy product market is active around the year.
The minimum investment is required on inventory.
The entire establishment can be shifted to a new location if the need arises.
One can ensure animals, and there is less energy requirement. Biogas plant fed with cow dung can supply maximum energy to meet farms day to day requirement. A decomposed slurry of such plant can also be effectively used as organic manure. The economic life of buffaloes is 5 – 6 lactation and that of Crossbreed cows is 6 – 7 lactation.
While discussing advantages, there are some advantages between cows and buffalos as well, such as fat percentage in cow milk is lesser than that of buffaloes. Buffalo milk has more demand, especially when considering making butter or ghee. Buffaloes can easily be maintained on fibrous crop residues.