Usually,forgetting justification most farmers provide facilities, as per other farms or what is written in some books or internet. But we must be careful.Recommendations these guys give,not all but many,may be biased.
We must allow our animals, provisions that are justified and affordable.
Cattle are loveable creatures & Live as trained & pet. Cruelty in any form is not good.We cannot keep our cattle like in a jail, some freedom is necessary.Unless the animals live in ahealthy environment will they be capable to produce as expected? Traditional way of keeping cattle gives freedom and often gives good environment but the yield is low. Only with scientific measures we can expect maximum yield? Still more this is India. We can’t leaveour responsibility towards milk quality, culture & breed preservation. Some ethics is expected.
So let’s mix: Our Rearing Principles will be- healthy environment +freedom+scientific lines +ethics.
We must consider AGE & STAGE of our animals. What a calf, a grower, a heifer needs is quite different from a milch cow. Consider the breed the species also. Then let’s consider what will our Indian breed cattle like Gir, Sahiwal, Red Sindhi,Tharparkar need?
Cattle will need Good Environment
Good Environment means Plenty of Sunshine during cool hours of day. Open & unpolluted cool air,better if little breeze. Relative humidity & Temp is important.Humidity below 70 with@ 28° C is good.
Principle: Cow has body temperature 102°F or 39°C. So the air temperature must be sufficient below i.e. ideally 39-10 = 29°C. They can tolerate maximum 29+5=32°C for a short period.
If humidity is highTemp must be low. If temp is above 29 then humidity should be below 70. Example Temp 35°C then RH 50is OK. Please examine this chart. It’s for CB. Indian cattle tolerate more.
Shelter is a part of environment provisions.To save animals from extreme weather- hot summer day time, heavy rain & storm, winter chill nights. Use of shelter for good weather is absolutely not necessary.
It’s a mania to erect big asbestos halls for 24 hour stay. Loose house system will be quite good and less expensive. Please search the net for designs. Think how good we can use our resources. Protection from fire and outside animals like mad dogs, snakes is necessary.
Nutrition: Cattle need adequate nutrition for good production. Diet must be palatable too, otherwise they will leave somefood.People demand organic milk.That means cattle diet will not have chemicals like residues of pesticides,fertilizers, growth-promoters. Even the green fodder & dry fodder will be free of such elements. Again for maximizing milk yield quantity, and quality such as high SNF & Fat, cattle diet must provide the extra energy that will be required. More ever Diet cost the lower the better.The microbes in cow stomach will be disturbed causing impaired digestion if there is abruptchange dietary ingredients, so almost same diet throughout the year.
Let’s Sum up: cattle diet will beadequate + palatable+ chemical free+ high energy-potential+ cheap+almost same every day.
So no concentrate or mixed feed from market. No traditional grass or grazing. No paddy straw. No season dependent feed items. Then what to feed?
Based on my experience, I do not believe in balancing the feed ingredients, because ruminants have enough power to create whatever necessary utilizing whatever quality of feed is made available to them. I have seen many cows giving plenty of milk on only wheat bran (chokad), many only on crushed paddy (Kuluchi), and manyonly on maize.
The logical conclusion is tofeed Greens, improved Greens and saved Greens!
Applying our principles of healthy environment + freedom + scientific lines + ethics. Our cattle should GRAZE, have CUT CULTIVATED FODDERbrought out using farm waste and bio fertilizers.Preserved fodder such as HAY (and crop residues such as BOTI If cultivated organically).
Concentrates from organically grown crops such as crushed PADDY can be provided
For maximizing milk yield and to sustain SNF & FAT several bio-products are available. Some are organic.
Rumen un-degradable proteins, Rumen flora enhancers, Chelates of feed supplements and feed additives can safely be used to make available extra nutrients to the body and thereby increase milk quantity and quality,
Disease prevention measures : one cannot expect that cattle being living creatures will not have diseases. Our cattle will suffer from diseases. Beyond the normally expected diseases and their frequency (also morbidity and mortality rate) we have to be alert to some diseases and ill health conditions that were less known, less faced and are hard to cure.
Why? The simple reason is 1. Some exotic diseases have come from Jersey/ Holstein etc. 2. Climate warming 3. Infected pasture 4. Faulty care like keeping cows in barn for 24 hours.
Not all diseases have vaccines. But we must give available vaccines. It will not harm organic milk. But giving worm medicines will. So herbal anti-worm medicines is one way. But will all worms go? So extra step will be necessary. Some of them include sterilizing cow dung by Gobar gas plant. Segregation and not using its milk of sick. Use of Sunshine & fire. Pasture spray etc. Cleaning and sanitation.
Exercise: for at least 2 hours is a must. We can hardly provide exercise except walking. If we let for grazing the matter rests there. Hoof diseases are common, which will be less on walking. Acclimatization to weather will lead to more milk production and more heat tolerance. Practice of no-tying is good. Moving in herd lessens care & gives freedom
Care Routine Care….
Occasional care ….. To be discussed later
Written by Dr. Ranjit Dash B.V.sc & A.H. for Gir Odisha group members. Date 22.7.17