Generally people believe that those dairy farms have big cow-houses and a number of (say 10, 20,100 or so)cows standing in it, with a milk van running to the farm morning and evening must be a profitable dairy farm. People often take note of positive ones and leave the negative ones. Many aspects are ignored. Let’s discuss.
I remember Sagar’s photo of a dairy farm at Barang with 5 Gir cows, Subhasis has seen many farms in Bengluru with cow-urine plant. Sangram offered to plan for ideal cow-houses. Sambit made in-depth study. We have dairy owners like Deepak, Satish Sir & Singhdeo Sir. As such, if I point out mistakes here and there, to set a criteria for profit making farms – I think it is foolishness on my part. Still I want you all to go deeper!
It will be wrong to guess about a dairy farm, from looking at the huge infrastructures, the plenty numbers of buffaloes or cows stalled and the milk quantity being sold.
The surest way is to study the records- such as “Herd Register”, Feed Register, health Register, and bank accounts. But unfortunately we don’t find much farms, liking to get their documents scrutinized!
Alternate ways are there. As a doctor takes help of symptoms in finding a disease, we must closely observe every aspect.I would like to mention a few.
- See how many cows are there in milk. How many dry (not in milk) and how many heifers and calves. Don’t forget to see new born ones, especially 50% males . Ideally the ratio will be cows in milk: Dry=3:2.If 10 cows=Followers 10 (Heifer & growers) and new born calves 5.
- Ask about the milker. Is there hand milking or machine milking? Who else milk the cows? If the milker takes salary or purchases milk from farm. Ideally for 20 milk cows 1 milker and should be on salary with guaranteed increments.
- Are the animals panting? Are there flies sitting on them? Examine the inner temperature of cow shed and outer. If you have a humidity meter than what’s the difference between outside and inside?There shouldn’t be much difference.
- How fat or thin are the cows? Ideally milk givers should be 3.5 out of 5. (5 for a fat cow)
- Incidence of abortion, repeaters and mastitis are Redline Indicators. Ask of Brucella, and FMD vaccinations. See neck portions and buttocks to guess of frequent medications.
- See the dung. It speaks of digestion. Ideally it must be semi solid with black-green color and must not split on floor.
- The instruments used to clean the floor and disposal of dung & farm waste, the clothes of workers speak a lot.
- Are the animals getting exercise? How many hours? Do they get greens? How much? Should get at least 2 hours of roaming under sun and 10% of body weight greens.
- How many years old is the farm? 3rd generation calves must be there in the herd to speak of 10 years of farming.
- Is the owner going to sell the best cows, recently calved or the poorest ones? Cows should be culled (discarded) for Poor performance. If the best are sold -> farm is in distress.
How can we be sure that a Dairy farm is profitable?
- How long has the farm survived? More than 15 years proves profit.
- The owner has created second in line/s to manage farm affairs in his/her long absence.
- If owner with no other income, has re-paid loans and still acquired land or buildings.
- If the purpose is commercial and AI is used and poor performers culled-it’s a good farm.
- If manipulation in feed is practiced; Pre milking Hand, bucket, teat wash with sanitizer spray or dip is being done and dung urine & waste is disposed and recycled its good.
- After 5 years of starting if Herd growth is fast enough and no new animals are inducted.
- Cattle heads sold is an indicator.
- Milk stability throughout year. Little up and downs.
- Feed cost is 50 % of production cost of a liter of milk.
- Own milk product making and storage both for short term & long term.
- Few visits of vet. For genuine causes like Castration AI and pregnancy diagnosis.
- Animal’s docility, tameness and trained habits will speak.
- Stable green supply mechanism is satisfactory. Storage of BOTI (Hay) is proteinous and is adequately stocked (say for one year, at the end of harvesting season)
- Least concentrate feeding. Say 1% of body weight maximum for an average milker.
- Not more than 1 person/ 10 cows and its followers.
This is just an idea. I will appreciate if you complete the list. Do edit please.
Dr Ranjit Dash, For Gir Odisha Group members only. Date 16.6.17