It’s been a great concern here in Kenya when start-up farmers go out to buy animals. They get deceived by the looks at the time of purchasing cows for their herd. So I took a leaf from India dairy farm just to spruce this blog post, and so bear with me. All the same, this are some ideas to borrow from our Indian brothers and sisters. Cows are holy in India, at least this is safe.
Management Practices in setting up and operating Dairy Farms
Sound management practices are essential for profitable dairy farming. Important points of scientific management techniques are presented here to help dairy farmers make their operations more efficient and productive.
Selection of Animals
Farmers wishing to start from scratch have a somewhat long journey. But it’s safe this way to start the dairy from local cows and build your own herd of crossbred cows by using AI service for his animals from a reliable source. However, when the farmer wants to start a dairy immediately, then purchase of milch animals becomes inevitable. A milch is a cow in milk or kept for her milk.
As far as possible, the animals should be purchased from organized dairy farms where the records pertaining to birth, breeding history, milk yield, health, etc would be generally available other than the pedigree details of Dam (mother) and Sire (father). This is not the case in most Kenyan dairy farms, and when there is no such source, then the only option is to select the animals in cattle markets or reputable farms.
It should be borne in mind that the entire trade of purchase and sale of milch animals is completely in the hands of private traders and chances are that the buyer may be misled/ deceived by the false information, ultimately leading to wrong decisions in selection of animals. Therefore, selection of a dairy animal becomes very crucial.
Here are some 13 or so points that may help in selecting a good milch animal:
- The animal should be milked in front of you for three successive milkings (morning, evening, morning). The average of these rnilkings will help to estimate the production per time per day.
- When the animal is being milked, watch for the time required for “letting down” of milk.
- Watch whether all the four teats are functional. Remember, both the hind teats give 55 per cent milk and the front teats give 45 per cent
- Watch whether milk flow from each teat requires less or more effort. Remember that the ‘hard milkers’ will be troublesome.
- Watch whether the animal is addicted to any particular feed / fodder / person at the milking time.
- Palpate the udder and examine by stroking gently and weigh it in your hands.
- Remember, the skin should be thin with silky hair, udder should be demarcated in four parts, the teats should have the same length and placed equidistant.
- Udder should be well attached to abdomen, not to be pendulous and should not have any lumps.
- See that from the ground, the tips of the teats are 45 em up so that the chances of injury are reduced.
- Look for big visible zigzag milk veins which indicate good blood supply to udder which is a good sign of high milk yield.
- Select the animal in the second / third lactation preferably in the first month with female calf at the heel. This is to have maximum milk production in the fourth and the fifth lactation. (It may not be possible to know this in market place unless a veterinarian is available to ascertain the age from the teeth of the animal.
- Select the animal which walks freely, is alert, gets up easily, and is neither fatty nor too lean.
- Select the animal having wider chest (lateral view), narrow neck (top view), and wider distance between thighs (hind view).
Have you got any ideas to add?