Towards Sustainable Dairy Farming

Dr. Banarsi Lal

India is the largest milk producing country in the world. It is blessed with vast dairy resources. India has the highest population of cows and buffaloes in the world. India is showing robust and steady growth in dairy sector. Livestock plays an important role in the Indian economy. It provides employment to about 8.8 per cent of population in India. Livestock equip people with food, income, drought power and manures and act as the major livelihood means of millions of people. Dairy farming has grown massively in the last few decades in India. India has been able to produce the self-sufficient dairy farming. Although the dairy farms are thriving across the nation but their sustainability remains an issue to be addressed. Dairy farming requires large amount of cattle feed, green fodder, medicines etc. Although India is at number one in the milk production but still there are lot of challenges in this Industry. Lack of quality fodder, feed and health care of animals are the major constraints. In the present livestock production system, major thrust is given on the feed for the dairy farming which assisted to increase the milk production. But the high cost of feed does not give substantial profits to the dairy farmers. Intensive dairy farming requires confined facilities for optimal productivity. Tightly packed overcrowded facilities are stressful and it causes different diseases to the animals. Overcrowded animals are susceptible to various diseases and it lowers the quality of milk. In sustainable dairy farming choosing the right breed of animals is primarily needed. While purchasing the dairy animals most of the farmers think only for the milk yield of animal but the other factors such as suitability of climate, feed availability, diseases and environmental conditions should also be considered. Typical hybrid cows such as Jersey are sensitive to extremely hot and dry climate. They also require extreme care. Many Indian breeds of cows and buffaloes are suitable in the Indian conditions. Sustainable dairy farming is an interaction of many factors that influences production, reproduction, environment, longevity of live and input management. Milk production is a livestock enterprise in which small-scale farmers can successfully engage in order to improve their livelihoods. Hygienic cowshed is also needed for the sustainable dairy farming. The dairy farm should have proper ventilation and it should protect the animals from adverse weather conditions. Iron sheets should be avoided while constructing the dairy shed as they generate intense heat which is harmful for any breed of animal. Regular checkup of animals is also required in the sustainable dairy farming. Cows and buffaloes can be allowed to roam in the grazing fields as it will help to keep the animals more fit. Steady supply of quality feed and fodder are also needed for an ideal dairy farm. Efforts should be made to produce the organic feed and fodder at the farm and they should be avoided from the outside. The animals’ wastes should be disposed off in the compost pits properly. A biogas unit can also be established with the waste products of animals of a dairy farm. In fact the natural gas produced from just four cows can fuel a kitchen for the four persons. There should be proper arrangement of electricity and power in the sustainable dairy farm. Diesel generators can also used by some dairy farmers but it is a costly affair. So, solar power system can be used which is very cheap and farmers can afford it easily. A sustainable dairy farm should be economically viable and eco-friendly. India is the largest cattle producer in the world and has large animal diversity and is first in buffalo while second in goat production in the world.13 per cent of world’s cattle population and 57 per cent of world’s buffalo population is found in India. There is dire need of cross breed and Jersey bulls in the country to improve the cattle breed. The emphasis should be given on the use of advanced breeding tools to increase the breeding bulls for expansion of artificial expansion. Clinical animal health services with capacity building for super speciality and advanced medicinal interventions need to be developed. Animal diseases and parasites need to be managed according to the different agro-climatic zones in the country. Focus should be given on important diseases like foot and mouth disease, mastitis, tuberculosis, metabolic disorders etc. for the safety of animals. Imbalanced animal diet in dairy animals affects their production, reproduction and health. Area specific dairy mineral mixture should be given to the dairy farmers to fulfill the diet of dairy animals. The efforts for the improvement of breed of animals are wasted without proper nutrition. Majority of livestock rearers in India are small and landless farmers who have very limited sources of fodder. Feed and fodder are the main factors for the dairy development. Fodder availability especially in the offseason is really a great problem for the dairy farmers. There is need to promote feed and fodder resources. There is need to promote scientific techniques for hay and silage making. Training on scientific cultivation of fodder should be imparted to the farmers and improved/hybrid seed of different fodder crops should be timely provided to the dairy farmers. Cost-effective nutritious feed should be made by the researchers. Promotions of Urea Molasses Multinutrient Blocks (UMBB) have shown excellent results for the production and reproduction in dairy sector. More research should made in conversion of agricultural products into cattle feed. Livestock is emerging an important sector in the economy of India and plays an important role in the socio-economic development of the country. The contribution of dairying sector to the national income is invaluable. This sector provides insurance against crop failures. This sector helps in increasing the crop production by providing the drag power, organic manure and cash income on a regular basis. Although India ranked first in milk production but the productivity of milk in hilly areas is less. Maximum milk is produced in the selected parts of the parts of the country. There are open opportunities in dairy farming for the economically small dairy farmers in the country. Dairy technologies should be made by the scientists according to the socio-economic, size of dairy farm, market approach of the farmers and also according to the agro-ecological conditions of the area.Dairy sector is poised to play a major role in our nation’s economy in the years to come.This sector can open some new avenues of income and employment and also improve the nutritional status of the people.
(The writer is Chief Scientist & Head of KVK, Reasi, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu).

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