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Model Farming

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Upgrading dairy technology              
By Tauseef Khan Babar

June 13, 2011: OUTDATED dairy farming practices have undermined growth potential of this sector, which exceeds the combined value of two major crops — wheat and cotton.

It is time to formulate a proactive strategy to promote modern farming for boosting quality milk production.

Growers prefer integrated farming. They think it is beneficial for them because the farm residue is utilised in dairy farms and the waste of dairy outfits is used for growing crops. This minimizes their production cost.

But in the absence of modern dairy management techniques, its profitability relative to other forms of farming has been overshadowed.

Pakistan possesses a huge animal population of 50-60 million which is three times larger than that of Germany but unfortunately, the yields are one fifth due to low productivity of our animals, as a result of imbalanced feeding, unhygienic care and lack of drinking water.

About 70 per cent of dairy farmers are smallholders. Various reports indicate that 40-45 per cent of dairying households maintain herd sizes of one to two animals while 25-30 per cent have three to four animals. However, 90 per cent of milk production comes from small farmers.
 

 

Researchers believe that it is only large mechanised farms that can ensure increased profitability and quality just like developed countries.

In Pakistan, a dual purpose strategy has to be evolved both for the development of small and large-scale commercial farms which provide profitability for the small farmers and also maintain quality through the supply chain.

In China, the large dairy farms are usually owned by dairy processors and highly mechanised outfits that utilise modern techniques of milk production. However, these farms do not account for the bulk of milk production and the smallholding production co-exists.

Small farmers in China either take their cows to the milking locations or the cows are housed near the milking facility — to allow cows managed by households to be milked by machine and the milk goes directly to a refrigerated bulk tank.

In New Zealand and Australia, they have evolved a system of local area entrepreneurs (generally known as “contractors”) who own grass cutting and hay baling equipment, and bring these items to individual farms at agreed times and for agreed rates.

The contractors do not rent the equipment, rather they provide full service, including using the equipment on the farm. In this way, the cost of a large asset is spread over many farms, bringing mechanisation to a large number of farmers which would be impossible otherwise.

The optimum production of dairy animals can only be achieved if we ensure regular provision of quality feed and fodder even during slump periods but unfortunately only 14 per cent of the total cropped area of Pakistan is allocated to fodder crops.

Dairy farmers generally cultivate oats and berseem as “Rabi fodders” while maize, sorghum and millet as “Kharif fodders”.

Berseem is rich in protein but low in energy, while all other fodders are deficient in proteins but are a good source of energy. The provision of concentrate feed formulation should complement the nutrient availability from the fodder. Nutrient availability also depends upon the stage of growth of the fodder.

The provision of minerals is essential for the efficient productive and reproductive performance of dairy animals which could only be done either by offering mineral mixture daily in the concentrate ratio or by placing mineral blocks in mangers for the animals to lick at their will.

Generally there are two fodder scarcity periods (December-January and May-June) for fodder, leading to decrease in milk production. The dairy farmers during the scarcity periods feed the animals wheat straw but unfortunately the use of mechanical harvesters for wheat harvesting deprives them from it. Furthermore, millions of tons of wheat straw are also being exported to neighbouring countries, pushing up its prices and depriving animals of balanced diet.

Unfortunately, the Directorate of Livestock Farms Punjab set up in 1962 has not been able to provide quality breed animals at subsidised rate to the farmers on tenancy basis ( provided that the farmers will cultivate fodder in proportionate to given number of animals).

Milk, being a highly perishable commodity, does not give many choices to dairy farmers for storage and the unorganised middlemen are considered a speedy substitute for a cold supply chain.

It is imperative to keep dairy animals healthy to increase quality milk production and it is only possible through training of the farmers about vaccination, dipping, de-worming and mastitis control programme (milk screening test, milk let down techniques, milking methods and teat dipping).


Courtesy: The DAWN

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