Dairy Farm Requirements and Management Tips
The following information is about the basic Dairy Farm Requirements.
Starting a dairy farm from scratch needs the understanding of some basic things related to dairy farming. Some of the prerequisite conditions for establishing a dairy farm include financial and time commitment. A properly designed plan and management schedule should be clearly defined before getting into the dairy farm business. Some important factors for establishing a dairy farm are:
- The first and foremost requirement for setting up a dairy farm is an investment (funds). A farmer should have enough money for the construction of a shed, procuring the farm equipment, purchasing animals and getting feed for the animals. Depending on the plan of the project, financial assistance is given to the farmers through NABARD subsidy schemes.
- Having a own land for beginning a dairy farm is always a better option because beginning a farm on rented land would become a costly. The farm location should be within 10 kms from the city area such that the sale of the produce would be easy.
- The farmer or individual starting the farm should always plan for cultivating the cattle fodder in the land. Generally, green fodder i.e. grass, sorghum etc. is cultivated in a small area within the farm. These grass varieties are propagated through seeds and it is estimated that 70-80 tons of grass is produced per acre of land. One important thing to remember is that the cultivation of grass should begin 60-70 days before the animals are brought into the farm.
- The farm should also store dry fodder for a minimum of 1 year because the price of dry material is cheaper immediately after the harvest season, but later during the summer or drought period the dry fodder becomes costly.
- Simultaneous to the grass cultivation, two other things should be taken up i.e. construction of bore well and shed. Bore well helps to supply water for the cultivation of green grass. The bore well should be connected to electrical supply for irrigation needs. A single phase motor is also installed in the farm to compensate for power cuts in the region.
- The average size of the farm sheds should be 75 x 30 feet so as to accommodate 30 buffalos. Similarly, the farm sheds should have a calf shed, 2 rooms for the workers (12 x 10 ft), one store room of dimensions 12 x 10 ft and one room for the farm manager or owner (12 x 10 ft).
- The farm should have basic equipment like the chaff cutter, single phase generator, milk collecting cans, cleaning and sanitation tools and other farm management equipment.
- Before beginning the farm, the owner should always have a tie up with a milk agency for selling his produce and products. The farmer could also try to sell his produce to hotels and local shops or directly to nearby households.
- The farm should be equipped with workers to handle the dairy cattle and to maintain the farm properly. The owner of the farm should always employ one or two extra farmers as a backup plan. The general requirement of workers is 1: 10 i.e. one worker for 10 dairy cattle.
- The animals for the farm should be bought in two batches, i.e. the first batch contains approximately 19 dairy cattle and 1 bull and the second batch contains 10 cattle introduced after 5 months. A bull is a must for the farm and should be always bought in the first batch. The animals should be purchased only after careful consultation with an experienced person.
- Dairy farm business should be started only is one has an extreme desire for it and is passionate to raise dairy cattle. The business is labor intensive and needs lots of attention and patience.
- The farmer or individual involved in the dairy farming business should have basic knowledge of the farming techniques. For efficient farming methods and ideas, training is provided to the individuals at different training centers.
When the farm is once set up, the weekly requirements and management practices should be carried out carefully. The different stages of farm management are:
- During the first week of purchase, the animals should be allowed to recover from the transportation stress (if purchase is made from a far off land). The stress developed due to change of environment could lead to death of the calves, loss of body weight, etc. After the animals are brought to the farm, immediate medical check up should be done. The animals should be washed 2 times a day and should be fed with good quality and quantity feed (20 kgs of chopped green fodder and 10 kgs of dry fodder). Supply water to the cattle 3 times a day and protect them from mosquitoes. Avoid stressful environment like unclean shed, beating etc.
- The dairy cattle become stable by the 3rd week and start producing milk sometimes. During this time period, all the workers in the farm should have a proper work schedule and the yield from the farm should be around 10 litres per dairy cattle (depends on the variety of cattle being raised). It should always be noted that there could be at least one cattle loss in the farm before reaching the stable stage.
- After the 3rd month, the yield of milk from the cattle is expected to decrease. This is the time for artificially inseminating the dairy cattle.
- If the dairy cattle start producing new calves after the fifth month, then it is considered to be a success for the business. During the 5th month, a new batch of cattle is introduced into the farm. The yield from the farm could be extremely low if all the cattle are pregnant at the same time. The farmer should be a little careful at this phase.
- The yield from the farm regains to normal level and almost all the dairy cattle get pregnant. If any of the cattle is not pregnant then it is assumed to have reproductive issues and is administered required medical attention.
- In the 11th month, the cattle enter into their late pregnancy phase and the farmer or owner should be prepared for some extra investment for maintenance because there is extremely low output from the farm during this period.
- The business enters into the second year of operation during the 13th month and there should be a balance created within the farm such that some cattle are in the yielding phase and some are in the dry phase. This kind of balance can produce a yield of at least 200 litres. All the new born calves should be evaluated such that only female calves are retained and male calves are sold out.
- The waste from the farm like cow dung and urine are sold for extra income, which is used to procure or purchase dry fodder for the entire year.