Dairy farming involves rising of cattle for milk production. It involves the proper maintenance of cattle along with, collection and processing of milk and milk products which are useful to man. Dairying is the production and marketing of milk and its products.
The Indian cattle include cows and buffaloes. They are domesticated for milk, meat, leather and transportation. They belong to two different species, Bos indicus (Indian cows and bulls) and Bos bubalis (buffaloes). These cattle animals are reared for milk and farm labour.
They are classified into three types:
(i) Dairy breeds
(ii) Draught (or) Draft breeds
(iii) Dual purpose breeds.
Dairy animals are domesticated for obtaining milk. The cows (milk producing females) are high milk yielders (milch animals). The dairy breeds may be indigenous breeds (or) exotic breeds.
Indigenous breeds are native of India. They include Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Deoni and Gir. These cattle are well built with strong limbs, prominent hump and loose skin. Milk production depends on the duration of the lactation period (the period of milk production after the birth of a calf). These local breed animals show excellent resistant to diseases.
The exotic breeds (Bos taurus) are imported from foreign countries. They include Jersey, Brown Swiss and Holstein-Friesian etc. These foreign breeds are selected for long lactation periods.
The Indian (local) breeds and foreign breeds can be cross bred to produce animals with both desired qualities.
They are used for agricultural work, such as tilling, irrigation and carting. These include Amritmahal, Kangayam, Umblachery, Malvi, Siri and Hallikar breeds. Bullocks are good draft animals while the cows are poor milk yielders.
These breeds provide milk and they are useful for farm work. In India these breeds are favoured by farmers as the cows are fairly good milk yielders and bullocks are good for draught work. They includes Haryana, Ongole, Kankrej and Tharparkar.
In India buffaloes are domesticated in great number. They are the main milk producers. The milk production of buffaloes is more than that of cows. Murrah, Mehsana and Surti are indigenous buffalo breeds which are good milk yielders.
The food requirement for cattle should support healthy life of the animal and milk producing requirement. The feed for dairy cattle is broadly classified into two:
Roughage is a coarse and fibrous fodder. It consists of succulent feed (cultivated grass, fodder and root crops) and dry fodder (hay, straw and chaff).
Concentrates are low in fibre and contain high level of carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients. A variety of raw materials such as cholam (jowar), kambu (pearl millet), ragi (finger millet), rice bran, wheat bran, cotton seed cake, mustard cake, linseed cake, groundnut cake, mango seed, neem cake and yellu (sesame) cake can be used to make concentrate feed. They should also be fed on green fodder (maize, lucerne, berseem, millet, and elephant grass).
When green fodder is not available, cattle can be fed with silage. Silage can be defined as fermented high moisture stored food which can be fed to cows. It is prepared from green grass, sorghum, cereals and weeds by using the entire green plant.
Dairy cattle need balanced rations containing all nutrients in proportional amounts and food additives which contain minerals, vitamins, antibiotics and hormones to promote the growth of animals, good yield of milk and to protect from diseases. The daily average feed ratio of a milking cow is:
(i) 15-25 kg of roughage (dry grass and green fodder)
(ii) 4-5 kg of grain mixture
(iii) 100-150 litres of water
Several policies have been adopted by the Government to increase the livestock development in India. Improved breeding techniques in cattle have tremendously increased the production of new breeds with high capacities.
It is based on cross breeding of indigenous cows with exotic European breeds to increase milk production. New methods and modern equipments are made available for machine – milking of cows.
It is based on dairy commodity aid to increase milk supply in urban areas.