It takes hard work, compassion and empathy to build and gain from animals.
Dr. R K Chaluvaiah has worn many hats during his 36-year stint with veterinary medicine and animal husbandry. During his tenure, Dr. Chaluvaiah has associated, in different capacities, with many organizations namely, BAIF, Karnataka Milk Federation, Department of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, Government of Karnataka and RKVY Implementation at Commissionerate of Animal Husbandry.
Upon our query, Dr. Chaluvaiah discloses that his main area of interest is catering to animal husbandry and animal health. Administering precautionary medicines and curing livestock of diseases, improving livestock breeding and upgrading existing breeds are areas of great interest for Dr. Chaluvaiah.
Dr. Chaluvaiah throws light on the fact that the government has interesting schemes for those who decide to take the plunge into dairy farming, even if you may own just 2 cows. Through this investment, you can make an additional income. Dr. Chaluvaiah explains that the government has a Special Bhagya scheme, wherein SC/ST people can avail 50% and others get 25% subsidy. Besides that there are special state government schemes like Amrutha Yojana, Special Component Plan, etc. These give a subsidy of up to 60% or Rs 50,000/- whichever is lower. The NABARD scheme also provides subsidy assistance for establishing dairy units, cattle breeding units etc.
According to Dr. Chaluvaiah, currently in the dairy sector, there is huge scope for milk marketing. We have ample amounts of milk procurement but struggle to sell it. So, the private sector who can establish dairy farms, can add value by helping to market the procured milk and aid in the making of various milk products. Dr. Chaluvaiah points out that everybody only concentrates on marketing their products in urban areas. It is often overlooked that there is a market for these products in the rural areas as well, which is yet to be explored. He explains that there are rural areas, where there is a deficit of milk and milk products. As per health recommendation, we are supposed to consume about 290 grams of milk per day but the availability is still stagnant at about 280 grams. That in itself is a reason for such products to be marketed in rural areas.
Animal husbandry in our country, says Dr. Chaluvaiah, is a practice that is passed on traditionally. It was mainly all about maintaining and managing the local cows and buffaloes. Today, we have new breeds that give high milk yields. Farmers need to realize tangible benefits from managing dairy farms. To attain tangible benefits, ensuring that the cows are healthy is extremely crucial. Dr. Chaluvaiah reminds us that vaccinating animals should be done religiously to keep diseases at bay. The government has stocked up all vaccinations and farmers can get vaccination information from veterinary units across the country. It is encouraging that there are about 18-20 government institutions providing formal animal husbandry trainings in the entire state. Lead banks also help in providing trainings. The Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) also provides training sessions in about 3-4 places across the state.
Dr. Chaluvaiah points out some important facts that farmers need to be crucially aware of:
Machine Milking: Milk being a perishable item one has to adopt a hygienic method of milking the cows and collection of milk. This way, spoilage and wastage of milk will decrease. Hence, machine milking. These machines are also available at subsidized rates for people who have 5 or more animals. It saves time, effort and keeps milk fresher for longer. This, in turn, reduces spoilage and wastage by 90%. Farmers need to be trained about this.
Animal Feed: Fodder for animals is dependent on climatic conditions of a place – there can be draughts, floods owing to which there can be non-availability or rise in price for fodder. Hence, fodder should be diligently procured when it is low-priced and stored methodically. There are new methods of storing available, which is also something people can explore. These are some of the things that can have a positive effect on the output and profit made by farmers and hence, our economy.
When queried about the biggest challenges faced by dairy farms of Karnataka, Dr. Chaluvaiah made the following observations:
Fodder management and security: As mentioned earlier, this aspect should be planned very well.
The downslide in the production of agricultural crops: The focus on cultivating cash crops has created a huge shift in focus from agricultural crops. The flip side is that it is agricultural crops that is our main source of fodder. On this note, at least people who have animals farms and plots of land, should take care that at least 10-15% of the land holdings produce agricultural products so that they can procure bulk of the fodder from their land itself. The government should disperse subsidized rates for seeds, fertilizers, etc. to make this a reality. Good fodder and crops enrich milk production and therefore, availability of balanced cattle feed is a must.
Mastitis: 15-20% of milk reduction is because of mastitis. Antibiotics given to the cattle to cure Mastitis, and the disease – both account for reduced milk production. According to Dr. Chaluvaiah, the cure should be prescribed based on the sensitivity of the cow. Symptomatic treatments will not help and can be damaging in the long run.
According to Dr. Chaluvaiah, government departments and universities can help mitigate the above-stated issues. Governments should come up with a regularized policy because antibiotics keep changing every year and more it is used, the more damaging it is for the animals and their productivity. Training and keeping farmers aware of best practices can be carried out by universities and colleges.
Per Dr. Chaluvaiah, delivering government policies and practices to the farmers diligently, is what he marks as his achievement. “I have left good footprints where ever I have worked.”, says Dr. Chaluvaiah. He explains that the goodwill he carries is evident when the farmers whom he has catered to still remember him, irrespective of how long ago he may have worked in many places. This, he holds very close to his heart and is certainly a feather in his cap. Having been a government servant, Dr Chaluvaiah takes pride in that fact that he could honestly deliver products and policies, dispersed by the government to the beneficiaries.
Till date, Dr. Chaluvaiah is open to providing sound technical guidance for running a dairy farm. He can guide farmers in establishing their farm, sourcing animals, etc. He can even help farmers/entrepreneurs with all kinds of project reports related to animal husbandry and provide assistance related to central and state governments support details.
What would Dr. Chaluvaiah’s advice be to the present generation who would like to major in veterinary science in University?, we queried.
Be ethical and true to your job! Dr. Chaluvaiah cannot stress enough on the importance of being ethical to one’s profession. Per his observation, nowadays, perhaps because of advanced lifestyles, ethics often takes a backseat. He reminds us that most government-appointed veterinary doctors deal with farmers – a majority of who are uneducated. These farmers take the doctor’s word as the only version of the truth. Also, keeping in mind that the animals cannot communicate in our language, misleading people may seem be an easy thing to do but it ultimately ends up being a disgrace on one’s own self.
It is worth noting that in hospitals, if an animal is bought for treatment, then it is the vet’s, not the assistants’ duty, to treat all the animals that come in. Also, quality of treatment should not depend on how much the owner of the animal can pay. Quality should be consistent.
Being empathetic to animals is a must in this profession. If one does not hold compassion for animals, this profession a wrong route and a waste of one’s energy and position.
As for people who aspire to study veterinary science and desires to render services at a grass root level, it’s good to know that they live their dream whether or not they are associated with the government. They can establish themselves at a private level. There is no law forbidding you to establish your own farm, training centres etc. There are farmers who set up training centres, and distribute breeding stock etc. That line of business is remunerative too. By doing such things ethically, you generate business and create a name for yourself.
Dr R. K Chaluvaiah ,M.V.SC.VETY.MEDICINE
Rtd Additional Director
Animal husbandry and Veterinary services
Govt of Karnataka