It is seen at most places that a Dairy Farmer is not aware of the economics of his day to day business. This is because Dairy has been a traditional form of business, which is being carried on by generations together. The pattern particularly of the feeding & watering has been quite the same for a long time.
It is commonly seen that most of the Farmers who keep animals for Milk have very little or NO idea about the expenses (per day) invloved in raising the animals. It is interesting to note that the farmer is even unaware of the fact that the feeding cost of his animal comprises of more than 80% of the total cost of raising the animals.
Perhaps the main reason for this may be as he grows the majority of the fodder in his own land he has never bothered about its cost.
Pertaining to the feeding & drinking habits many fallacies (misconceptions) exist viz.
1. It is advisable to feed animal with wet/cooked feed.
Scientifically the feed fed to animal should be chewed (& ruminated) so that the saliva mixes with the feed. The saliva contains phosphates & bicarbonates, which help in maintaining the pH of the Rumen, which help in proper digestion of the Feed. Good digestion ensures wellbeing & the production is dependent on the same.
If the feed fed to animal is wet or cooked then chewing does not take place
resulting in imbalance of the Ruminal pH which is very vital for proper digestion.
This will ultimately affect the Milk production (which will be low in this case).
2. Water requirement can be fulfilled with 2/3 times in a day.
To produce one litre of Milk it is essential to drink minimum 5 litres of water thus animal giving about 10 litres of milk daily should drink more than 50 litres of water. This requirement is only for Milk but animal also has to maintain itself as well as reproduce thus an animal giving 10 litres of milk has to consume at least 75 litres of water daily ; which is just not possible by offering animal water only about 2/3 times during the day.
The animal should be giving clean water as many times as possible. If this is done then automatically increase in milk production is seen.
It should be noted that milk contains about 83 - 87% of water.
3. Animal should be fed continuously throughout the day.
If the animal is fed round the clock then it will not get any time to ruminate. If there is no time to ruminate then the digestion will not be proper as the feed mixing with saliva (due to rumination) will not take place. Thus the milk production will be decreased due to impaired digestion.
4. Animal gives more milk with more concentrate feed.
The animal’s stomach is a complex structure containing 4 parts. Unlike simple stomach it requires more fibre for complete & balanced feeding. It has been made in such a way that animal has to consume green & dry grasses for efficient digestion & conversation into Milk. (The concentrates are being fed as the grasses in India are poor in general quality as regards CP/EE/Energy value etc). Feeding animal more concentrates will lead to decrease in salivary output upon which ruminal pH is dependent. This will lead to acidosis by which depression in milk fat will be seen. For getting more milk with better Fat% it is essential to give grasses (dry as well as green) which help proper digestion as this will result in maintenance of Ruminal pH due to continual rumination resulting in better production.
It should also be noted that giving more concentrates (more protein & energy) than required will lead into Animal spending more energy to breakdown these proteins which on the contrary should have been utilized for milk production. It is also seen that feeding more protein leads to reproductive problems.
5. The animal’s mineral requirement is met totally through the Feed & fodder.
Animal requires certain minerals for their optimum growth / Maintainence / milk production & reproduction. The minerals available in Feed & fodder take care of the Maintainence & production to a certain extent but will not be sufficient to take care of all the requirements. At the same time through every litre of milk animal also loses certain quantities of minerals, which need to be replaced at the soonest. As this is not being followed the animal’s productive capacity is greatly reduced & animals have to be replaced at an early stage.
Thus it is very essential to give Mineral Mixture everyday. Every farmer should note that Mineral Mixture is not a medicine (usually thought to be given only during infertility) but a very essential part of the animals daily needs.
6. Natural Service is better than Artificial Insemination.
With the use of same bull everytime we may not be able to improve the genetic potential of the animal. Improvement in genetic potential is primarily responsible for increasing milk production, whereas with A.I this can be very much possible. Secondly the use of same bull being mated with various cows the chances of contracting diseases by the bull is possible.
7. Animal should fed only Grass during the DRY period.
The animal in dry period (especially in the last 2 months of Pregnancy); is not fed properly and is fed only with grasses as it is not giving milk during that period. Actually it is a very crucial time for the animal as its body is undergoing lot of changes w.r.t the growth of foetus (calf) & meeting its requirement.
Usually these animals are fed only with fodder & they become very deficient in mineral status as well as their own energy status leading to various problematic conditions commonly known as Metabolic disorders & lowered milk production.