Engaged in gir cattle breeding since 1964 in Sagwadi, Gujarat
As per Indian climatic conditions gir cow is the best breed for any commercial dairy farm. “It is a faulty statement that it cannot produce good quantity of milk. It is a high-milk yielding cow provided dairy farmers take good care of the cow. Also it gives birth to calves having salient features,” asserts Mr. Pradip Singh Raol, expert cow breeder. He hails from Sagwadi, Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
Mr. Pradip Singh Raol,79, has been working with and for gir cattle since childhood as dairy farming was his ancestral business. “I have grown up with cows and bulls around me. I am very much fascinated by this breed as it is our invaluable heritage,” he adds. Post independence when people across the nation were discarding the indigenous dairy breeds of India for HF and Jersey, Mr. Raol was amongst the very few breeders to maintain a pure line of gir in India.
Today Sagwadi Cattle Farm is managed by Mr. Raol and his family. Their gaushala is maintained solely for the prized gir cattle. The herd size in the farm is 250 animals (in total). At the farm calves are sold to other dairy farmers. “Our calves are extremely special and reared with utmost care therefore before selling we check the credibility of the buyers. If convinced then only we sell our calves else not!” insists Mr. Raol.
Natural mating is definitely much better than artificial insemination as per Mr. Raol. Artificial insemination is painful for the animals and hampers the health of the cow. “Yet these days it is quite a common practice. In order to inseminate the cows artificially the person in-charge must be trained and perfect in his work. He must understand the cow conditions very well,” he adds. To let the cow conceive naturally there are some prerequisites that the dairy farmer must follow.
Gir cows and bulls are different than other dairy breeds with respect to its distinctive features. “The pure breed cattle are difficult to find these days but it is essential that farmers invest time to identify genuine gir cow for their farm. Also its health condition must be good then only the reproduction will be good. If the internal health of the cattle is good then it will be exhibited outside too such as firm skin, clear eye and clean tongue,” he highlights.
There should be free space for the gir cattle to move around freely. “It is imperative to leave gir cattle untied so that it is stress free. The tied animals are stressed badly thereby its’ milk production and reproduction cycle gets affected adversely,” shares Mr. Raol. There should be a designated arrangement for drinking water. Supply of clean drinking water is a must in a dairy farm.
The farm should have its own breeding bulls. It is not possible to depend on outside farms for the bulls for breeding in case of natural mating. “Check on the history of the bull’s brood. If possible do some research on the female calves of the bull for its milk yielding ability and male calves for its offspring producing ability,” he says. Besides bulls must be tested for various diseases before it is purchased for breeding.
“The caretaker of the cattle must have enough knowledge about the gir breed and should be close to perfection in performing his duties. He should be smart to observe the changes in the behavior and physical appearance of the cows, bulls and calves if any. Subsequently he must report to the dairy farm owner so that immediate action can be taken,” suggests Mr. Raol. Even if the change is small yet it needs to be attended because it is easier to resolve a small issue than a big problem. Also the caretaker should be trained to take care of the bulls. It can get aggressive if offended or troubled. Clean water and good food is a must for the breeding bull.
Green fodder should be a mix of jowar (sorghum), maize and alpha alpha. Dry sorghum and peanut leaves make good dry fodder which is usually liked by the dairy animals. Vegetables too must be included in the feed. “Bulls must be given good amount of carrots as it improves the quality of the semen. Carrot when given to the cows the milk quality is enhanced. Carrot has natural beta-carotene that is the excellent for the dairy cattle,” he asserts. Other vegetable to be integrated in the daily diet is beet roots. Beet root is highly digestible and is excellent source of carbohydrates. Moringa is another feed ingredient that is good for the cattle. It can be given either fresh or ensiled. It is rich in protein and fiber.
All de-oiled cakes are good for gir cattle however Mr. Raol suggests strictly not giving BT-cotton seeds de-oiled cakes. “It creates the problem in fertility. It must be avoided for sure. Coconut and peanut de-oiled cakes are good source of proteins,” he says.
Giving advice to budding dairy farmers, Mr. Raol concludes, “Get out of your protective cover and meet as many as dairy farmers as you can! Observe their practices, adopt their techniques if good, stick to the traditional ways of dairy farming and keep walking on the journey to learn. Gir cow produces the best quality milk in the entire world. It is a fact that is eternal. So do not work against this fact as we did post independence embracing HF and Jersey breed dairy animals. Do not repeat the mistake!! Drink A2 milk and produce it for others too because health of nation lies with gir cow.”
Mr. Prdeep Sinh Raol
Sagwadi Kaliyabid, Bhavnagar, Gujarat – 364002
Phone: (91) 9426989004