This article is about setting up a dairy farm in which cows and buffaloes are kept primarily for milk production in conventional housing system. The animals are fed green fodder and roughage at 8-10% of live body weight in addition to nutritionally balanced formulated feed and bred by Artificial Insemination method to gain optimum milk yields in lactation cycle of average 300 days. Dairy farming involves housing, breeding, feeding, watering, disease control and hygienic production of milk on farm.
The proposed dairy farm would be established on leased land with purpose built shed constructed on conventional housing system. The farm would start the operations with 12 animals (10 cows and 2 buffaloes having daily per animal milk production of 13 and 8 liters respectively) to achieve milk production of 34,560 liters by the end of first year, excluding the milk consumed by suckling calves. The breeding of animals would be planned through ‘Artificial Insemination’ method. Female calves would be given special attention and raised as heifers and male calves would be sold for fattening purpose. The milk will be primarily sold to bulk buyers at the rate of average Rs.60 per liter. The farm will also offer milk sale to domestic individual consumers.
Following are some key points before getting into the dairy farming business:
- Background knowledge and related experience of the entrepreneur in dairy farm operations.
- Application of good husbandry practices such as timely feeding, watering and vaccination to ensure animal’s health and disease-free environment.
- Awareness about the supply and demand of milk in the market as demand of milk is relatively higher in summer as compared to winter season.
- Efficient marketing of the project and bulk supply to wholesalers.
In the proposed study, initially twelve (12) animals, preferably 80% cows and 20% buffaloes, are recommended to obtain optimum milk production in the first year of project. It is assumed that on average, 70-80% animals would be in lactation on farm. The female heifers born at farm would be added in milking herd; hence the number of animals would be 50 at 10th year of project. The male calves would be sold for meat. Although, buffalo milk has higher fat content (9 10%) as compared to cow’s milk (3-6%) but total milk production of cows in average lactation period of 300 days is higher as compared to buffaloes. The dairy farm will have the capacity to sale 34,560 liters of milk, primarily directly to consumers and then milk contractors and processors in its first year of operation.
Dairy farming is a viable business proposition for both rural and peri-urban areas of Pakistan. There is almost equal demand for milk in rural and peri urban areas around the major cities such as Lahore, Faisalabad, Jhang, Sahiwal, Pakpattan, Jehlum, Peshawar, Charsadda, D.I. Khan, Quetta, Zhob, Lasbela, Karachi, Hyderabad, Sakkar etc. across the country; hence, from the demand point of view, the said project offers good investment opportunities for small scale investment in all provinces of country.
Apart from Lahore, Sialkot, kasur, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Okara, Dadu, Lasbela, D. I. Khan etc., dairy farming in rural and peri-urban locations around all major cities are the primary markets for dairy farming. The target clients for a dairy farm business include; domestic consumers, milk contractors and suppliers, milk collection and processing companies and dairy products manufacturing companies.
Producing High Quantity Milk at Dairy Farms in Pakistan
Selection of good dairy buffalo breeds: namely, Nili-Ravi and Kundi and cattle breeds such as Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Cholistani. Crossbred cows (cross of local non-descript cows with semen of exotic breeds e.g. Holstein, Friesian and Jersey) may also be considered.
Selection of animals with excellent body condition and udder health: average daily milk production of 8 liters or above for buffaloes and 12 liters or above for cows in 2nd or 3rd lactation, essentially with no disease history.
Housing: Good housing leads to good management practices and ultimately optimum production. Generally, housing should is:
- Less expensive
- Well ventilated, comfortable and dry with hygienic environment
- Equipped with easy drainage system and mechanism for removal of dung urine and waste material
- Protected from extreme environmental conditions
- Having maximum sun exposure: axis of length to be east to west
- Available with feed and water for 24 hours
- Planned so that future expansion may be possible when required
Feeding: Milking animal should be fed 1 kg of concentrate feed per 3 liters of milk produced; hence animal with 10 liters of milk production would be offered 3-3.5 kg of concentrate. Green fodder should be supplied @ 8-10% of body weight to the animals. Additionally, urea molasses blocks and salt blocks can help in better milk production. New born calves should be fed colostrum and milk @ 8-10% of body weight for first month of age. After that, green fodder should be added to its feeding plan
Watering: Supply of clean drinking water in clean troughs i.e. 50 to 80 liters of water consumption/adult animal/day round the clock maintains the milk production capacity of the animal.
Breeding: Efficient and timely Artificial Insemination (AI) of good genetic worth is a key to success in good breeding programs of herd. The detection of heat in buffaloes should be given special attention as they do not show signs of heat (silent heat).
Calving: Pregnant animals should be given special attention in third trimester of pregnancy and should be separated in pregnancy pens, if possible. Veterinary assistance should be sought out in case of emergency. Calf care and heifer management is very important in maintaining dairy farm production.
Udder health: Hygienic and clean milking twice a day (morning/ evening) lowers the chances of mastitis as udder health and hygiene is most important in dairy animals.
Storage: Proper storage of milk should be done preferably at temperature of 4 c.
Disease management: De-worming for endoparasitic infestations is necessary in calves born at farm. Timely vaccination against infectious diseases should be done as a prophylactic measure. At a well managed farm, mortality should not exceed 2-3% per year. The sick animals should be separated from rest of the animals and kept in quarantine.
Record keeping: The animals should be ear-tagged having information of animal such as breed, age, date of birth / purchase, number of lactation, vaccination etc. The records for daily milk yields, weight, Artificial Insemination (AI), calving, vaccination and medication etc. are also important.
Culling: Good productive animals should be selected and uneconomical animals should be culled.
Care: Regular technical assistance from the livestock professionals and experts.
Investment Required for Starting a Dairy Farm in Pakistan
In case dairy farm is not able to attain its target milk production or implement effective husbandry practices, it will not be able to cover the potential market and recover payments; hence, cost of operating the business will increase.