Communicating good animal husbandry practices to dairy farmers may improve income and food safety

Upali Kisku* and Amit Kumar Singh, ICAR- National Dairy Research Institute, Eastern Regional Station, Kalyani, India

2022-04-17 12:05:24

India has achieved top status in terms of milk production in the world with annual milk production of about 188 million tonnes with the availability of 394 g/ day/ capita which is higher than the recommendations of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India. However, as per many reports   the quality of milk produced is not up to the export standards. As per the observations of world health organization, if milk quality is not taken care of and continuous adulterated milk is continued in the market, more than 87% of citizens of India may suffer with serious diseases.

They may face serious problems such as cancer. Adulterations are done for making more money in less time however; this is unethical and must be banned. There are several provisions for strict punishments in case of adulteration in milk. The Supreme Court has favored a stringent punishment of life imprisonment for the offence of milk adulteration which at present is punishable up to six month jail term or fine ( Many dairy firms are making good profit out of dairy farming with good practices without adulterations. The farmers should learn good husbandry practices which will help them with not only a good profit but also an improved food safety for themselves and others. They may be able to build up a good consumer and farmer relationship with this way. Good animal husbandry practices will help in reducing unwanted extra production costs and fetch them with good income. This will also help in boosting their socio-economic status. Better husbandry practices include improved breeding, feeding, and heeding, weeding and utilizing animals under different climatic conditions for achieving good profit from animals without compromising with animals’ health performance.

It is easily understood that more milk selling means more money from it. However that selling milk should come from quality production not through inferior milk and never by adulteration with any substance. Milk adulteration is simple but an unethical and non-permissible work. It has a property of getting mixed easily with other substances such as water, gelatin, cane sugar, urea, etc. Adulteration is dangerous for life of human. Most of the times, the consumer generally don’t have instruments to detect adulteration in the milk which they purchased from anywhere. Even though consumers try to purchase milk from their reliable sources, but even then they may get betrayed. Especially from those producers who don’t follow quality norms or does prohibited adulterations. So they prefer the animals being milked in front of them so that they may receive considerable quality. But, some faulty feeding management to animals may also pass unwanted substance in milk such as giving oxytocin injection, or hormones to increase milk production or let down. Bad milk may adversely affect babies or patients in the hospitals severely. The milk price currently is near around Rs. 60 per kg for full cream milk however it varies in different regions. Per animal productivity under Indian conditions for crossbred cattle is 6.78kg/day; for Indigenous/Non-Descript Cows it is 2.50kg/day; for Buffalo it is 4.91kg/day; and for goats it is 0.45kg/day (Annual Report 2014-15, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, New Delhi). The major amount of milk contributor in India is Buffalo followed by cattle and goats contributing around 49, 48 and 3% respectively. Productivity of our animals is less than that of exotic ones. This may be genetically improved but it will take long period of time however; with good husbandry practices quick improvements in productivity from our animals may be achieved. This article is collated to summarize the consumers’ perception towards quality dairy production and how will the communication of these better practices boost up the income of farmers and improve the food safety challenges.

Consumer’s perceptions towards safe food

As the buying capacity of the consumers increase, they switch towards quality products more than merely going for quantity of it. And in case of milk, everyone would prefer good quality milk and milk products. Consumers’ preference has changed for food items a lot. They are ready paying more money for certified quality products as compared to the products which are not certified for its quality. Quality and price are the major criteria for choosing same food item from different manufacturing companies. Hence from here it may be noted that good money may also be earned when the quality of the food item is up to the standards. Farmers who wish to earn good income from the same amount of their produce; they should enhance the quality of their produce followed by certification of the process of production through recognized bodies such as FSSAI, ISO, AGMARK, etc.

Ways to improve milking operations

Any dairy business depends upon five major pillars of animal husbandry i.e. breeding, feeding, heeding, weeding, health care management. We shall briefly discuss each of these areas of animal husbandry for better understanding.

Breeding management

Picking up a good breed of animal breed for milk production plays a vital role in determining the performance of a herd over the period of time. Every state government had laid down their respective state breeding policies. For crossbred dairy cows the exotic level is set in between 50 to 62.5%. Jersey is proffered in hilly regions and HF is used in plain areas for crossbreeding programs. For buffaloes, selective breeding has to be followed for specific breeds and when buffaloes are non-descript they have to be upgraded with superior buffalo breeds such as Murrah or others. For indigenous cows, selective breeding is followed and when the animal are non-descript then they are upgraded with superior Germplasm of Sahiwal, Gir, Tharparkar, etc. Maintenance of 80: 20 ratios of milking and dry cows at a farm is advisable with good estrus detection and insemination facilities. Behavioral sign changes of animals should be watched carefully for considering it to be in heat followed by its insemination at 2-12 hours after the onset of heat for successful insemination. Heat cycle of dairy animals is usually around 19-24 days. After calving the animals should be inseminated by around 45- 60 days for better conception rates.

Feeding management

Feed may cost around 60-70% of total cost of production of milk in the farm condition. Hence, proper feeding management may become a necessary aspect for successful dairy farming. Farmers should provide ample amount of fresh, green and good quality fodder to the animals rather than providing only dry fodders. This practice may help in cutting extra cost of concentrates. With the provision of good quality leguminous fodder such as Berseem, Lucerne, etc. cows may sufficiently produce 7 kg milk per day without feeding of concentrates. As a thumb rule animals should feed 2.5 to 3.5% of animals’ body weight on dry matter basis. Green fodder may have 8-35% dry matter in them depending upon variety, age of harvesting, season of year, etc. Green maize may contain 20-35% dry matter in them at harvesting time. Balance amount of dry fodder with greens (20- 40 parts of total ration on dry matter basis) will be beneficial for animals’ digestive system. Mineral mixtures should be supplied to them. Homemade jaggery mixed with black salt may provide good source of energy and minerals to the animals. High concentrate feeding should be avoided to the animals. Provision of fresh and clean drinking water should be made available to the animals round the clock. During the advanced stage (say from 6 months onwards) of the pregnancy, animals should be provided with 20% extra ration than their normal days.

Heeding management

Day to day care and management practice is termed as heeding management for the animals. Hygiene maintenance with proper housing is necessary for the animals. In this increasing temperature scenario of climate, the provision of comfortable house to the animals becomes necessary. Cleaning of animals, their shed should be practiced on regular period should be followed. Regular grooming and milking period offers a good time to check animals for any abnormalities. Excreta of the animals should be properly disposed of at regular mode. Mangers of animals should be cleaned regularly. Avoid damp conditions inside the house premise of animals.

Weeding management

Weeding (Culling) may be understood as the removal of unwanted, unnecessary and uneconomical circumstances from the herd of animals. Culling rate of the dairy animals may be around 25% at a farm. However, the replacement for those animals should be produced at own farm. Animals which become repeat breeders or are suffering continuously from some chronic diseases should be culled immediately. Any animal suspect of infectious disease such as mastitis or others should be isolated and treated possibly or else culled from the herd.

Health management

Maintenance of proper health of whole herd becomes necessary for well being of both animals and farmers. Regular vaccination and deworming schedule should be followed for better health maintenance of animals. Following good feeding, heeding management of animals minimize the animals issues. Veterinarians may be consulted soon if some complexities arise at the farm. First aid box should be maintained at the farm always for small issues.

Improved milking practices

Proper milking practices greatly help in enhancing the milk quality. Hygienic milking hands or machines should be assured while milking animals. Regular cleaning of these machines or hand reduces the chances of outer sources of contamination to the milk. Hands or machines should be dry as well. Dipping of udder teats with 1% KMnO4 is found to reduce the chances of mastitis in dairy animals. Utensils that receive milk should be cleaned and dried. It should have as much less curves or joints as it may have. In addition to this, health of both animals and milkers should be taken care of. Turban may be used by the milkers and they should follow full hand milking. Milk may be collected separately for different cows and not pooled with others till final distribution to the market.

Improved marketing

Removal of middleman may enhance profit margin from selling of milk. Additionally, value addition of milk such as making products out of it may increase profit from milk. Branding of milk, certification from regulatory bodies, etc. may enhance selling price of same milk than normal one. One new concept of selling breed specific milk is coming into the market which fetches more money to the farmers. Especially, the indigenous breeds which have great demand as for Sahiwal, Gir, etc. Sometimes, double selling price may be obtained through this marketing strategy only. Milk is supplied in air tight hygienic bottles to door steps of the consumers. Informations about each cows’ nutrition, management and nutritious value of the milk is highlighted in the bottle or their advertisement. Similar ventures may be adopted by small scale farmers also to make more income from same business.


In conclusion, it may be stated that adulteration of milk must be completely cut off from the market. It is dangerous for the life and a great threat to food safety of humankind. Even though the productivity of animals is less but with good husbandry practices it may be improved. In order to make more amount of money from dairy business, good animal husbandry practices in terms of enhanced breeding, feeding, heeding, and weeding management may be followed which will reduce unwanted loss and adds up to the income of farmers. In addition to this, improved marketing practices are anticipated to increase the profit level further. Hygienic milk production offers great scope for production of good quality milk and hence may fetch more money. Moreover, good quality milk will be fruitful for both humans and animals’ life.