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  • Writer's pictureNITARA

5 Components of Dairy Farming

Dairy farming in a country like India depends on various factors. The entire setup of the dairy farm and the practices followed are responsible for the production and the farmer’s income. Before starting a Dairy Farm there are a few components that form the building block of the Dairy ecosystem on the farmer’s end. They are namely:

1. Breeding

Good fertility management is potentially one of the most effective means of improving the sustainability, efficiency, and profitability of dairy farms. Good fertility management means cows must calve at the right time of the year, must be seen in heat, served efficiently, and get in-calf as quickly as possible.

Objective: - Objective of fertility management includes: -

  • To produce enough replacement.

  • To improve dairy herd productivity.

Key activities/breeding management best practices:

  • Identifying breeding objective, cost-effective & efficient breeding options § Identifying which cows are on the heat requires consistent observations, including night-time observations.

  • The nutritive requirement for reproduction should be adequately supplied; § Accurate records/memories on the reproductive status of each cow are essential for efficient fertility management.

  • Milking cows need to be well fed to rebreed. If cows are too thin or over fat, they will have poorer fertility.

  • Evaluate periodically the status of the herd.

Young Stock Management Sufficient young stock reared will mean that no animals need to be bought from outside the farm. This will reduce the risk of bringing diseases to the farm and increase the farm's profitability and sustainability.


  • Rearing enough young stock (pregnant heifers) to replace all culled dairy cows.

  • Reducing Average age at first calving

  • Reducing Mortality rate of calves up to 2 weeks of age Key activities/management best practices:

  • Calves must be born under hygienic conditions.

  • Calving cows must be provided with a clean dry area in which to calve down.

  • The calves’ umbilical cord should be sprayed with iodine solution (7%) immediately after birth.

  • Calves must be given a good drink of quality colostrum early in their lives. Each calf should receive 4 L of colostrum within 6 h of birth.

  • Calves must be always provided with adequate clean drinking water.

  • The calf should have a separate pen and should be constructed with good natural ventilation against heat stress and protection from any severe cold weather conditions.

  • Permanent identification of each calf (with an ear tag) and good record keeping will always benefit the farmer in the long run.

  • Weaned heifers require a balanced diet of quality roughages and concentrate. The feeding varies with the age of the calf.

  • Well-reared heifers will show signs of heat early.

2. Nutrition

The quantity and quality of the feed and water provided largely determine the dairy animal’s health and productivity, and the quality and safety of its milk. This Fact Sheet describes good dairy farming practices for managing animal nutrition, both feeding, and watering. The suggested practices are set out under the following headings:

Secure feed and water supplies from sustainable sources

Plan ahead to ensure that the herd’s feed and water requirements are met Budgeting the herd’s feed and water requirements in advance reduces risk and may help the dairy farmer identify less expensive sources of feed.

Planning feed and water requirements ahead can enhance the sustainability of the farm enterprise. Utilize appropriate feeding and watering methods and infrastructure to ensure all livestock have adequate access.

Implement sustainable nutrient, irrigation, and pest management practices when growing feed Many farming systems rely on homegrown feed for their livestock. Implementing good dairy farming practices includes managing the flow of nutrients on the farm, including the appropriate use of effluent and fertilizers for growing feed.

Finite resources such as water for irrigation must also be managed sustainably. Implementing integrated pest management strategies can reduce chemical use.

Source farm inputs from suppliers implementing sustainable systems where possible, dairy farmers should consider sourcing farm inputs such as feed, water, fertilizer, and energy from suppliers adopting sustainable practices, and so reduce the environmental impact of their own enterprise.

3. Health

The suggested good dairy farming practices for animal health are set out under the following headings:

Establish the herd with resistance to disease

Choose breeds and animals well suited to the local environment and farming system Different dairy species and breeds have different requirements.

Selecting dairy animals that are suited to the local environment will greatly reduce the risks to productivity posed by animal health and welfare problems. Of relevance are the animals’ ability to adapt to climatic extremes, feed quality, local parasites (especially ticks), and their acquired resistance to endemic disease.

The demands on the animals also vary with the farming system. Housed animals may have a higher exposure to communicable diseases, whilst extensively maintained animals are more prone to parasitic infections.

Animals introduced from different locations may be vulnerable to endemic diseases in the new location due to lack of previous exposure and the development of immunity.

Determine herd size and stocking rate based on management skills, local conditions, and the availability of land, infrastructure, feed, and other inputs larger herds and higher stocking rates generally require a higher level of organization, infrastructure, and skill to manage.

The risks are magnified in these specialized dairy farming systems. Disease burdens can be higher and individual animals requiring intervention can be more difficult to identify and treat. Good planning and management skills are required to manage risks that have serious consequences.

In developing countries, overstocking, droughts, and fires should be considered when determining stocking rates. Drastic seasonal changes (eg Monsoons, deep snow, sub-zero temperatures, high humidity or heat) may require different farming systems (eg housed or pastures) depending on the time of year. Fodder supplies must be carefully planned for all contingencies as dairy animals require a constant source of good quality feed and water at all times.

Vaccinate all animals as recommended or required by local animal health authorities

Vaccination is a useful tool to limit the impact of disease by increasing the immunity of the animal population to specific pathogens.

Animal health authorities can provide dairy farmers with information about the specific vaccines which are recommended for their area.

In some dairying regions, dairy farmers are required by law to vaccinate their stock against serious contagious diseases.

4. Milking

Milking is the defining activity of dairy farming. Consumers demand high standards of milk quality, so milking management aims to minimize microbial, chemical, and physical contamination. Milking management covers all aspects of the process of obtaining milk from livestock quickly and effectively while assuring the health of the animals and the quality of the milk. Consistency in the day-to-day implementation of milking procedures is an important part of good dairy farming practice for milking.

The suggested good dairy farming practices for milking hygiene are set out under the following headings:

Ensure milking routines do not injure the animals or introduce contaminants into milk

1. Identify individual animals that require special milking management Individual animals should be easily identifiable by all people who meet them. The system used should be permanent, allowing individual animals to be identified from birth to death. Additional temporary identification systems should be in place on farms to manage animals that require special handling at milkings, such as treated or diseased animals, or animals producing milk that is not suitable for human consumption.

2. Ensure appropriate udder preparation for milking Wash and dry dirty teats before milking. Only milk animals with clean, dry teats. Check the udder and teats for any abnormalities which may indicate clinical mastitis. The foremilk may be extracted and checked for abnormalities before each animal is milked. This may be a regulatory or contractual requirement for dairy animals in some countries.

3. Milk animals regularly using consistent milking techniques Institute regular milking times and routines. Ensure a good milking technique is consistently applied. Incorrect or variable milking techniques can result in a higher mastitis risk and injury to the animal.

4. The correct technique for machine milking is to:

• prepare animals properly before milking.

• attach the cups to clean, dry teats.

• avoid unnecessary air ingress at cup attachment.

• avoid overmilking.

• remove cups gently; and

• when necessary, apply teat disinfectant to each teat after milking according to national recommendations and regulations.

The correct technique for hand-milking is to:

• restrain the animal to be milked using a method that does not cause pain or injury.

• ensure the milker’s hands are clean and dry.

• prepare the teats for milking, ensuring they are clean and dry.

• only use appropriate teat lubricants according to national recommendations and regulations.

• handle the teats gently, ideally using the ‘fist-grip’ method, avoiding any discomfort, pain, or injury to the animal.

• use buckets that are non-corrosive, easy to clean and disinfect, and do not taint the milk.

• avoid contaminating the collected milk with foreign material such as dust, dirt, soil, urine, manure (faeces) and protect it from flies; and

• when necessary, apply teat disinfectant to each teat after milking according to national recommendations and regulations.

4. Segregate milk harvested from sick or treated animals for appropriate disposal Animals whose milk is unfit for human consumption should be milked last or with a separate bucket or system. Store or discard abnormal milk in a manner appropriate to the risk posed to people, animals, and the environment.

5. Ensure milking equipment is correctly installed and maintained Manufacturers’ and local, regional, or national recommendations should be followed for construction, installation, performance, and maintenance of the equipment used for milking. Inspect and replace perishable components if evidence of wear is found. Materials used for milking equipment that meet milk and with cleaning and disinfecting fluids should be made from adequately resistant materials and should not impart a taint to milk.

5. Management

  • Ensure proper feeding and housing for clean milk production:

  • Cows should be kept clean and dry, under comfortable conditions.

  • The animal feed should be clean and nutritionally sound with all the required nutrients in the right proportions and free from contamination.

  • Maintain good animal health management for hygienic milk,

  • production.

  • Managing the hygiene of milking equipment and utensils for clean milk production.

  • Wash udder, teats, and flank of the animal with clean water preferably add a disinfectant.

  • Wipe with a clean cloth.

  • Check for mastitis before milking with a strip cup or any other method.

  • Maintain milker hygiene.

  • Keep the milking environment clean and comfortable.

  • Store milk in a cool and clean place.

  • Milk should be delivered to the market as soon as possible


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