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Dairy Production Farming and Management Techniques

Robert is Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management

Dairy Farming

Dairy Farming

Dairy Production Farming

Dairy farming is one of the emerging profitable business to agribusiness farmers and it involves the production and processing of milk for human consumption in different countries. Milk from dairy cattle increases the digestibility of other types of food in the body and this accelerate the demand for the dairy products.

Breeds of Cows

The following are breeds for cattle:

Holstein

This breed has black and white colour. Holstein has a potential of weighting an average of 625 kg under good management. It is able to supply required milk, fat, and protein.

Jersey

Jersey under a good management, it weights a range of 400–500 kg. It is generally smallest breed and has a light brown colour. Jersey cows are able to provide butterfat and protein.

Milking Shorthorn

This breed is commonly known due to its skin colour. It is mostly red, white, and brownish in appearance.

Ayrshires

This breed is smaller than the Holstein and it has red and white markings. Ayrshires are commonly known by their light to deep cherry red with or without white markings on their body

Guernseys

This breed looks similar to Ayrshires. It has light brown or red markings and white patches and this makes it to be easily recognized.

Brown Swiss

This breed is similar in size as Holsteins.

Crossbred cattle

This is the mating of animals having different characteristics to produce offsprings having a combined better characteristics i.e. improved on cattle performance. Holstein Friesian may be crossbred with Sahiwal to produce an offspring with a mixture of qualities of the two.

Production

Make sure you select and keep cows with promising better performances for high milks which in turn increase the profits.

Conformation

When selecting the breeds for mating make sure you select those with good conformation i.e. uniformity of its body among others.


Housing

Make sure you construct a good house for keeping your cows. Make sure the house is easy to clean and is easier to collect manures. A good house result in a better production. When constructing a cow house make sure you observe this spacing requirement of 1.2 x 2.4 m for each cow. Make sure you observe the temperature in a calf house to be around 10°C (50° F) having less than a humidity of 80%. Ensure the house has good air movement or circulation all the time (good ventilation). Make sure you do not combine cows of different age as each of them has a different spacing requirement. Cows of different sizes has also different feeding program.

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Dehorning

Make sure you dehorned calves at young age because there is less horn tissue which can make the calve to be in pain and prone to infection.

Removing extra teats

Extra teats make milking difficult, make sure you remove extra tits. Make sure you remove them when the calf is one to two months old.

Ruminant

A cow is a ruminant animal, which means is an animal having four chambers. And these chambers we are talking about being; rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. This is unlike humans who have a single stomach digestive system. Make sure cows feed has the following nutrient ingredients; Energy, Protein, Minerals, Water, Vitamins.

Creating a Balanced Diet

To create a balanced ration, make sure you know the following; the weight of the cow, the amount of forage the cow will consume among others.

Roughages and forages

Make sure you provide roughage and forages to cows. You can provide the following; Hay, corn silage, haylages, and greens. Take note that cows are ruminants, which allows them to break down hard-to-digest fiber found in plants so make sure you provide feeds enrich with fibers.

Hay

Hay is a common roughage made from legumes and is required by the cow for better performance. Examples of hay are alfalfa, and grasses like timothy grass. Make sure you cut hay and dried it in the sun. After the hay is sun dried, make sure you bale it and store it for future use.

Haylage

This is made from hay cut early in the season and is stored in a silo for future use. Make sure Haylage are green. It is known that Haylages are more nutritious than hays as haylage contains leaves, where most plant nutrients are found.

Concentrates

Concentrates are cow feeds, which are sources of energy. As a dairy farmer, make sure cows do not take these concentrates in larger amount than the required. These concentrates can be made at home or purchased. The following are examples; Grains (corn, oats, and barley etc.), Distillery and brewing byproducts, Oilseed meals (soybean, linseed, and canola meal etc.), Whole seeds (soybean and cotton seed) among others.

Calf feeding

Make sure the calf, is able to feed colostrum during its first three days. After this period, then you can feed your calves sour colostrum, whole milk, or milk replacer. You can feed your calves bottled milk just as human babies do. After a few days you start feeding your calves dry feeds. Make sure you prevent calves from starving or underfeeding as it can lead to underdeveloped calves or cause the calf to eat too fast when you provide the next meal. Make sure you prevent the calves from overfeeding too by considering and providing the right amount of feeds to calves. When feeding your calves, make sure the house is clean and well ventilated. Make sure all feeding and watering equipments are kept clean all the time. Where possible feed your calve at the same time each every day.

Weaning

Make sure you wean your calves when they are eating an average feed of 1 to 2 Kilograms of calf starter feed each day continuously in a row. You might be wondering as to what does this weaning means; Weaning means the calf moves from a liquid diet to dry feed only. Make sure Heifers are gaining 0.7 kg for small breed and 1 kg for large breeds a day to ensure they are ready to be bred around 14 months of age and calve out at 23 months as recommended.

Water

Make sure feed and clean water is available all the time as calves requires more water.

Feeding schedule

Make sure you feed your calves or cows several meals a day instead of one or two meals only.

Observe lead feeding

This is an increase in the amount of grain and protein, which a dry cow is able to eat throughout the two weeks before it calves to gain more energy for milking.

Health

Make sure your cows or calves are always in good health. Consult your local veterinary officers for assistance whenever the cows are sick. Make sure the cow house is clean always to avoid build up of diseases. Where necessary, observe biosecurity measures which aim at providing protection to your farm.

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