Did you select the right kind of animals for your dairy farm?


Both cows and buffaloes give milk. Generally cross bred cows such as Holstein Friesian, Jersey etc give more milk compared to buffaloes or indegenous cows like Gir, Sahiwal etc. But the fat content of cow milk is lesser than buffaloes. For cow milk, the fat percentage generally ranges from 3% to 5% whereas for buffalo milk it ranges from 6% to 9%. When you start your dairy farm or expand an existing farm there are some important factors to consider while deciding the type of animals. Let's look at the top two factors to consider before selecting dairy animals.

Customers of dairy farms

Customers of your dairy farm products

It is very important to ensure that your farm should make profits, which means, that you should get more income than what you spend. You will get better returns if your customers pay you well.

Hence the first step is to find out who your likely customers are. If you intend to supply milk to private dairies, or co-operatives, they will pay you for milk on the basis of the fat percentage and the SNF. SNF stands for Solids Not Fat which includes lactose, caesins, whey proteins, vitamins & minerals.

SNF percentage is usually similar for cows and buffaloes. Buffalo milk however, has higher fat than cow milk. The price that you get for milk differs across regions, co-operatives and dairies and so please check the rates locally. You must have a deep understanding of the way your customers consume the milk of your dairy farm.

Types of Customers

a. Families -If your customers are people who buy raw milk for home consumption then they may have a preference for buffalo milk or cow milk. You may have customers who prefer milk from indigenous cows, also called as desi cows. Make sure to get an exact count of how many such customers are available and their milk requirement per day before you decide to buy the animals.

b. Dairy Product Manufacturers -If your customers are entities or shop owners or hotels who make milk based sweets they usually accept milk on the basis of dry matter yield from milk. It is often called as khoa or mawa, in India. They will take a litre of milk and heat it till it becomes solid and measure the weight in grams. Small scale dairy product makers will test the fat and SNF of milk during purchase every day.

c. Tea Stalls - Small shpos that make tea /coffee usually prefer milk in pouches with low fat. Both cow milk and bufallo milk usually works for them.

Breeding objectives in dairy farming

Breeding Objectives

The second factor is the breeding objective of your dairy farm. You may not always get the best dairy animal in the market. Just think, will you ever sell your best animal in the market? While deciding which type of animal to purchase you have to decide the breed of animal that you need.

You can choose a breed that will have specific features such as milk yield, reproductive efficiency, immunity to local environment, cultural importance etc. For example if you want to increase income of your farm by improving the next generation of animals through breeding then you can choose a particular breed and improve it with better breeding policy.

You can use semen with the desired traits and create good quality of animals. This can be a separate source of revenue generation for your farm. People who want to buy cows from you will also be benefitted as they will get good breed of animals with proper records maintained. 

Dairy Products in dairy farming

Dairy products from same type of milk?

It will help one understand customers better if they know what kinds of dairy products can be made from cow and buffalo milk. Not all kinds of dairy products can be made from cow milk. Similarly a few traditional Indian dairy products cannot be made from buffalo milk.

Why is it so? This is because the constituents of both types of milk are slighly different. Buffalo milk has lower cholesterol but more SNF and fat compared with cow's milk. In buffalo milk higher quantities of carotene get converted into vitamin A as compared to cow's milk which has a yellowish colour.

The best quality curd, paneer, lassi, buttermilk can be prepared from buffalo milk and not cow milk. In the same way acid coagulated Indian sweets such as rasgullas can be made from cow milk and not buffalo milk. Ice-cream Khowa or mawa can be made from both types of milk, but the best quality khowa used for gulabjamuns is made using cow milk.

Dairy management practices

Cows and buffaloes are ruminants and hence their digestive systems are similar. Most of the scientific management practices for both kinds of dairy animals are similar. The same principles of disease management, feeding and breeding can be applied to both. However due to traditional practices, there are some differences in in management which have emerged over the years.

In case of indegenous cows and buffaloes, let down of milk is slower compared to cross-bred cows and needs stimulation. Similarly gestation periods in cross-bred cows is statistically lower with higher conception rates. Traditionally indegenous cows and buffaloes have been housed in tie-system whereas loose housing system is preferred for cross-bred cows. With the right guidance one can manage both type of dairy animals.

To summarize this article, the two factors that you need to keep in mind while buying animals for your farm are the need of customers and the breeding objective of your farm.

To learn more on scientific dairy farming practices CLICK HERE