Consultancy services

Our core objective as your consultant is to make sure that you succeed in your business. We have high quality solutions & services that fulfill all livestock farming needs, regardless of the size and scale of operations. We can provide customized solutions and services to ensure sustainable production of milk and meat to maximize profits for farmers and milk and meat processors.

The areas of focus for entrepreneurs in these sectors before starting the business are:

Dairy Farm Business Planning

  • Housing
  • Shed design.
  • Research species and breed.
  • Decide on a food source.
  • Create a breeding plan.
  • Study farming practices
  • Invest in capital.
  • Find a good source for animals.
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  • Animal housing is the most essential factor in dairy farming. A good housing leads to good management practices and ultimately optimum production. The housing of dairy animals depends upon:-
  • Number of animals
  • Type of breed of animals
  • Local environmental conditions
  • Finances available
  • Facilities to be provided
  • For housing it should also be considered that animals should have five types of freedoms
  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to express normal behavior
  • Freedom from fear and distress
  • Before designing the shed for your animals, you must cater for some basics which are :-
  • Comfort
  • Safety
  • Economy
  • Convenience
  • Location and basic design is very important for your shed and animals.
  • Ventilation and protection from the rain and winds is also very important.
  • Environmental condition of the area is also taken into consideration before starting the shed layout.

The most common dairy animals are cows, goats (good for a small farm) and buffalo. Each one has many dairy breeds, and local knowledge is your best way to choose between them. Rule out breeds that can't thrive in your climate.

  • For each breed, divide annual upkeep cost by annual milk production to find production cost per unit of milk.
  • Is there local demand for the breed's milk (based on species and milk fat %)? Also consider butter and cheese (where a high fat % is useful)?
  • How much time and money does it take to raise a calf to milk-producing age? How much can you sell the male calves for?
  • Concentrated feed requires less labor but more money. New farms often save on costs by supplementing it with Management Intensive Rotational Grazing (MIRG). Look at land rental prices in your area and determine how many cattle per acre it can support.
  • Livestock need about 4% of their weight in forage each day. Ideally, your pasture should produce more than this at peak season, so you can stockpile the surplus for winter.
  • Renting land is usually better than purchasing for a new farm. Wait until your farm is well-established and you no longer need the rental arrangements

Dairy bulls have a reputation for dangerous behavior, and in any case raising one year round gets expensive. The safer options are paying for a bull's service at breeding time, or practicing artificial insemination (AI). AI is almost always the cheapest option, and has equal or higher success rates when performed correctly (ideally by trained AI techs).

  • Artificial insemination programs are now widespread the world over. The savings are not as significant and the programs vary in quality, but it is still usually worth it.
  • Male to female herd ratio varies between species and with the male's age. A young bull can typically service 20–25 cows, while a healthy, mature bull may be able to handle up to 40.

If you don't have dairy farm experience already, take some time to learn about breeding, calving, manure management, weaning, milking cows, and crop management. Farming requires a great deal of time, work, and knowledge, so walk into it with open eyes.

  • If this is all new to you, try to get some work experience on another dairy farm first.

 A farm requires a large one-time expenditure to get started. Buying an existing dairy farm makes the task simpler, and can save money if you're willing to do some repairs yourself. Whether you plan to buy or start it all by yourself, make sure you'll have the following facilities:-

  • A sterile facility for storing milk, and for pasteurizing if required in your area
  • Dry, sunny sheds or barns protected from weather and temperature changes
  • Milking parlor with stanchions
  • Feed storage and manure storage
  • Separate living space for calves
  • Equipment (including tractors) and equipment storage area
  • Well for watering cattle, plus water transport system to tanks in pasture
  • Irrigation system for pasture (optional).

Inspect all dairy animals personally before buying, including several milking tests. The animal should be healthy and vaccinated against disease. Ideally, purchase the animals right after calving, on its second or third lactation (when milk production is highest).Wait to buy the second half the herd until the first group is about to go dry, so your farm can produce milk year round.

If you're starting with just a few animals, talk to nearby dairy farmers for advice on selling to local stores and individuals. If you have a slightly larger herd, you can get a more stable income by selling the milk to a company that will handle distribution

Put all your financial estimates into a plan that covers the first few years of your business. In addition to the necessary items above, remember to include the estimated cost of veterinary care per animal, and the cost of any labor you plan to hire. Also look into an additional source of profit like selling manure.

  • Contact government institutions about subsidies and loans for farmers before you take a loan from a bank.
  • Use the average milk prices (or slightly lower) over the past few years when estimating future profits. You don't want your business to suffer if milk prices drop.

Dairy Farm Management

On day-to-day dairy farm management and consultation, Al Barkah focuses on the economic side of dairy farming by working with dairy farmers on general farm management and other farm management practices. Areas of management which are of prime focus for the dairy farmer, which includes the following;

  • Nutritional management
  • Management according to age of animal
  • According to physiological stage of animal
  • According to the season (Hot and cold)
  • Health management
  • Production management  
  • Record keeping management

Dairy nutrition is essential to understand because the nutrient requirements of dairy cows at various stages of lactation are different. For fulfilling their requirements combination of various feed ingredients in a cost-effective manner is essential to run the successful dairy farm.  

Use feeding management strategies to improve feed dry matter intake (DMI) and milk production.

Feeding management tips are:-

  • Feed grain meals of less than 4 kg of grain per feeding
  • Feed grain in several small meals daily rather than two large ones, especially in hot weather
  • Feed protein supplement after or with the grain meal
  • Feed a forage meal 1 to 1 1/2 hours before a grain meal
  • Combine forages (Eg. haylage plus silage) or feed computerized formulated ration.
  • Have fresh feed available in bunks or mangers after milking time
  • Adapt feeding strategies to the eating behavior of your animals
  • Clean mangers and bunks daily especially in hot weather
  • Clean water bowls and troughs frequently
  • Provide at least 60 cm (2 feet) of bunk space per cow
  • Allow cows access to feed for at least 22 hours of the day
  • Healthy, contented cows eat more feed
  • Frequent foot trimming will improve cow mobility and intake.
  • Mineral licks and/or mineral supplements are an important part of the animal's diet.
  • Moldy feed or feed stored in the same area as pesticides and other contaminants can transfer dangerous toxins to the milk must avoid using it. Use high quality feed which have all necessary nutrients in proper proportion according to the requirement of animal.
  • Neutrional management directly effects the production of animal and ultimately your profit. There is a high need to manage the feed according to the animal’s body requirement because at different stage of the life animals require different nutrients in different proportions.
  • Dairy animals have high nutrition requirements compared to animals raised for meat.
  • Balancing a ration completely is the only way of designing a proper feeding program. 
  • Improper nutrition can lead to lower milk production or lower quality milk. Balanced ration formulation is the science which is handled by the nutrition specialists and veterinarian’s with the help of computerized ration formulation which you can only get by consulting the specialists.
  • Further information can be given on your demand.
  • Health care of dairy cattle can be best described by age and state of the animal as set out in the following sections.
  • Newborn calf:

First three days:-

  • The newborn calf needs to be cleaned with dry a towel or clean and dry hay. This will stimulate respiration and blood circulation. 
  • Remove slime from the nose and mouth to assist breathing and holding up the rear legs of the calf, let the head hang down to release any water in the lungs, mouth or nose. 
  • If the navel is too long, cut it and leave two to three inches from the stalk then dip the navel in tincture of iodine to prevent local infection. This procedure is important for prevention of navel-ill (omphalitis) and helps the umbilicus heal quickly. 
  • Feed the calf with colostrum within one to two hours after birth. The optimum time for absorption of antibodies through calf’s small intestine is in the first six to eight hours. Colostrum should provide the calf with 10 to 15 per cent of its body weight. It is essential that the calf receives enough colostrum during the first 12 to 24 hours to prevent early infection. The colostrum is high in nutritive value; it contains antibodies IgG and IgM from the cow’s immune system which form passive resistance to many infections.
  • In general, removal of the calf from the dam should occur after calving to the isolate pen which should be dry and clean. Straw for bedding must be clean and dry and should be changed regularly. In some regions rearing crossbred dairy cattle, the owner leaves the calf to suck milk directly from the dam during the first three to four days before being separated from it.
  • Calves from three days to one month :-
  • Feeding with whole milk is expensive so milk replacer is used for routine feeding, which is twice a day. Bucket feeding is commonly used it should be cleaned well between uses to avoid digestive disorders due to poor hygiene. 
  • Train the calf to take concentrate and roughage at about one week of age. Solid food stimulates rumen development. In the pen, clean water must be available at all times.
  • Calves are numbered using an ear-tag or tattoo. Removal of extra-teats could be done in the first weeks. 
  • Common health problems during this period are omphalitis (navel-ill), diarrhea (scours), respiratory infection (pneumonia) and One month of age to weaning (3–4 months) 
  • Calves should be dehorned at one to two months of age. 
  • All female calves should be vaccinated against brucellosis (S19) at three to eight months of age. 
  • Weaning should take place at about three to four months of age or when the calf is able to eat roughage and concentrate of more than one kilogram per day or at calf body weight between 80 to 90 kg (depending on the breed). 
  • De-worm the calf against internal parasites such as roundworm, tapeworm and flukes. Also, eliminate external parasites such as ticks by spraying. 
  • In this period problems to be aware of, are parasites, bloat and arthritis.
  • Calves 4–12 months of age:-
  • Vaccinate against FMD (foot-and-mouth disease), hemorrhagic septicemia and/or anthrax every six months.
  • De-worm against internal parasites such as roundworm, tapeworm and flukes, also eliminate external parasites such as ticks, by spraying.
  • In this period problems to be aware of include parasites, tick fever, pneumonia, diarrhea, bloat and arthritis.

Heifers 12–18 months of age (estrus and pregnancy):-

  • Record the growth rate for which should not be less than 270 kg in crossbred or 300 kg in pure-bred cattle at first service.
  • Take blood for brucellosis and test it.
  • Vaccinate against FMD (foot-and-mouth disease) and hemorrhagic septicemia every six months.
  • De-worming should be carried out every six months.
  • Heat detection should be carried out to determine the right time for artificial insemination and use of selected semen in accordance with the breeding plan of the region or farms.
  • Heifers requiring repeated insemination (more than three times) need to be checked by a veterinarian.
  • Heifers over 18 months old and/or weighing more than 270 kg which have not shown signs of estrus need to be checked by a veterinarian.
  • Pregnancy diagnosis should be done on each animal at 45 to 60 days after the last insemination.
  • Common health problems that occur during this age are tick fever, and other infectious diseases and parasites.
  • Pregnant heifers – prepartum (24–36 months)
  • Feed with good quality roughage and give concentrate as a supplement to pregnant heifers in poor condition.
  • Mineral supplement can be used for pregnant heifers to prevent metabolic diseases such as

milk fever.

  • Vaccinate against FMD, hemorrhagic septicemia and other diseases as a vaccination program in the dairy region.
  • De-worming for external and internal parasites should be carried out routinely. Signs that the cow is approaching parturition are that it becomes uneasy and separates from the herd. Signs of calving include enlargement of the udder and belly, and discharge from the vulva.
  • In this period, one must be alert for heifers mastitis (mastitis before calving) and abortion.
  • At parturition:-
  • The owner needs to prepare the calving area which should be clean, dry, quiet and isolated to keep the prepartum cow close for the owner to notice and provide help if the cow shows signs of difficulty during the birth.
  • Signs of calving include enlargement of the vulva, distention of the teats and udder, loss of ligaments at the side of the tail-head, and restlessness. Other indicators are a marked increase in the amount of mucous, cervical seal liquefication and increasing frequency of abdominal and uterine contractions.
  • If delivery is determined to take longer than 24 hours and the allantoic sac has not protruded, the cow will require assistance from a veterinarian.
  • If there has been no expulsion of the fetus or any contractions for more than two hours after the rupture of the allantois sac, veterinary assistance will be required.
  • During this period, there is the possibility of milk fever, uterine prolapse, or downer cow occurring.
  • After calving: seven days postpartum
  • Natural expulsion of the fetal membrane should occur three to eight hours after calving or within 12 hours. If the fetal membrane is retained over 12 hours, the cow will require assistance from a veterinarian.
  • Milk colostrum and feed to calf as soon as possible (within six hours).
  • Remove the fetal membrane from the calving area or pen floor, clean the pen and the rearing area of the dam to reduce risk of infection by flies.
  • Feed the cow with good quality and quantity of food which is palatable because in this period the cow has less appetite and may remain stressed from delivery.
  • During this period, there is the possibility of retained placenta, metritis, milk fever, uterine prolapse and mastitis.
  • Milking:-
  • Be aware of weight loss after parturition which is a sign of insufficient energy in the diet.
  • Try to group cows for feeding and management according to their milk production.
  • One month after parturition check the reproductive tract for uterine involution, metritis and ovarian functions.
  • The cow should show signs of estrus within 60 days postpartum; cows requiring more than three inseminations need to be checked by a veterinarian.
  • During this period, there are risks from mastitis, metritis, abomassal displacement, acidosis and ketosis.
  • Dry period:-
  • Check for pregnancy diagnosis once again before allowing the cow to dry off.
  • Drying-off should allow at least two months before the coming parturition to let the cow rest and prepare to calve. Prevention of mastitis during the dry period and after calving is important.
  • Maintaining the routine vaccination program.
  • Treat for internal and external parasites.
  • Hoof trimming can be done during this period.
  • Maintaining good feed management during the dry period.
  • Replacement heifers:-
  • Firstly, the health record of the purchased animals needs to be correct. Information on vaccinations and health problems as well as breeding certificates and individual cards from former owners are valuable. Quarantine may be necessary before new animals can enter a farm. Shipping animals creates stress, so cattle should be handled as gently as possible when loading or unloading. Shipment should be done in the shortest possible period of time and during the coolest part of the day. If there is any doubt about the health of the cattle their temperature should be taken before loading. It is more economical to treat feverish animals and delay shipment than to risk stress-induced illness or even death.
  • Culling:-
  • Smallholders like to retain all cows, even those with low milk production or which never conceive. Good herd management requires the culling of unproductive animals from the herd and replacement with improved stock. Unwillingness of some smallholders to cull according to good practice may be related to sentiment and distraction by other agricultural enterprises which limit attention to the production levels of individual cows. Serious dairy farmers will follow the practices of culling.
  • Comfortable cows exhibit minimal stress, consume more feed and produce more milk.
  • Winter can be a rough time for the milking herd. There can be freezing rain, snow, wind chill, very cold temperatures, warm ups, then cold temperatures again. All of these conditions can take a toll on the dairy cow and milk production.
  • However, dairy cows will do quite well in cold temperatures if they are dry, protected from wind, and properly fed and watered. 
  • Controlling heat stress is important to animal well-being in the hot days.
  • Stress is continually imposed upon dairy cows to produce more and more milk. To maximize yield, it is imperative to keep cows as comfortable as possible and maintain feed intake for conversion into milk.
  • Heat stress negatively affects cow comfort, dry matter intake and subsequently milk yield thus, management strategies must be applied to counter hot/humid environmental conditions that can lead to mastitis and reduced milk quality.
  • Control is based on provision of fresh, cool, clean drinking water, and increased energy density of rations and use of feed additives, as well as the use of cooling mechanisms including shade, fans, sprinklers, tunnel ventilation, commercial coolers, cooling ponds, exit lane sprinklers and center pivots
  • Unfortunately, most cooling systems result in excess water in the cow’s environment, which, along with warm temperatures, provides ideal conditions for the growth of mastitis-causing bacteria. It must be handled by your management.
  • Thus, the cows surroundings must be kept as clean and dry as possible to reduce microbial growth. Additionally, the recommended premilking udder prep and milking time hygiene must be followed precisely to avoid new infections with environmental mammary gland pathogens.
  • Bulk tank monitoring is critical during times of heat stress to ensure that mastitis control practices are indeed working and that maximum milk quality is maintained. Finally, heat stress control practices should also be applied to replacement heifers, as these animals constitute the future milking herd and their well-being must be considered in an overall herd health program.
  • Health management:-
  • Vaccination
  • Deworming
  • Metabolic and deficiency disease control.
  • Control of ectoparasites
  • Mastitis control
  • Provide comfort to animal then animal shows good health and production.

 

 

 

 

  • Production management :-
  • The production of your farm is directly linked with your feeding management and strategy of feeding to your animal.
  • The feeding requirement of animal depends on the physiological stage of the animal.
  • So, for getting optimum production from your animal you must have understanding of physiological stage and requirement of nutrients at that particular stage of the animal.
  • Unfortunately most of the farmers have no idea about this type of management and face huge production losses just because of their unawareness.

 

 

  • Record keeping management

Without record keeping successful dairy farming is not possible. Different types of records which should be kept at dairy farm are:

  • Record of Animal Strength with their age, Sex, Date of Birth, Date of purchase etc. 
  • Breeding Record
  • Production Record
  • Calf  Record
  • Feeding Record
  • Health Record
  • Mortality Record
  • Sale Record
  • Expenditures and Profit Record
  • Manpower Record

For successful record keeping, there should be some software or registers for different records

Diseases Controls Managements

Livestock diseases contribute to an important set of problems within livestock production systems. These include animal welfare, productivity losses, uncertain food security, loss of income and negative impacts on human health. Livestock disease management can reduce disease through improved animal husbandry practices. These include: controlled breeding, controlling entry to farm lots, and quarantining sick animals and through developing and improving antibiotics, vaccines and diagnostic tools, evaluation of ethno-therapeutic options, and vector control techniques.  

Description: 

Livestock disease management is made up of two key components:

1)    Prevention (biosecurity) measures in susceptible herds

2)    Control measures taken once infection occurs.

The probability of infection from a given disease depends on existing farm practices (prevention) as well as the prevalence rate in host populations in the relevant area. As the prevalence in the area increases, the probability of infection increases.

Preventing diseases entering and spreading in livestock populations is the most efficient and cost-effective way of managing disease (Wobeser, 2002). While many approaches to management are disease specific, improved regulation of movements of livestock can provide broader protection. A standard disease prevention programme that can apply in all contexts does not exist. But there are some basic principles that should always be observed. The following practices aid in disease prevention:

  • Elaboration of an animal health programme
  • Select a well-known, reliable source from which to purchase animals, one that can supply healthy stock, inherently vigorous and developed for a specific purpose. New animals should be monitored for disease before being introduced into the main flock.
  • Good hygiene including clean water and feed supplies.
  • Precise vaccination schedule for each herd or flock.
  • Observe animals frequently for signs of disease, and if a disease problem develops, obtain an early, reliable diagnosis and apply the best treatment, control, and eradication measures for that specific disease.
  • Dispose of all dead animals by burning, deep burying, or disposal pit.
  • Maintain good records relative to flock or herd health. These should include vaccination history, disease prob­lems and medication.

Disease surveillance allows the identification of new infections and changes to existing ones. This involves disease reporting and specimen submission by livestock owners, village veterinary staff, district and provincial veterinary officers. The method used to combat a disease outbreak depends on the severity of the outbreak. In the event of a disease outbreak the precise location of all livestock is essential for effective measures to control and eradicate contagious viruses. Restrictions on animal movements may be required as well as quarantine and, in extreme cases, slaughter. Figures 1 and 2 are photos illustrating the holistic approaches to livestock disease prevention and control.

The major impacts of climate change on livestock diseases have been on diseases that are vector-borne. Increasing temperatures have supported the expansion of vector populations into cooler areas. Such cooler areas can be either higher altitude systems (for example, livestock tick-borne diseases) or more temperate zones (for example, the outbreak of bluetongue disease in northern Europe). Changes in rainfall pattern can also influence an expansion of vectors during wetter years and can lead to large outbreaks. Climate changes could also influence disease distribution indirectly through changes in the distribution of livestock. Improving livestock disease control is therefore an effective technology for climate change adaptation.

Advantages of the technology 

Benefits of livestock disease prevention and control include: higher production (as morbidity is lowered and mortality or early culling is reduced), and avoided future control costs. When farmers mitigate disease through prevention or control, they benefit not just themselves but any others at risk of adverse outcomes from the presence of disease on that operation. At-risk populations include residents, visitors and consumers. The beneficiaries might also include at-risk wildlife populations surrounding the farm that may have direct or indirect contact with livestock or livestock-related material.

Disadvantages of the technology 

Management options may interact, so the use of one option may diminish the effectiveness of another. Another critical issue is the long-term sustainability of currently used strategies. Chemical intervention strategies such as antibiotics or vaccines are not biologically sustainable. Animals develop resistance to drugs used to control certain viruses and with each new generation of vaccine a new and more virulent strain of the virus can arise (FAO, 2003). Small-scale producers may be negatively affected by livestock disease management if the full cost of the disease management programme is directly passed onto them with no subsidy from the government (FAO, 2003b).

Livestock disease management costs include: testing and screening, veterinary services, vaccines, training of livestock keepers and veterinary staff, and perhaps changes to practices and facilities to reflect movement restrictions and quarantines when animals are added to the herd. The costs of a small-scale mastitis control programme in Peru are shown in Box 1.

Prevention and control costs are generally evaluated against expected financial losses resulting from a disease outbreak in a cost-benefit analysis. The assumption is that increased prevention and control costs lower the expected losses by diminishing the expected scale of an infection.

Livestock and animal health policy should be oriented to both the commercial and pastoral sectors and include pro-poor interventions to support the most vulnerable populations.  Government investments in infrastructure (including early warning systems, roads, abattoirs, holding pens, processing plants, air freight/ports and so on), systematic vaccination, and in research and development can all contribute to providing an enabling environment for effective livestock disease management. Removing or introducing subsidies for improved management, insurance systems and supporting income diversification practices could benefit adaptation efforts (IFAD, 2002).

In order for producers to make decisions regarding disease management, they must understand the options that they have. These options depend on disease biology, prevention techniques, tests for infection and their costs, treatments available, market reactions, as well as industry and government programs and policies. Disease biology includes transmission modes and rates, disease evolution (for example, length of time to infectious period), production losses associated with the disease, and mortality rate (where applicable).

Practical training for farmers should include:

  • Principles of anatomy and physiology of the livestock animals.
  • Principles of nutrition and pasture ecology.
  • Animal diseases of local importance: clinical and post mortem signs, epidemiology, prevention, treatment. Applying first aid, the use of basic veterinary medicines (wound treatments, dips, anthelmintics, antibiotics, trypanocides, babesiacides, vaccines, care and storage of medicines and vaccines, and the use and care of syringes).
  • The basic principles of sero-surveillance campaigns ─ how to draw blood and store sera.

Modelling disease outbreaks and spread can provide valuable information for the development of management strategies. Modelling involves studying disease distribution and patterns of spread to determine the scale of a problem.This information is used to develop a model that can predict the spread of disease. Disease modelling requires prior knowledge of animal population distributions and ecology, diseases present and methods of disease transmission. Modelling can be used to assess potential disease impacts and develop contingency plans. 

Nutritional Managements

During lactation, dairy cows have very high nutritional requirements relative to most other species. Meeting these requirements, especially for energy and protein, is challenging. Diets must have sufficient nutrient concentrations to support production and metabolic health, while also supporting rumen health and the efficiency of fermentative digestion.

Under nearly all practical management conditions, dairy cows and growing dairy heifers are fed ad lib. Thus, voluntary feed intake is the major limitation to nutrient supply in dairy cattle. Feed intake is usually characterized as dry matter intake (DMI) to compare diets of variable moistu        re concentrations. DMI is affected by both animal and fee d factors. Body size, milk production, and stage of lactation or gestation are the major animal factors. At peak DMI, daily DMI of high-producing cows may be 5% of body wt, and even higher in extremely high-producing cows.

More typical peak DMI values are in the range of 3.5%–4% of body wt. In mature cows, DMI as a percentage of body weight is lowest during the non lactating, or dry, period. In most cows, DMI declines to its lowest rate in the last 2–3 wk of gestation. Typical DMI during this period is <2% of body wt/day, with intake rates depressed more in fat cows than in thin ones. Feed intake during this period has an important relationship to postpartum health, with low DMI and associated prepartum negative energy balance increasing the risk of postpartum disease.

 After calving, DMI increases as milk production increases; however, the rate of increase in feed consumption is such that energy intake lags behind energy requirements for the first several weeks of lactation. Milk production and associated energy requirements generally peak around 6–10 wk into lactation, whereas DMI usually does not peak until 12–14 week into lactation. This lag in DMI relative to energy requirements creates a period of negative energy balance in early lactation. Cows are at greater risk of metabolic disease during this period than at other times during their lactation cycle. Management and nutritional strategies should be designed to maximize DMI through the period of late gestation and early lactation.

Feed factors also affect DMI. Total ration moisture concentrations >50% generally decrease DMI, although this may be related more to fermentation characteristics than to moisture per se, because high-moisture feeds for dairy cattle are typically from fermented (ensiled) sources. Rations high (>30%) in neutral detergent fiber (NDF) may also limit feed intake, although the degree to which this occurs is related to the source of NDF. Environment also affects feed intake with temperatures above the thermal neutral zone (>20°C [68°F]), resulting in reduced DMI. Monitoring DMI, when possible, is a useful tool in diagnosing nutritional problems in diets of dairy cows.

Energy requirements for lactating dairy cows are met primarily by carbohydrate fractions of the diet. These consist of fibrous and non fibrous carbohydrates. Fibrous carbohydrate proportions are generally measured as NDF and expressed as a percentage of dry matter. Non fiber carbohydrate (NFC) proportions are calculated by subtracting the proportions (as dry matter) of NDF, crude protein, fat, and ash from 100%. Non fiber carbohydrates primarily consist of sugars and fructans, starch, organic acids, and pectin. In fermented feeds, fermentation acids also contribute to the NFC fraction. The sum of sugars and starch is referred to as nonstructural carbohydrate (NSC), which should not be confused with NFC. Balancing fiber and NFC fractions to optimize energy intake and rumen health is a challenging aspect of dairy nutrition.

In general, fiber in the diet supports rumen health. Fiber in the rumen, especially fiber from forage sources that have not been finely chopped or ground, maintains rumen distention, which stimulates motility, cud chewing, and salivary flow. These actions affect the rumen environment favorably by stimulating the endogenous production of salivary buffers and a high rate of fluid movement through the rumen. Salivary buffers maintain rumen pH in a desirable range, while high fluid flow rates increase the efficiency of microbial energy and protein yield. Fiber, however, delivers less dietary energy than NFC. Fiber is generally less fermentable in the rumen than NFC, and rumen fermentation is the major mechanism by which energy is provided, both for the animal and the rumen microbes. Therefore, diets with high NDF concentrations promote rumen health but provide relatively less energy than diets high in NFC.

To increase the energy supply, dietary NDF concentrations are usually reduced by adding starch and other sources of NFC. This increases the rate and extent of rumen fermentation, which leads to greater energy availability. Increased ruminal fermentation also leads to the increased production of volatile fatty acids, which tends to lower rumen pH. At rumen pH values <6.2, fiber digestion is reduced; at values ≤5.5, fiber digestion is severely diminished, feed intake may be reduced, and rumen health is generally compromised. There is a reciprocal relationship between NFC and NDF proportions, so the adverse effects of high dietary NFC may be especially evident as cud chewing and salivary flow may be simultaneously diminished because of reductions in dietary NDF.

Recommended minimum NDF concentrations depend on the source and physical effectiveness of the NDF and the dietary concentration of NFC. Fiber from forage sources is, in general, more effective at stimulating salivation and cud chewing than is fiber from non forage sources. Thus, one variable in the assessment of dietary NDF adequacy is the proportion of NDF coming from forages. Minimum NDF concentrations in the diets for high-producing cows are 25%–30%. When fiber sources from forage make up ≥75% of the NDF, then total NDF concentrations in the lower end of this range may be acceptable. When a smaller portion of total NDF is derived from forage sources, then total NDF concentrations should be in the upper end of this range. Maximum recommended NFC concentrations are 38%–44%. Diets with higher NFC concentrations will benefit from higher proportions of NDF coming from forage sources. These recommendations must be viewed as broad guidelines rather than strict rules. Factors including the total ferment ability of the diet as well as the fermentability of the NDF influence the NDF requirement. Diets with highly fermentable NDF sources require higher total concentrations of NDF but provide more energy per mass unit of NDF than diets with less fermentable NDF. Feeding management schemes such as totally mixed rations result in lower minimum NDF concentrations than feeding dietary components individually

Dietary energy is usually measured in megacalories (Mcal) or megajoules (MJ). When the energy in a given feedstuff is expressed in terms of the Mcal or MJ actually available for metabolism, heat production, or storage in the animal, the term metabolizable energy (ME) is used. The efficiency of utilization of ME varies based on the physiologic functions supported, which include body maintenance, growth, and lactation. The net energy (NE) system takes into account the differences in efficiency of ME utilization for each of these processes and assigns a separate NE value to individual feedstuffs based on each of these energy-requiring processes, ie, body maintenance, growth, and lactation. Thus, in the USA, in which the NE system is typically used, energy values of feedstuffs for ruminants are expressed as NE for maintenance (NEM), NE for gain (NEG), and NE for lactation (NEL). This system is cumbersome and nonintuitive and has many computational disadvantages compared with alternative systems based directly on ME. However, the NE system has the major advantage of more equitably comparing the energy values of forages to concentrates when used in ruminant diets.

It has typical values for ME, NEL, NEM, and NEG, for some feedstuffs commonly fed to dairy cows. The values in these and other published tables are estimates of the energy delivered to lactating cows consuming feed at three times the maintenance consumption rate, ie, three times more feed than they would consume were they not in production. The listed values are typical averages for the feeds; the actual values for individual feeds may vary considerably, especially for forages. Laboratory analyses of feeds and forages are always advisable for both comparative evaluation and ration balancing. Values for ME and NE cannot be measured directly by typical laboratory analyses. These and any other energy values on a laboratory report are estimates, usually based on formulas with acid detergent fiber concentration as the primary independent variable. Many contemporary computer programs for ration evaluation or balancing in dairy cows do not rely on laboratory estimates of feed energy concentrations. Rather, they estimate the contributions of individual feeds to the energy supply based on feed characteristics, intake rates, and estimated rates of passage through the rumen. Such programs are frequently referred to as "models." When using programs of this type, the estimated energy values of individual feeds will diminish with increasing rates of feed intake.

Supplemental fats can be added to increase energy concentration. Fat concentrations in typical dairy diets without supplemental fat are usually low, ~2.5% of dry matter. Supplemental fats may be added to attain a total ration fat concentration of ~6% of dry matter. Fats in ruminant diets can induce undesirable metabolic effects, both within the rumen microbial population and within the animal. Ramifications of these effects include reduced fiber digestion, indigestion and poor rumen health, and suppression of milk fat concentration. The major benefit of supplemental fat in ruminant diets is that dietary energy concentration can be increased without increasing the NFC concentration.

Fats may be supplemented from vegetable sources such as oil seeds, animal sources such as tallow, and specialty fat sources that are manufactured to be rumen inert, ie, not interact with the metabolism of rumen microbes. Supplemental fats from vegetable sources generally have a relatively high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fats adversely affect rumen microbial activity. In addition, these fatty acids are extensively converted to saturated fatty acids in the rumen. When fed in excessive dietary concentration, intermediate products from the saturation process may escape the rumen and be absorbed by intestinal digestion. Some of these products are trans-fatty acids, some of which directly suppress mammary butterfat synthesis. Supplemental fats from animal sources are more saturated and thus less detrimental to microbial activity and less apt to result in suppression of butterfat synthesis. Rumen-inert fats are designed to have little or no effect on rumen microbial activity and mammary butterfat synthesis. In general, when supplementing fats to dairy diets, up to 400 g (~2% of diet dry matter) may be added as vegetable fats, particularly if the fats are added as oil seeds, which tend to be less detrimental than free oils. An additional 200–400 g may be added from highly saturated or preferably rumen-inert sources, generally not to exceed a total of 6.5% fat in the total dietary dry matter.

The protein requirements of lactating dairy cows are high because of the demand for amino acids for milk protein synthesis. Two systems of describing the dietary protein supply and requirements for dairy cows are in general use: the crude protein system and the metabolizable protein system. The crude protein system considers only the total amount of dietary protein, or protein equivalent from nonprotein nitrogen sources. Crude protein values are based on the measurement of total dietary nitrogen and the assumption that protein is 16% nitrogen. The crude protein system is relatively simple to use and has provided a traditional means of formulating dairy cow rations provides general guidelines for the required crude protein concentration of diets for large- and small-breed dairy cattle at various levels of production. It can be used for general evaluations of the protein adequacy of dairy diets. The metabolizable protein (MP) system is more complex than the crude protein system, and it was developed in recognition of the fact that not all crude protein provided to cows may be available for absorption as amino acids.

The availability of high-quality water for ad lib consumption is critical. Insufficient water intake leads immediately to reduced feed intake and milk production. Water requirements of dairy cows are related to milk production, DMI, ration dry matter concentration, salt or sodium intake, and ambient temperature. Various formulas have been devised to predict water requirements. Two formulas to estimate water consumption of lactating dairy cows are as follows:

Note: FWI is free water intake (water consumed by drinking rather than in feed), DMI is in kg/day, milk is in kg/day, Na is in g/day, and temperature is in °C. Water consumed as part of the diet contributes to the total water requirements; thus, diets with higher moisture concentrations result in lower FWI.

Providing adequate access to water is critical to encourage maximal water intake. Water should be placed near feed sources and in milking parlor return alleys, because most water is consumed in association with feeding or after milking. For water troughs, a minimum of 5 cm of length per cow at a height of 90 cm is recommended. One water cup per 10 cows is recommended when cows are housed in groups and given water via drinking cups or fountains. Individual cow water intake rates are 4–15 L/min. Many cows may drink simultaneously, especially right after milking, so trough volumes and drinking cup flow rates should be great enough that water availability is not limited during times of peak demand. Water troughs and drinking cups should be cleaned frequently and positioned to avoid fecal contamination.

Poor water quality may result in reduced water consumption, with resultant decreases in feed consumption and milk production. Several factors determine water quality. Total dissolved solids (TDSs), also referred to as total soluble salts, is a major factor that refers to the total amount of inorganic solute in the water

Basic learning before starting the business

  • Mark each individual animal.
  • Control the spread of disease.
  • Give the animals proper nutrition.
  • Milk the animals frequently.
  • Understand the breeding cycle.
  • Plan for changes in your herd.

Assuming that you have more than a few animals, you'll need to mark them to tell them apart. This will help you track individual milk production and illness. Tagging is a common method.

Always buy disease-free animals, and keep them isolated from other animals during transportation to your farm. Quarantining new arrivals (and animals that fall sick) is recommended, especially if they do not have trustworthy, recent health records. Your local government or veterinarian can give you specific advice about diseases in your area.

  • Equipment shared between farms can spread disease. Try to confirm where the equipment has been used and whether the animals there were healthy.
  • Disease-carrying ticks are a major problem for livestock. Inspect animals for ticks regularly, and keep the shed area clear of brush.

Feeding cattle and other livestock can be a complicated business. There are many different kinds of fodder and forage plants, which provide different amounts of energy, protein, roughage, and various nutrients. A veterinarian or experienced farmer can help you work with the food you have available.

Milk yield of a dairy animal depends on four main factors: (a) genetic ability; (b) feeding program; (c) herd management; and (d) health. As cows continue to improve genetically, we must also improve nutrition and management to allow the cow to produce to her inherited potential. A good dairy feeding program must consider the quantity fed, the suitability of the feed and how and when the feeds are offered.

Milk-producing animals typically need milking two or three times a day. Move the animal to a clean location. Wash and dry your hands and the udder before milking.If you've never milked an animal before, learn how tomilk a cow or  If your herd size is larger, then use the milking machine (parlour system).

You will need to breed your female animals regularly to keep them lactating as often as possible. The cycle of breeding, calving, and weaning calves has implications for the animal's nutrition needs, health, and of course milk production. Our guide on cows gives you the basics, but this will vary based on species and age. Unlike farms that raise livestock for meat, you will be calving all year round to keep milk production steady. Keeping track of where each animal is in the cycle is vital so you can stick to a plan that keeps your income as regular as possible.

Whether to sell, slaughter, or keep an animal is one of the toughest questions for a dairy farmer. Culling allows you to replace a low-yield animal with a higher-quality replacement, and to increase the genetic quality of your herd. Both of these factors are important, but performing them without a plan can add massive costs for replacement animals. Take this into account in your business plan, and include the cost/profit of producing each male and female calf as well.

It's no exaggeration to say that our solutions increase your profits.