The dairy farming business is being seen as a lucrative venture by both, young and middle-aged entrepreneurs in modern India. After all, large-scale milk production plays an important role in building the nation’s economy. Furthermore, hardly any region in India is unsuitable for dairy farming. Above all, modern methods of farming, as well as innovative methods of dairy farming, suffice to make this a profitable business.
Why is dairy farming viewed as a profitable business?
At the outset, it is one of those rare businesses, which is active all round the year. Think about it. What are the most popular dairy products in India? They include natural and processed cheese products, butter and butter blends, ice creams, frozen desserts, iced milk, sherbets, sorbets, flavoured milk products, sour cream, milk protein concentrate, whey protein concentrate and so many other novelties. Naturally, tonnes of milk are required throughout the year, to create these products and sell them across the country.
How much investment is required for dairy farming business?
You do not require a lot of money to start up a dairy farm. You can always start small. In addition, you do not need much in the way of raw materials or stock. Therefore, inventory is always less. In case of any natural disaster or sudden misfortune, you may even shift your business to a new location very easily. Furthermore, it is possible to have your animals insured.
The business does not require skilled labour. In fact, you will be able to provide employment to less educated people and contribute towards improving the unemployment situation in the country. Even if you are unemployed yourself, you may become a successful entrepreneur if you plan and implement in the proper manner. Local NGOs and banks are always ready to help with the finances.
Dairy farming is an eco-friendly business. You will not be polluting the environment at all. In actuality, animals of Indian and foreign breeds will help to conserve the soil and nature, thanks to their grazing habits and contribution towards organic manure (cow dung).
You will be able to meet all your energy needs, if you go in for a biogas plant that uses cow dung as fuel. The decomposed slurry may be utilised as organic manure.
Clarity in Objectives
Like every other business, dairy farming has its constraints or disadvantages too. For instance, your initial infrastructure has to be splendid, since you desire to become a successful business owner. Admittedly, you expect a high yield as far as milk production is concerned. Well, then, your animals must be healthy and fed good quality feed (even if it is rather expensive). At every stage of production, you must ensure that quality is maintained. Furthermore, you must never forget that you are dealing with a biological phenomenon and good breeding will ultimately become responsible for good production of milk. You will have to keep a lookout for everything of value. The green food that grows alongside your crop is valuable too. See how it can be used to your monetary advantage. If you are reliable, hardworking and alert, you should be able to witness your dairy farming business move from strength to strength. Above all, you will have to be realistic. True, since this is a family business, you will prefer to confine employment of domestic workers only. However, there may be a need for skilled labour from outside too. Do not stop yourself from hiring them.
If you have comprehended all the things mentioned above and have the courage to take the next step forward, then work out the budget and infrastructure (housing for animals, feeding, number of animals to be maintained, medical check up, etc). Have an experienced breeder look at your plan and make relevant suggestions. You are a novice; do not think that you can handle everything by yourself. Finally, your objectives should be evaluated at the end of each year and modified in alignment with the direction in which your dairy farming business is going.
It would be good not to jump headlong into the business without thinking, especially if you lack healthy experience. Why don’t you offer yourself as a labourer at one of the existing dairy farms for a period of six months or one year? You will be able to observe all the aspects of the business, learn how to identify and resolve problems, understand the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining various types of cattle, etc. This should help you grow immensely in confidence.
Then again, you are welcome to visit other farms nearby and witness the events taking place there. Do go in for logical analysis of every event. Make your conclusions and if necessary, engage in conversations with local veterinarians for obtaining valuable information. If the farms were commercial in nature, you would do well to request advice from the owners regarding the functioning of dairy farming systems. Although they might not give away their specific trade secrets, they will not hesitate to share general knowledge about dairy farming, cattle and dairy products.
Keep yourself updated about everything by reading as many books and magazines as you can about the dairy farming business. Browse the Internet for blogging websites and forums. You never know whom you may come across or what you might discover through such healthy habits. Develop an interest in the fodder market. It is important to have knowledge about diverse types of feed, availability during various seasons, quality, etc.
Now, it is not compulsory, but it will not hurt to obtain some professional training. Different Indian states have universities for agriculturists or veterinarians. Then again, every state has a department related to animal husbandry. Krishi Vigyan Kendras are useful too. Finally, there are organisations at the national level, such as National Dairy Research Institute or NDRI, Karnal, Haryana. Make some enquiries and decide what suits your needs best. In case, you do not wish to associate with governmental agencies, you may opt for non-governmental establishments active in the farming sector, especially dairy farming.
Do make time for visits to the cattle fair or cattle market. Observe the exchange of animals taking place there. You will also be able to keep track of supply and demand, as well as pricing for various breeds. Get into conversations with experienced breeders about purchasing of animals.
Due to your own experiences as a labourer, you will be able to comprehend the importance of employing diligent and dependable people to work as a team. Each individual may be trained to undertake certain tasks. It is imperative for each member to possess a practical mindset.
There is no dearth of cattle in our country. Apart from the native breeds, even foreign cows and buffaloes are available. After all, there is no law that states that you cannot rear both species at the same time, in the same dairy farm. Just make sure that they are placed in separate rows in your sheds.
In case, you desire to own a herd of cows, go in for Tharparkar, Gir, Sahiwal and Red Sindhi, preferably. These milch cows are indigenous to India and capable of surviving all kinds of weather conditions. They should be able to provide sufficient milk every day. Many people, especially women, prefer cow’s milk, since it contains a lower amount of fat than buffalo milk does. The fat content is anywhere between 3.5% and 5.5%. If the breed is of a high quality, you may have to pay anywhere between INR 12,000 and INR 15,000 for it, or even more. Your herd is bound to grow, since a well cared for cow gives birth to a lone calf once in 13 to 14 months. Cows are docile and capable of being handled easily. The crossbreeds, especially Jersey and Holstein, are comfortable even in extreme climates, such as those found in Jammu & Kashmir.
As for buffaloes, you would do well to go in for milch breeds like Badhawari, Murrah, Mehasani, Surti, Nali – Ravi and Jaffrabadi. These animals tend to mature late, giving birth to calves once in 16 to 18 months. However, if the calves are male, they are viewed as having little or no value in the marketplace. Compared to cow’s milk, buffalo milk contains a larger amount of fat. Therefore, it proves useful for making butter, ghee and hot beverages (tea and coffee). These animals are easier to maintain, for they like to feed on fibrous crop residues. You will have to spend less on feed. However, their thick skins make these animals long for cool waters. Therefore, they need to have showers, wallowing tanks or foggers with fan nearby.
Foreign breeds of cattle include Jersey, Holstein Friesian, Brown Swiss, and so on. Regardless of whatever breeds appeal to you, do keep in touch with changing market trends and adverse weather conditions.
Like every other domestic animal, cows and buffaloes need to be fed nutritious food. Do not be stingy with the amounts in your eagerness to save on monetary costs for feed. Do remember that your animals must be healthy, in order to yield high quality and large amounts of milk. Whenever possible, combine regular food with green food, especially if you wish to reduce expenses on feed and obtain uncontaminated milk. For instance, you may own around 20 cows, buffaloes, or a mix of both breeds. Do ensure that you receive 400 kg of oats/maize fodder and 300 kg of Lucerne/Berseem every day, from a reputed dealer. You will have to enter into a contract with this dealer. Later on, you may create a small grazing patch for your animals.
Unlike other animals, dairy herds require large amounts of fresh and clean water. Every cow and every buffalo will have to consume at least five litres of water, in order to produce a litre of milk.
You must own at least 20 cows and buffaloes initially, if you wish your dairy farm business to take off well. Over time, the respective herds can go up to 50:50, 70:30, 60:40, etc, depending upon your preference for more cows, more buffaloes or half-and-half. Towards this end, therefore, you will require at least 3,000 sq ft of land. As your business progresses and you acquire more animals, you may have to go in for 15 to 20 acres of land possessing irrigation facilities. After all, you will need to cultivate fodder land for them. You cannot afford to buy feed from external sources all the time. As per the thumb rule, five animals should be allotted an acre of green fodder land. You may calculate the area required to feed your entire brood. Do note that economic feeding is the key to success as far as dairy farming is concerned.
As far as personal space is concerned, each animal should be provided with an area measuring 40 sq ft internally (inside the shed) and 80 sq ft externally (outside the shed). There should be sufficient ventilation, which is inward flow of clean and fresh air and outward flow of breathed out air.
Apart from housing for your animals, you will also need separate rooms for other things. They are to be used for storing implements, storing milk, maintaining an office, etc. Ensure that your land has a bore well, which can fill up a large-sized water tank within an hour. In fact, the water tank should be able to store at least 2,000 litres of water.
You cannot take care of everything by yourself. Therefore, employ sufficient workers to help you. One individual can take care of 10 milch animals, 20 young stock or 20 dry animals.
Ensure that your animals are vaccinated regularly. Otherwise, they become vulnerable to diseases that can destroy your entire livestock. Request the local veterinarian to make timely visits. Keep a stock of essential medicines, medical equipment, etc, handy always. Thus, if you inspire yourself to look after your animals well, work hard and engage in healthy marketing, your dairy farming business is bound to be a tremendous success.