Management and Feeding Practices for Milking Cows and Buffaloes

The freshly calved cows should be shifted to the milking herd after 4-5 days of colostrum period. The management and feeding during the lactation is of paramount importance as the level of production and profitability from dairy farming depends largely on the amount of care and judicious feeding provided during this period.

a) Housing: The milking cows should preferably be housed in loose houses having a covered area of 3.5-4.0 sq. m. and an open area of 7-8 sq. m. per cow. The floors of these loose houses should be non-slippery and a good dry bedding material should be provided especially in rainy and winter seasons. All the milking cows should be divided into 2-3 groups depending on their level of production as high, medium and low producers. When housed in groups, the number of cows in each paddock should not be more than 50. Frequent shifting of the animals between different groups should be avoided.

The loose housed milking cows and buffaloes need to be protected against thesummer heat stress especially in Northern Indian conditions by suitable means. Water splashing / sprinkling on the animals body for 5-10 minutes twice or thrice daily during the hotter parts of the day, provision of ceiling fans in cow sheds or installation of mist cooling devices specially for crossbred cows and wallowing of buffaloes twice daily for a period of about 1 hour are some of such means. During winter the cows need to be protected against direct cold drafts especially during nights.

b) Feeding: The feed and fodder requirements of dairy cows and buffaloes are calculated based on their dry matter (DM) content. The dry matter requirement of milking dairy animals varies between 2.5 to 3.5 per cent of their body weights depending on the level of milk production. Two-thirds of the total requirement of DM of the milking animal should be met through a mixture of cereal and leguminous green fodders and dry roughages. The remaining one-third of DM should be fed through concentrate mixture. As a thumb rule the producing cows should be fed concentrate mixture at the rate of 1 kg for every 2.5 kg of milk produced and buffaloes at the rate of 1 kg for every 2 kg of milk produced over and above the maintenance requirement of the animal.

c) Milking: The milking of the dairy animals should be done at the same time daily as per the routine. The buffaloes and low producing cows are milked twice daily and high producing crossbred cows thrice daily maintaining a constant interval between each milking. For better milk production, the milking should be done gently, quietly, quickly and completely. For clean milk production, the milking should be done at a clean place or in a separate milking parlour. Before milking, the cow or buffalo should be washed with water and the udder and teats should be wiped dry with a clean cloth. The milker should also wash his hands and milk the cow after proper let down of milk in clean dry narrow mouthed milking bucket. Milking should be completed within 5.7 minutes.

All milking animals should be observed for signs of heat from 45 days after calving and should be bred by 60 days of calving. Cows not coming into heat after 60 days of calving should be examined for any reproductive problems.

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