Dr. Surya Kant*1, Dr. Akash Wadal1, Dr. K. D. Singh2, Dr. A. K. Verma2, Dr. M. K. Verma3 and Dr. Sonu Jaiswal4
Small-scale dairy farmers in developing nations face several difficulties today, including high production costs, unstable markets, and low margins of profit. Farmers are also unable to choose the price for their agricultural products. Politicians and decision-makers in various regions of the country are in charge of the dairy cooperatives and are in charge of regulating the milk price. Therefore, rather of raising the price of their produce, farmers must employ scientific, cost-effective strategies to minimize production costs in order to make the dairy industry profitable. According to Dixit (2002), the average cost of producing milk in India is Rs. 30/litre. In addition to providing farmers Rs. 2.5 as an incentive for each liter of milk they produce, the state of Karnataka pays Rs. 32.5 per liter to the dairy cooperative that is effectively operating there, the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF). In comparison, the gross value of milk sales in Karnataka is the lowest in the world at between 46 and 56 rupees. Farmers only make a very minimal profit margin.
The cost of buying animal stock, housing, maintenance, disease control, and feeding management are the main causes of the cost of milk production. Since feed prices alone represent 65-75% of regular costs on a dairy farm, improving cow productivity and efficiency through better nutrition can help the business become more profitable. Therefore, adjustments in feeding management and nutrition have the most potential in the shortest amount of time out of all the achievable ways in a dairy farming system to generate increased profits to the farmer. Therefore, the current discussion will provide a full overview of advanced, low-cost feeding technology that dairy producers might use for successful dairying.
The expense for producing milk:
Variation due to season, or variation in pricing of input like green feed, dry feed, and concentrate throughout the year, is one of the key factors that affects cost of production. Along with variations in agroclimatic conditions, the cost is also affected by the size of the enterprise, the breed of the animals, and the breeding, feeding, and management techniques employed.
According to research on the price of milk production reported by Dixit (2023), the price of milk production for native cattle varied from Rs. 28 to Rs. 32 per liter; for buffalo, it was Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 per liter; and for crossbred cattle, it was Rs. 18 to Rs. 20 per liter. Following manpower (20–25%) in terms of inputs, feed and fodder account for the majority of the total price of milk production (65–70%). Since the price of feed make up a significant portion of the gross production expenses, attempts to decrease the cost of milk production must concentrate on maximizing the efficiency of feed resources.
Advanced feeding strategies with affordable prices include:
- Unconventional or recent feed resources:
Numerous more recent feed sources are proven to be beneficial for feeding livestock. A reasonable alternative to fill the shortage as well as reduce production expenses is to replace some of the conventional feed sources. The regional suitability and availability of unconventional feed supplies are important determinants. Methods of processing and detoxification that are appropriate must be used. and utilized in animals at a safe inclusion level. Residues from agricultural crops are a novel source of feed that may be applied to feed livestock. India is the globe’s second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables. During harvest, marketing, and processing, 33% of these are destroyed. The majority of these diets are affordable, healthy, and contain fewer ANFs. The primary challenge with employing these feed products is their high moisture content. However, they can be effectively used after being processed properly.
- Techniques for adding minerals in feed:
Every breed of animals need minerals for optimal well-being, growth, and milk production. The concentration of minerals in green fodder supplies is low and frequently requires supplementing, particularly for animals that produce an excessive amount of milk. Lack of minerals are especially difficult to identify because symptoms frequently appear after an extended period of underfeeding. Mineral deficiencies may interfere with growth and production in a subclinical behavior without revealing any symptoms. In spite of the fact that major nutrients must be provided in greater amount, minerals are also more economical than major nutrients. Therefore, for livestock that produce an abundance of milk, the right quantity of mineral supplementation is essential.
Mineral supplements involve:
a) Lick or the mineral block
b) The most popular method is mixing powder with concentrate feed
c) Supplemental liquids.
When contrasted with inorganic sources, chelated mineral sources are superior. In comparison to inorganic sources, they can be supplemented 50% less and have greater bioavailability and better absorption. Five to ten percent more minerals will have no effect, but giving too much can be hazardous and provide no further advantages. Some minerals should not be ingested in excess because they are unsuitable with one another. In an animal’s diet, a two-to-one proportion of calcium to phosphorus is ideal. Milk fever tends to come caused by dairy cow diets with high Dietary Cation Anion Difference (DCAD) (alkaline diet). The acidic diet, or low or negative DCAD, serves to prevent against milk fever. DCAD is decreased by consuming anionic salts (minerals abundant in Cl and S compared to Na and K) or minerals with acids. For optimum performance, a mineral mixture requires to contain both main and trace minerals in the right proportions.
- TMR, or total mixed ration:
Total mixed rations are “the practice of weighing and blending all feedstuff into an all-encompassing complete ration that offers sufficient nutrition to meet the dietary requirements of the cows that produce milk for one day”. The amount of nutrients (fiber, energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins) that the animal needs is contained in every bite that it consumes. TMR features comprise : A 4-5% increase in feed intake, improved ruminal micro flora and environment, better formulation and feeding accuracy, and covering of the flavor of distasteful or nontraditional feeds (urea, limestone, fatty acids, and some bypass protein sources).It’s important to avoid overmixing and undermixing the ingredients while merging all the feeds in a TMR. The TMR will cost slightly more than conventional mash feed, even if the benefits exceed the price. It is therefore an effective method that can minimize feed loss and promote feed efficiency in cows that produce milk.
- Techniques for improving fodder employing crop residuals:
Rice/paddy straw, wheat straw, and maize stover are among the most prevalent crop residues employed in the dairy industry. When used as fodder, these materials have little nutritional value and are rich in lignified fiber, resulting in them incapable to maintain the livestock productive for an extended period of time. As a result, straws or crop residues should only be used as a substitute type of feed that has been boosted with additional vital ingredients like urea, molasses, etc.
- Storage and conservation of fodder:
As agriculture in India heavily depends on the rainy season, a successful progressive dairy farmer always thinks about the future as well. A feed and fodder crisis might occur at any time of the season. During such an outbreak of limited supply, the expense of crop residue could increase, and the dairy sector would be impacted. During the rainfall of the monsoon period, there are plenty of green fodder supplies. Green feed that is in surplus should be preserved as hay or silage. Although India’s tropical climate encourages conservation as hay, very few farmers are accepting this method of farming.
The production of silage is increasing in popularity, and more farmers who raise milk are utilizing this technology for supplying fresh feed during the year’s periods of drought. The stover and straw frequently catch fire on the farms themselves. resulting in polluted environments, especially in Punjab and Haryana. Although their poor nutritional value, such dry agricultural leftovers can be stored with convenience. Employing techniques like urea ammoniation, treatment with alkali, or introducing molasses, these crop leftovers can be enhanced. Therefore, the most economical approach for both sustainability and earnings is to offer an adequate supply of high-quality fodder throughout the entire year.
- Feeding on the basis of the animal’s postpartum period:
A dairy system for farming should maintain adequate feeding in order to avoid nutrient shortages or surplus. The dietary requirements of dairy cattle differ depending on their physiological stage and their level of production. To maximize milk production, reproduction, and dairy cow health, there are five distinctive feeding phases or stages that can be specified throughout the lactation phase of dairy cattle. Following this scientific feeding technique will result in cost-effective milk production.
- Initial lactation:
Postpartum, from 0 to 70 days (at its highest milk production). The milk supply increases over time all throughout this phase of lactation and maximum 6 to 8 weeks afterwards calving. Dry matter intake is insufficient for dairy cows to meet their dietary requirements for the production of milk. As a result, the body’s fat stores are released to be used in the production of milk. Therefore, it is important to introduce the cow to highly energetic diet, which is an essential method of management during the early lactation phase. to enhance nutritional intake throughout the early stages of lactation. Feed forage of a superior grade. Permit continuous access to fodder. Consider about introducing rumen bypass fat in the diet. For appropriate CP, RDP, and UDP, optimize the diet.
- Optimum DM utilization:
Occurs 70 to 140 days (decreasing milk production) after delivery. Animals have an instinct for ingesting more dry content during this period. Allow the animals free access to feed and fodder. Since a drop in milk production is unavoidable, it should be limited and cows shouldn’t be reducing bodyweight. Grain feeding can be enhanced for high-yielding dairy animals, but not over 2.5% of body weight. To achieve optimum rumen function and normal milk fat content, forage quality should be superb and intake of at least 1.5% of body weight is recommended. During this time, issues such as a sudden decrease in milk production, low fat and SNF challenges, silent heat, and hypoglycemia are possible. A scientific feeding strategy should work to minimize these risk factors.
- Mid and post lactation:
Postpartum 140 to 305 days (declining milk production). The cow may be pregnant throughout the period of lactation, and the feed DMI will quickly fulfill or exceed the animal’s dietary needs. In combination feed mixture feeding should try to restore any reduction in body weight during the post-calving phase and be at a level suitable for milk production. Farmers can easily maintain livestock during this phase as there are just a few potential health issues.
- Dry period:
60 days prior to to the following lactation. Most farmers might not give the animals a long adequate dry period for recovery. For the necessary amount of colostrum to be produced and to prepare the cow for the following lactation, a minimum of 60 days is necessary during the dry stage. As a result, this is an essential phase in the lactation cycle that influences the lactation period that follows. It is advisable to provide low-quality forage, such as straw or grass hay, as opposed to limiting feeding.
An adequate quantity of the three vitamins A, D, and E must be included in the diet to increase calf survival, reduce the risk of retained placenta, and improve milk fever complications. The possibility of milk fever during this particular period is suggested to be avoided by using an anionic mineral mixture. Selenium along with other trace minerals should be appropriately supplied through the diet of dry cows.
- Period of transition or close-up:
14 days prior to the delivery. For adaptation of dry cows to lactation ration without causing metabolic disorders, a transitional or close-up dry cow feeding program must be implemented. Niacin and anionic salts supplementation is additionally suggested for reducing the risk of hypoglycemia and milk fever, respectively.
- Specification for the least-cost ration:
The most affordable and balanced ration within the given boundaries must be estimated (either by a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist), or it can be calculated via software based on the chemical composition of the local feed materials and the animal’s dietary requirements. There are now frequently used smartphone applications available that farmers can use as well. As an instance, the ICAR-NIANP, Bengaluru, developed the Feed-assist software. Feeding costs can be decreased and the production of milk can be increased by employing the least expensive balanced ration that is designed according to animal demands with locally accessible feed resources.
Important factors to consider for profitable milking dairy cattle feeding are as follows:
- Scientifically balanced ration.
- The ideal roughage to concentration ratio for improved ruminal health is 60:40. If an animal generates a lot more milk and has enough fiber, the particle size may exceed 50:50. A ratio below this one could elevate the risk of ruminal acidosis and other digestive disorders.
- Allays provide high-quality feed that is free of mold and toxins to maximize the advantages of feed to the maximum.
- Animals are grouped nutritionally according to their physiological stages since the nutrients they require vary with each stage. Specifically, Calf, Heifer, Pregnant, Dry should be managed at the farm level and fed properly. Giving all the animals exactly the same quantity and quality of food could prepare animals for nutritional excess or scarcity.
- Throughout the entire day, provide access to clean water since it is both the most neglected and crucial element for animals.
- The feeding intervals: Feeding frequency should be optimized for the highest feed efficiency and the least amount of wastage. To meet their needs for dry matter, high yielding animals require more frequent feeding. Livestock require to be fed more frequently across the summer and throughout gestation, especially during the cooler times of each day. The efficiency of feed consumption enhances if the total feed to be provided in a day can be provided in more than one feeding. Therefore, high-producing livestock should be fed at least six times throughout the day with a sufficient amount of time for the animals to ruminate and rest in order to achieve maximum production.
- consumption of green fodder:
Farmers found that keeping dairy cows on green fodder is the most cost-effective method since it costs around Rs. 2.5 and Rs. 3.0 per kilogram in India. Depending on the geographic area, the availability of land, water, labor, and other resources needed for growing green feed, the cost of production may vary. An animal requires, on average, 25 kg of green fodder daily. It is highly palatable, easily absorbed, and regarded as natural feed for milking cows, which aids in maintaining favorable rumen conditions. Pasture land, forest land, public land, or farmed fodder are every possible source of green fodder. Green feed obtained from pasture or grazing area is among the least economical of these natural assets.
Traditional systems of people who raise livestock frequently use grazing-based livestock management strategies, particularly in remote regions and close-by forested areas that significantly support livelihoods and environmental services. The most significant single source of feed for ruminants in these types of environments is pasture grasses. They serve as the majority of the animals’ feed during the growing period at a price that is less than that of feeds. Farmers can grow high yielding green fodder varieties for profitable dairy production as a result of urbanization and declining grazing resources. By reducing the amount of concentrates fed to the animals, increased usage of green fodder in the animal’s diet may lower the overall price of producing milk.
The biggest challenge is ensuring a constant supply of green fodder, which can be resolved through the implementation of good animal husbandry strategies.
- Grow perennial fodder plants including cowpea, lucerne, cluster beans, and velvet beans together with fodder legumes like sorghum, hybrid napier, and sorghum.
- Whenever feeding green feed to animals, chop them.
- Preserve extra green feed as hay or silage.
- Create a plan for tree forage, such as sesbania, moringa, subabul, etc.
- Technology employed for precision feeding:
The best nutritional fulfillment is one which enables an organism to fully benefit from genetics while preventing nutrition from growing an organism any larger than the maximum size determined by inheritance. Therefore, the best advantages offered by precision feeding should be employed for the economical feeding of animals in order to prevent overfeeding. Precision feeding technology ensures the most efficient and the most secure production of animal products, the best product quality, and at the same time the lowest level of environmental pollution by reducing elimination of unutilized nutrients. Precision feeding technology meets the nutrient requirements of the animals with the greatest degree of adequacy. In order to preserve environmental and financial sustainability, precision feeding involves a continuous process of providing livestock appropriate but not excessive nutrition and obtaining the bulk of nutrients from domestic feeds through the integration of feeding and forage management. Reduced risk of over-conditioned livestock, lower feed costs, and less waste produced are a few advantages of precision feeding for the producer. When precise feeding is needed, major nutrients involve –
Given the fact that the consumption of other nutrients is impacted by the availability of energy, it is the most vital nutrient of all. Animals may get more energy from both fats and sugars. The primary source of energy in a typical dairy cow diet will be carbohydrates. Forage and concentrate feed ingredients should ideally be a source of slowly fermentable carbohydrates. Overfeeding the animal must be prevented in order to get the best outcomes for the economy. Another approach for providing animals energy is to bypass fat. In high-yielding animals during periods of transition and heat stress, bypass fat is recommended. It enhances energy density and improves dairy animals’ negative energy balance.
In contrast to natural fatty acids, which have glycerol as their structural backbone, bypass fat is made up of calcium salts of fatty acids. When calcium is blended with fatty acids, a rumen-inert fat supplement is created that has a low solubility and is hence less exposed to microbial assaulting and biohydrogenation. In contrast to the acidic environment of the abomasum, it becomes hydrolyzed and releases calcium and free fatty acids for absorption. Early lactating animals should be given bypass fat during the summer to promote milk and fat production and ensure early conception. As an a dairy cow, 100–150 g of bypass fat per day is suggested.
- Fiber aids in rumen health:
An average dairy cow should consume about 2% of its body weight in forage dry matter. Out of this, the entire ration should contain at least 28–30% neutral detergent dietary fiber. It also known by the name “effective fiber” that require at least 2 kg of fiber every day. Rumen PH, which should be over 6.0, can be used to measure it. Fiber digestion and microbial protein production might be restricted by a lower PH. maintains the amount of butterfat in the milk, which is the primary criteria used by dairy cooperatives for purchasing milk. Utilizing fiber well additionally minimizes SARA (Sub Acute Rumen Acidosis), optimizing the performance of animals.
Since protein supplements are the most expensive components, they should be used judiciously nonetheless in an amount that will allow for optimal milk production. The cows who are lactating should receive a variety of protein sources rather than just one. The objective of a protein supplementation strategy should be to improve microbial protein production.
The following sources of protein can be given to ruminant animals via supplements:
- The optimal ratio of rumen degradable to undegradable protein sources is 60:40. This is known as rumen un-degradable protein (RUP).
- Providing rumen bypass protein will boost growth rate by 25–30% and milk yield by 10% while decreasing dietary amino acid loss as ammonia and urea and preserving energy through less urea synthesis. promote reproductive effectiveness. Rumen bypass protein feeding at a rate of 100–150g per day is excellent for transitional livestock and those who have excellent milk production.
- Lysine and methionine are believed to be limiting amino acids in a typical diet that consists of corn-and-soybean meal. When cattle are fed more CP than required to meet their demands for metabolizable amino acids, it leads to an excess of N that is eliminated in the urine and may negatively impact the environment. Total dietary CP may be reduced by adding RUP or the limiting essential amino acids in rumen-protected form to meals.
- NPN-Urea: Only Urea should be used to provide the remaining third of the body’s protein needs. Urea should be released in a controlled manner for the ruminant to utilize it more efficiently. For improved microbial utilization, urea should be supplied in dairy cattle feed together with enough amounts of either starch, molasses, or cellulose and minerals like P, Co, and S.
It is possible for producing more N-efficient diets is improved by understanding or recognizing the degree of urea recycling and accounting for this as well as the microbial consumption of the recycled N. A dairy cow with a body weight between 300 and 600 kg should never have more than 80 to 160 grams of urea daily.
Overfeeding ruminant animals via protein will result in ammonia waste and increase expenses for feed since it exceeds what the ruminal bacteria can use for metabolizing it.
A balanced diet enhances nutrient utilization by stabilizing ruminal fermentation. This feeding strategy is highly appreciated since it enables increased use of agro-industrial waste products, crop remaining food, and non-conventional feeds in ruminant rations for strengthening productivity and minimizing feeding expenditures. There cannot be a single perfect advancement in technology or scientific discovery that could satisfy all of the demands of agricultural producers or minimize the overall price of production. The entire expense of technologies for both consumers and farmers must be taken into account. Innovations must be convenient to utilize, affordable, upgradable, accessible, and readily available domestically. Changes in feeding management and nutrition have the most potential in the shortest possible period of time out of all of the possibilities in a dairy system of production to promote a higher return to the producer.
*1PG Scholar, Department of Livestock Production Management
1PG Scholar, Department of Animal Nutrition
2Assistant Professor, Department of Livestock Farm Complex
3Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Genetics and Breeding
4Professor & Head, Veterinary Clinical Complex
College of Veterinary Science & Animal Husbandry, ANDUAT, Kumarganj, Ayodhya, U.P