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Farming can be really amazing because there are a lot of things associated with it that we are not totally aware of. There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to dairy farming, particularly for dairy cow farming, which if taken care of makes this farming thing really an awesome journey. However, there are a lot of concepts which you need to be familiar with and we have it all for you. This lesson highlights the importance of calf rearing.
Management before birth
Just like it is in most cases, management of calves starts before they are born. A pregnant cow is taken to the maternity meadow a few days before giving birth. A maternity spot requires being around the homestead; this makes for close surveillance. The homestead should be free from physical objects and kept well-watered. Signs of forthcoming birthing can be noticed from the swelling up of the udder which gets filled with milk, swollen vulva and a string of mucus that hangs from the vagina. If you maintain records of insemination, you can estimate the anticipated date of calving.
Management at calving
The first thing you are going to do at calf-birth is to make sure that it is breathing. If there are no signs of respiration, the calf needs immediate attention. Firstly, check for and wipe off mucus from the nostrils. If breathing does not commence, hold the baby by its hind legs upside down, and dangle it a few times. Disinfect the umbilical cord using copper sulphate solution, iodine, or such other disinfectant. Sometimes, calves are not able to suckle; in that case, they need to be helped to suckle colostrums at will, from the dam. This should be carried out for the first week. If there are extra colostrums, it should be milked and saved to feed the other calves. Later, when a week has passed, separate the calf from the dam and feed it by hand.
Feeding of the Calf
The main and first objective in bringing up a calf is to make sure it stays in proper health. The management responsible for feeding the calves should be instructed to take necessary steps to keep the nutrient supply good, thus advancing rumen development. When a calf feeding program is designed, the objective should be at lessening the mortality rate of the animals while retaining a 400-500 g/day growth rate. The rate of growth may, however, vary according to breeds. If it is a bigger breed calf, it needs to be weaned at 3 months, when it weighs an approximate of 80kg.
Calf feeding programs
A number of factors need to be considered when a feeding program is being developed: Colostrums should be given to the calves as their immunity is not developed at birth. Colostrum contains antibodies which can shield calves from diseases their mothers might be exposed to. Their ability to absorb is best within 12 hours post birth and lowest after 24 hours. This is why colostrums should be administered immediately post birth. If need be, you can use a nipple bottle. The calves rely on colostrum antibodies for about two weeks before developing own immunity. When new animals are brought into a herd before birthing, it might be required to get the vaccines to protect them from common diseases which, in turn, will help them develop antibodies. These antibodies will then be passed on to the newborn. Newborn calves rely on milk to obtain growth and nutrition, for the rumen is not ready then. A channel is formed from the suckling reflex, which comes to use as a pipe for transferring milk from the oesophagus to the abomasums. For this reason, the liquid diet should be maintained for young calves because the pipe won’t let solid feed to pass. A calf produces a large amount of lactase enzyme. This enzyme breaks lactose in milk down to galactose and glucose in order to provide energy. But enzymes which can digest carbohydrates are less and that is the reason milk needs to be given to the calves. At the formulation phase of milk replacement, milk lactose should be the source of energy. Remember, a calf does not have any sucrase enzyme, so ordinary sugar should be avoided. A calf is unable to synthesize B vitamins because the rumen does not work; so the vitamins are required to `be provided in their diet. A newborn calf’s diet needs to have milk proteins in it as enzymes capable of breaking down complex proteins develop after 7 to 10 months of birth. Slowly, calves are given solid feed. With the introduction of solid feed, development of the rumen begins. This means, when a calf is able to consume dry feed of about 1.5% of body weight, it is ready to be weaned. Remember to introduce dry feed in due time because it is required for the development of rumen. Diets that are mainly based on grain advances the rumen growth.
Silage and hay are preserved feeds that come in handy for dairy cows during periods of scarcity of green forage. The process of making silage involves fermentation under anaerobic conditions. It prevents fresh fodder from decomposing and allows it to keep its nutrient quality. It requires sufficient soluble carbohydrates (sugars) for organic acid production. Adding molasses to the fodder is recommended since it is rich in sugar, which enables the bacteria to produce the organic acids immediately. The more molasses you add, the faster the acidification and preservation process will occur.
Why feed your cows on silage?
Silage ensures high milk production and healthy dairy animals, especially during dry seasons. It is palatable, laxative, digestible, nutritious and requires less floor area for storage than hay.
Silage is produced through use of pits or trenches, towers and sacks for small quantities. However, pits are mostly used to prepare silage for large dairy units. The silage pit should be located at a place safe from rodents, away from direct sunlight and with higher elevation or slightly sloppy to avoid rain water entering into the facility. The ideal materials used in silage making should have a moisture content of 60 to 70 per cent or dry matter in the range of 30 to 35 per cent (tested by taking a small bundle of the fodder and wringing with two hands and if no moisture comes out, it is ready to ensile) and a pH below 4.2 for wet forage and below 4.8 for wilted forage. In rainy periods when the fodder is too wet, containing more than 70 per cent water, it is advisable to wilt it in the sun first.
Crops such as maize, sorghum, oats, pearl millet, and napier grass are very suitable for ensiling (preserve green fodder). They contain fermentable carbohydrates (sugar) necessary for bacteria to produce sufficient organic acid that acts as a preservative. Though leguminous fodders can also be used, they are rich in proteins and low in sugars making them a bit difficult to ensile. Harvesting maize or sorghum for making silage is ideal when their seeds are soft but not milky when squeezed open. Napier grass, on the other hand, needs to be about a metre high while legumes should have young pods, which are not dry.
Apart from molasses, other additives like common salt, formic acid, lime or urea can also be used to enable good fermentation process. To start, prepare the pit and then place a big polythene sheet on the floor and walls. Cover about a metre of walls so that the forage does not come into contact with soil. Chop the fresh forage to lengths of about one inch using either a panga or a chaff cutter. Prepare the first layer by emptying the chopped materials into the plastic lined pit to approximately 15cm high, and spread evenly.
Then dilute molasses with water at a ratio of about 1:2 and sprinkle evenly over the forage layer using a garden water sprayer. Compact the layer by trampling on it using clean boots to force out as much air as possible. This will prevent fungi growth and spoilage. Repeat this process of adding bags of chopped forage, diluted molasses while compacting to expel maximum air out of the material until the pit gets filled in a doom shape. After the final filling and compacting, wrap the polythene sheet around the silage and cover the top of the heap with a second sheet to prevent water from running into the silage. Finally cover the heap with a thick layer of soil of at least 2ft giving special attention to the edges first as you come towards the middle to keep the air out and to prevent damage of the polythene by rain, birds and rodents. With good sheeting and enough soil on it, the silage can be kept for more than one year.
Opening the silage pit
It takes about 30 to 40 days for the silage to mature and be ready for feeding. Never open the whole silage pit at once. Only one end of the narrow side should be opened a bit. Remove enough material for each day’s feeding and cover again. This way air is prevented from entering the silage. However, once the pit is opened, use the silage as quickly as possible.
Silage can be classified as good quality depending on its physical characteristics like taste, smell, and colour but more precisely by measuring the pH in the pit. A pH of 3.5 to 4.2 indicates excellent fresh acidic/sweetish silage, 4.2 to 4.5 for good acidic, 4.5 to 5.0 fair less acidic and above 5.0 for poor pungent/rancid smelling silage. Good silage should be light greenish or greenish brown or golden in colour. It should have a pleasant smell like that of vinegar, and acidic in taste, and should not contain mould. Black indicates poor silage. Overheated silage has the smell of burnt sugar and dry in texture. Badly fermented silage has offensive taste, strong smell, slimy soft texture when rubbed from the fibre or leaf.
Feeding cows with silage
A dairy cow is fed depending on the body weight or generally be given about 6kg to 15kg of silage per day. It is advisable not to feed silage immediately before or during milking especially when the quality is poor as the milk can easily take the smell of the feeds. During these times, a cow can be fed fresh grass, hay, legumes and concentrates. After feeding silage, the bunks and corners of the feeding troughs should be cleaned immediately to prevent contamination.
Before constructing the pond, land is surveyed to find out determine its topography.
Marking the area of proposed pond is the first step in the construction of a fish pond.
The natural slope where the main wall is to be built should be ascertained.
The main wall should be marked off at the lower end of the pond, where the slope is the greatest.
The first step while designing fish ponds should be to study the soil type, topography and water supply.
In designing the fish farm, it should be decided as to where and how many nursery, rearing and stocking ponds are to be constructed.
In case of a fish farm constructed solely for the purpose of seed production, only nursery and rearing ponds may be constructed, with a nominal area for the brood stock ponds.
In case of grow-out farm, more stocking ponds will be constructed to produce table size fish after stocking fingerlings.
For a composite fish farm all three types of ponds are required and their number should be based on the intended stocking density.
Fish ponds should be at least one surface acre in size. Ponds smaller than one acre seldom support a satisfactory fish population over many years. They usually require much more intensive fish management and may not justify the costs.
It is important to know the exact size, maximum depth, average depth, and water volume of the pond. This information becomes useful in calculating the amount of herbicide needed for weed control and the number of fish fingerlings needed for stocking.
Different kinds of pond
Freshwater fish ponds differ according to their source of water, the way in which water can be drained from the pond, the material and method used for construction and the method of use for fish farming. Their characteristics are usually defined by the features of the landscape in which they are built.
Goats are grown by feeding kitchen leftovers and herbs in the front yard. They were grown for getting household consumption of milk and also for making ayurvedic medicine from goat milk. The popularity and rising demand for mutton has led to the commercial farming of goats, especially for meat. North Indian breeds are much sought after for this purpose. Goat farming is the most profitable also it attracts many farmers to this ventures.
There are several types of goat varieties. Some are good for milk while other for meat and also there are breeds exclusively for the hide.
Jamnapari is the most popular breed for commercial goat farming in India. It is mostly found in Uttar Pradesh. Jamnapari goats are beautiful and have healthy genes. This goat is reared mainly for milk. Mostly they are white or yellow mixed white colour with grey patches. They have a curved nostril bone and have long flat dropping ears. The striking feature is that they lactate for more than 300 days per year and milk yield per day is around 3 liter. This breed usually gives birth to one lamb a year. Male goats gain up to 100 Kg weight and female to 80kg. Jamnapari is raised for meat also and is known for its taste.
2. Boer Goat
This breed was developed in South Africa and it is the most popular breed in the world for meat. Due to selective breeding, they have excellent growth. They have good resistance to heat and disease. They are fast growing and have a high fertility rate. They weigh up to 45kg.
Barbari is a dual purpose breed, reared for dairy and meat purpose. This is a small breed and mainly found in India and Pakistan. Barbari is one among 20 classified breeds in India.
This breed if from Punjab region of India and also found in Pakistan, it is used for milk and meat production. It is also known as Lahori Goat. It has a large body size and long ears. These goats are preferred for intensive goat farming.
This breed is mainly found in Maharashtra and also found in Western Maharashtra and adjoining parts of Andhra Pradesh. The name of this breed is derived from its place of origin. Though it is reared for both milk and meat, it is popular for meat. Most of the bucks are horned and does may not have horns.
Malabari goats inhabit the Calicut, Kannur, Malappuram, Wayanad districts of Kerala. This goat breed is from Kerala. Malabari goats are a mix of various breeds. Malabari goats show early maturity and conceive in 8 to 10 months.
This goat breed is found mainly in Rajasthan. This is good for both milk and meat. Jakhrana goat hides are popular in the tanning industry also.
They are highly resistant to heat and are mainly found in parts of Rajasthan. Sirohi is raised in Uttar Pradesh for meat production. Usually, doe gives birth twice a year, usually 40%singles and 60% twins.
Surti Goat is one of the best breed in India for dairy. This breed is very small and is native of Surat in Gujarat. They are most economical to the rear. Surti female goats are bigger than male goats. These goats are usually white in colour. They are easily manageable and graze in the open area.
Although goat milk is not very popular in the Western countries but it is widely consumed in several other parts of the world. Goat milk is very rich in calcium, protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A, B2, C, D. And all these nutrients provide great benefits to health. Goat milk is also known as a perfect substitute of cow milk.