Lesson 6. GENERAL DAIRY FARM PRACTICES (PART-2)
The general management practices that help the animals to be active, healthy, cleanliness and comfortable are:
Minimum exercise is necessary for all animals. It keeps the animals thrifty and active. It helps in normal metabolic process and maintenance of good health. Exercising is to make muscles active and the animal physically fit. Outdoor exercise by exposure to sunlight helps in supply of vitamin D. Breeding bulls are to be provided loafing area of about 120 square meters for each bull to keep them in good condition. In large livestock farms and semen banks, a bull exerciser is used to exercise a number of bulls simultaneously avoiding obesity in animals.
Grooming comprises of brushing the hair coat of animals. It is essential for all the show animals. It is done for cleanliness, improve appearance, massage and stimulate cutaneous and lymph blood circulation, removal of waste products like skin secretions, loose hair, skin parasites from hair. It helps in keeping the skin pliable and brings out natural oil in the hair. Cows are regularly groomed before milking to avoid falling of dust in milk. Before milking, brushing of rump, sides of thigh and buttocks should be done.
Dandy brush made of stiff fibres, whisks of paddy straw or any brush with stiff bristles can be used for grooming the animal. Start grooming at the neck behind the ears and is carried out in same direction as the flow of hair. At times, brushing has to be carried out against flow of hair to remove dirt sticking to hair. Work bullocks are also groomed to keep them active and to make them recover from tiredness and fatigue quickly.
During winter suitable bedding should be provided to young calves to provide warmth. In tropical countries like India, provision of bedding is not important as in western countries. Bedding is used primarily for keeping animals clean and comfortable. Bedding soils up the urine and makes manure handling easier.
Dehorning / Disbudding
Dehorning is removal of horns of animals. Disbudding means arresting the growth of horn buds at an early age. Horns serve no useful purpose on dairy cattle. They can cause many body and udder injuries on other animals. Horned cattle require more space. Dehorn calves as early as possible, when horn buds are very small, causing little discomfort to animal. Dehorn the calf when it is four to 10 days old or as soon as horn buds can be easily detected. Dehorning is done mostly in spring or post monsoon season to avoid flies.
There are several ways of dehorning by using chemicals, saws, clippers, hot iron,
Chemicals like caustic soda (NaoH) or caustic potash (KoH) are commonly used chemicals available in form of sticks, paste. Clip the hair around the horn bud of calves and surround the area with grease or Vaseline to protect the eyes from chemicals. Rub the chemical over the horn bud until blood appears resulting in arrest of growth of horn buds.
Hot iron method
A specially designed hot iron rod is applied on horn buds of young calves. The dehorning irons are heated in portable forge. The hot iron method is bloodless and used in any season of year for young calves only. Electric dehorner is also available which has even temperature of iron rod.
Dehorning saw or clippers: Clippers are useful for removing horns of young cattle whereas, dehorning saw is used to remove brittle horns of adult cattle.
Elastrator: It is an instrument of specially made rubber ring for dehorning cattle with horns of 5 to 10 cm long. Smaller horns drop off in 3 to 6 weeks, where as longer horns may take 2 months to drop off.
Castration: It is the removal of testicles which produce male germ cells. Male cattle & buffaloes used for work are castrated so that they are docile and amenable. Male calves are castrated at one year of age. Castration should be performed during cold season, strictly avoiding rainy season for fear of fly menace. Under Indian conditions the best method for castrating cattle and buffaloes is with pair of Burdizzo castrator.
Burdizzo method of castration is bloodless in which the testicles are made functionless by destroying nourishment to them. When using Burdizzo castrator, see that the spermatic cord does not slip out and one cord is clamped at a time for few seconds. Complete atrophy of testicle occurs. A simple castration knife can also be used for the purpose. The knife as well as the operators hand should be clean and disinfected. Grasp the tip of scrotum and hold it tight while cutting off the lower end. Draw out the exposed testicles together with the surrounding membranes with hands and tear off.
Weighing of animals: Weighing of animals is an important operation in a dairy farm to know the growth rate of calves, to calculate the amount of feed and fodder to be offered to animals and for calculation of drug dosage of animals. Weighing of the animals can be done by two ways,
1. Direct Method
2. Indirect Method
1.Direct Method: The animals are passed through the weighing yard and weighing is carried out on the platform balances. Allow the animal to stand for a while on the platform before recording the weight.
Weighments of the animals are to be done in the morning before feeding and watering to get the accurate weights. This method is followed mostly in organized farms.
1. Shaeffers formula: It is commonly used for cattle and buffaloes.
Live weight in lbs = Length × (Girth)2 / 300
2. Aggarwal’s modified Shaeffers formula
Live weight in seers = (Girth × length) / Y
Where 1 seer is equal to 0.93kg
Where Y is equal 9.0 if girth is less than 65”
Y is equal to 8.5 if girth is between 65-80”
Y is equal to 8.0 if girth is over 80”.
3. Mullick’s formula buffaloes
X = 25.156(Y) – 960.232
X = estimate of body weight in lbs
Y = Heart girth in inches.
Farm Record Maintenance
Record keeping is key operation to know the progress of dairy farm. It is maintained for the following purposes.
Some of the registers which are essential in the dairy farm are livestock register, calving register, lactation record, mortality register, morbidity register, feed register, breeding register, day book, vaccination register etc.