Precision dairy farming: a new technological marvel in the dairy

posted on April 23, 2022 | Author DR. FAAZIL BASHIR RATHER

Worldwide, about 150 million households are engaged in dairy farming with a production of about 860 million tons of milk. India is the highest milk producing country in the world with production of around 187.75 million tons of milk which accounts for more than 21% of the global milk production. Milk production in the Kashmir Valley has increased by more than 250% over the past two decades. There are more than 4.70 lake households and family businesses owning dairy cattle in rural and urban areas, with an annual milk production of 1.30 million tons, with a per capita availability of more than 490 g per day (the national per capita availability is 394 g per day). Dairy farming is one of the most important means of ensuring the livelihoods and nutritional security of the masses.

The demand for milk and dairy products is increasing, but at the same time the number of dairy farmers is decreasing. As a result, the size of dairy farms and the number of dairy animals on them will continue to increase and there is less time available to care for individual animals, making it more difficult to properly monitor and manage. animals. Dairy farming is a day-to-day decision-intensive business, which must rely on a holistic approach to maintain a profitable system that is accountable to consumers for welfare, environmental impacts and product quality. With the implementation of prestigious flagship programs in the UT sector, namely, Integrated Dairy Development Scheme (IDDS), Dairy Development Scheme (DDS), Feed & Fodder Development Scheme (F&FDS), etc., dairy production with crossbred cattle high yield receives special attention. which has created employment opportunities, led to the development of entrepreneurship and thus generated vast opportunities for the development of dairy farming on commercial lines as a commercial enterprise.

Today, dairy farming has evolved from a traditional family lifestyle into an organized dairy industry with technological innovations in feed, housing, animal husbandry and health care management. Precision dairy farming technologies that address all these aspects therefore hold great promise for the future development of dairy farming in India as well as the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. These demographic shifts reflect an ongoing shift in the way dairy farms are run. “Precision dairy farming” may offer a new “technological marvel” in the dairy industry in the coming scenario. Precision farming refers to the use of technologies that make farmers less dependent on human labor, support them in their (day-to-day) management and help them improve the profitability of their farm.

The main objectives of precision dairy farming are the maximization of individual animal potential, the early detection of diseases and the minimization of the use of drugs through preventive health measures. Many precision dairy farming technologies that are already being used by progressive dairy farmers include:

Measurement of walking activity the use of an automated system called a pedometer helps to monitor both walking activity and milk production in the dairy farm. These technologies can also be used for early detection of estrus, digestive disorders, ketosis, lameness, etc. Animal behavior sensors like mercury switches were also useful for documenting head movements, walking and lying behaviors. The use of sensors is useful for measuring head angle, head acceleration, leg acceleration, steps (pedometers), swallowing, jaw movements, biting and choking sounds. chewing, weight, heart rate, core temperature (an automatic body temperature monitoring system on a dairy farm would be in the early detection of diseases, conditions or disorders that plague the dairy industry), etc. The livestock Global Positioning System (GPS) “collar” is used to record a detailed position, which helps to understand the habits and spatial distribution of animals.

Daily recording of milk production and electrical conductivity of milk can aid in the early diagnosis of an adverse health event, alert the dairy farmer at an earlier stage to adopt corrective measures in a timely manner. Use of automated sampling and in-line milk analysis, for the estimation of the fat/protein ratio, as an indicator of a negative energy balance, as well as for the measurement of the body condition score (BCS) and daily body weight using video imagery and automatic milking systems or automatic feeders, respectively, reflects the energy status of dairy animals.

Automation of feeding practices: Monitoring feeding behavior (rumen pH, rumination and rumen temperature using electronic devices, such as intra-ruminal wireless telemetry, etc.) and feed intake using an electronic monitoring system food (Feeders with measuring capability) helps in the early identification of sick cows. Use of automatic feed drop control units that have the ability to automatically drop a designated amount of feed into each individual cow’s feed trough, thereby reducing labor, cost savings, eliminating risks of human error, etc. Reach healthy among pre-weaned calves, automatic calf feeders are used.

Automatic Drawing Portals: These gates would be a great addition to almost any dairy farm and can also be used with herd management software.

Activity-based heat detection with a bolus system located in the dairy cow’s rumen; these technologies offer a reliable and innovative alternative for progressive heat detection and general monitoring of herds.

Calving detection through the use of a sensor system helps breeders detect the precise moment of calving, thereby mitigating adverse events, if any, due to dystocia, etc.

In the absence of precision technologies, livestock management decisions will be based almost entirely on the judgment and experience of the rancher. Therefore, the quantification of these aspects through precision technologies provides an objective measure to identify individual animals or groups of animals.

Status of Precision Dairy Farming in India: In India, few farms/organizations have adopted precision technologies which have been developed with the help of Indian and foreign companies in the dairy farming sector. In 2000, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) introduced radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. These systems provide accurate cow identification and are linked to pedigree, management events, treatment records, electronic milk meters, computer controlled feeding, automatic sorting and weighing, etc. In a similar vein, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has developed an Animal Productivity and Health Information Network (INAPH), an Android desktop/netbook/tablet-based field computing application that facilitates the capture of reliable real-time data on livestock, nutrition and health services delivered at the farmer’s doorstep. COWEL, AFIMILK, MOIRA (Management of Insemination through Routine Analysis), Herdman, Farm Tree, etc. are some of the innovative management systems that provide a professional and comprehensive tool for making day-to-day herd management decisions.

Precision dairy farming in many developing countries, including India, is in its infancy, but there are huge opportunities for improving individual animal and herd management on dairy farms. Despite wide availability, adoption of these technologies in the dairy industry has been relatively slow so far. The perceived economic returns of investing in new technology are probably the most important factor influencing the adoption of precision dairy farming technology. The most progressive producers will adopt new technologies that seem profitable. Although precision dairy farming is in its infancy, new precision dairy farming technologies are being introduced to the market every year.

As new technologies are developed in other industries, engineers and zootechnicians find applications in the dairy industry. Progressive farmers or groups of farmers, with guidance from public and private sectors and trade associations, can adopt it on a limited scale as the technology shows potential to increase yields and economic returns on fields with a significant variability, and to minimize degradation. Also, the right extension approaches and advisory services for farmers interested in PDF should be undertaken for its effective application under different socio-economic and ecological conditions. In the future, precision dairy farming technologies could change the way we manage our dairy cows.

(The author is Veterinarian and Technical Officer (Poultry), Kashmir Livestock Directorate, Red Cross Road Gaw Kadal Srinagar. E-mail: [email protected])

About Keneth T. Graves

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