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Common management practices

Important activities one should take care in dairy farming including weaning, disbudding, ear tagging, castration, vaccination, quarantine and record maintenance are explained here

Colostrum feeding

  1. Colostrum is the first milk secreted after parturition.
  2. It contains large amount of gamma globulins which are anti-bodies produced by the cow against antigens encounter during her life including those against many disease producing organisms.
  3. Colostrum is highly fortified source of nutrient having 7 times the protein and twice the total solids of normal milk, thus it gives an early boost in portion and solid intake.
  4. It contain higher amount of minerals and vitamin A which are essential to combat disease. Ingestion of these through colostrum substantially increases the calf’s survivability.
  5. Absorption of these antibodies provides the calf with an umbrella of passive immunity.
  6. Colostrum gives a laxative effect which is helpful in expulsion of muconium (first faeces).
  7. It will be highly useful to feed colostrum in the first 15-30 minutes followed by a second dose in approximately 10-12 hours.
  8. First ½ hour to 12 hours of life, calf should be given with colostrum of its 5-8 % of body weight. Then 2nd and 3rd day, it should be of 10% of its body weight.
  9. The excess colostrum can be stored by refrigeration and can be used to other calves or orphan calves.

Weaning

  1. Separation of calf and making independent of its mother for food is known as weaning.
  2. Now days, early weaning is recommended for better management.
  3. Under early weaning system, weaned calves housed separately and scientific feeding schedule and managemental practices followed.
  4. In this method, the cow is not allowed to suckle by its calf after colostrum feeding.
  5. Instead, the cow is completely milked out and required quantities of whole milk or skim milk are fed to the calf.
  6. Weaned calves should be trained to drink milk from pails / nipple pail so that feeding management is easier.
  7. Weaned calves should be weighed every week and the quantity of milk to be fed is calculated accordingly.

Disbudding

  1. Arresting the horn growth at an early age, when the horn root is in the bud stage is called disbudding.
  2. This is practiced mainly in exotic and cross breeds of cattle.
  3. Cattle with horns inflict bruises on each other that may result in heavy economic losses.
  4. Horned animals are a danger to the operator and without horns, handling becomes easy.
  5. Disbudding also essential to reduce the space for animals in the sheds.
  6. Disbudding should be done for calf at the age of 15-20 days itself.
  7. It is carried out through using hot iron and chemicals.
  8. Electric hot iron is bloodless method it may be used at any season.
  9. The iron rod heated with electricity has an automatic control that maintain the temperature at about 10000 F, applying it to the horn bud for l0 seconds is sufficient to destroy the horn tissue.
  10. Caustic potash or caustic soda is the common chemical used for disbudding.
  11. These are available in the form of paste or solution.
  12. Clip the hair around the horn buds and surrounding area, a ring of Vaseline to protect the eyes against chemicals.
  13. Rub the chemical over the buds until bleeding occurs.

Ear tagging

  1. It is the most popular method of identification of farm animals.
  2. It facilitates easy supervision, management and accurate record maintenance.
  3. It requires tagging forceps and tags
  4. The numbers in the tags should be contrast and clear style based on the skin colour of the animal.
  5. Location of tag in the ear for tagging should be half the way between base and tip of the ear.
  6. The ear tag is applied in the ear by puncturing the ear with the applicator.

Castration

  1. To render the animal docile, to control indiscriminate breeding and to prevent certain genital diseases castration is performed.
  2. It is also performed to induce faster gain in body weight and to improve the quality of meat.
  3. Castration also results in lean and slender neck which facilitates the correct fitness of yoke especially in work cattle.
  4. It is performed in young animals within 2-3 months through surgical method and elastrator method.
  5. In adult animals within one year of age, castration performed through closed method using Burdizzo castrators.
  6. The Burdizzo castrator crushes the spermatic cord and thus stopping the blood to the testes and results in atrophy of the testes and stoppage of spermatozoa production.
  7. Castration should be performed during cold season and strictly avoid rainy season for fear of fly problems.
  8. Castrated animals should be rested for few days in clean and comfortable pens.
  9. Burdizzo castrator method is safe, quick and less chance of getting infection.
  10. Elastrator rings are very painful to the animal and so it is not usually recommended.

Vaccination schedule for adult animals

Vaccine

Months

Foot and mouth

January to February

Abortion causing brucellosis

March to April

Anthrax disease

April to may

Foot and mouth disease( twice a year)

June to July

Black quarter

August to September( before monsoon)

Hemorrhagic septicemia

September to October

Disinfection

  1. Disinfection means destruction of pathogenic microorganisms from a place so that the place becomes free from infection.
  2. Disinfection can be brought about with the help of physical, chemical and gaseous agents.
  3. Chemical disinfectants are very widely used in veterinary practice, as their aqueous solutions are easy to prepare.
  4. Chemical disinfectants are cheap and have a broad spectrum of activity.
  5. Chemical disinfectants are good disinfectant neither stains nor damages materials and are free of undesirable odours.
  6. Boric acid (4-6%), Sodium hydroxide (1, 2 and 5%) and Calcium hydroxide (lime water, slaked lime) are commonly available for disinfection of animal houses.
  7. Formaldehyde (5-10%) can be used for washing floor of animal houses.
  8. Glutaraldehyde 2% aqueous solution is useful for sterilization of instruments.
  9. Quarternary ammonium compounds; cetavlon; savlon are detergents and soaps, are used mainly for washing. They remove grease, dirt and other organic matter.
  10. Bleaching powder (calcium hypochlorite), Copper sulfate (5mg/lit) and Potassium permanganate (1-2mg/lit) are commonly used disinfectants.
  11. Calcium oxide is used in the burial pits to dispose the carcass and for land application.
  12. Calcium hydroxide (slaked) mixed with 5% phenol is commonly used in white washing of the walls of farm houses as disinfectant.
  13. 1 kg of bleaching powder (chlorinated lime) can be used with 25 litres of water makes a very good deodorant.
  14. Phenol (0.5 to 5%) and Sodium carbonate (2.5-4%) can be used for farm buildings.

Quarantine

  1. Quarantine is the process of segregating apparently healthy animals (especially animal being introduced into a herd or into the country for the first time) which have been exposed to the risk of infection.
  2. Quarantine period depends on the incubation period of diseases.
  3. In practice, a minimum period of 30 to 40 days has been generally accepted as the reasonable period; but in case of diseases like rabies this period is up to 6 months.
  4. Normally newly purchased animals and animals returned from show should be kept in the quarantine shed.
  5. The shed should be constructed at the entrance of the farm.
  6. They should be dipped or sprayed on the 25th / 26th day to remove the ectoparasites.

Isolation of sick animals

  1. Isolation is the process of segregation of affected and in contact animals from the apparently healthy ones, in the event of outbreak of a contagious disease.
  2. Such segregated animals should preferably be housed in a separate isolation shed situated far away from the normal animal house.
  3. If a separate shed is not available the animals for isolation should be tied at one end of the shed as far away from the apparently healthy stock as possible.
  4. Attendants and equipment for sick animals should be ideally separate.
  5. If due to practical reasons this is not possible the sick animals should be attended only after the healthy stock.
  6. The equipment should be thoroughly disinfected after use in the isolation group.
  7. The attendant should wash his hands, feet and gumboots in antiseptic lotions and change his cloths.
  8. The isolated animals are brought back to the healthy herd only after they are fully recovered and the chance of passing on infection is removed.

Insuring the animals

  1. It provides protection mechanism to the farmers and cattle rearers against any eventual loss of their animals due to death and to attaining qualitative improvement of livestock and their products.
  2. Farmers (small/ large/ marginal) and cattle rearers having the cross breed and high yielding cattle and buffaloes are the eligible beneficiaries.
  3. Covered risks are death of cattle due to accident inclusive of flood, cyclone, famine or any other fortuitous circumstances, diseases, surgical operations, riot, strike, terrorism and earthquake.
  4. Animals can be insured for maximum (100%) of their current market value.
  5. The General Insurance Corporation of India (GIC), New India Insurance and Oriental insurance are the major insurance companies providing cattle and buffalo insurance.
  6. For insuring animals, the farmers and animal owners first have to contact their nearest government veterinary doctors / qualified veterinary practitioners / Animal Husbandry department.

Disposal of carcass

  1. The primary purpose of safe disposal of carcass is to ensure the check and spread of disease either to other susceptible animals or humans.
  2. Carcasses of animals may be disposed of by sending them to knackeries or by burial or burning.
  3. The carcass must be buried in its skin, be covered with a sufficient quantity of quicklime or other disinfectants.
  4. The dead animals should be arranged upon its back with feet upwards.
  5. The skin is slashed inside the pit all cases except in the case of anthrax.
  6. Burning of carcass can be done by surface burning and flame gun methods.

Record maintenance

  1. Record keeping is an essential practice in animal husbandry.
  2. It needs daily, regular recording the details in the farm office by manager or farmer.
  3. Each animal in the herd is identified with respect to their production performance by using available records.
  4. With the help of records close management and appropriate feeding levels can be provided on the basis of production level.
  5. It also facilitates increased efficiency of culling and selection which in turn will increase the profit rate.
  6. Relative influence of feeding, management and breeding can be assessed on production performance.
  7. Livestock marketing can be promoted on the basis of performance records.
  8. Comparison of herd performance between and within breeds is possible.
  9. Superior stock can be identified for extensive use in breeding programmes.
  10. Herd and breed registration programmes can be implemented more effectively.
Registers to be maintained in a dairy farm
  1. Daily stock register
  2. Birth/calving register
  3. Calf / young stock register
  4. Adult stock register
  5. Breeding register/ AI register
  6. Weighment / growth register
  7. Milk yield and distribution register
  8. Sales/ disposal register
  9. Fodder/ feed stock register
  10. Receipt/ Income register
  11. Herd health register
  12. Mortality register

Source: Expert System for Cattle & Buffalo, Directorate of Extension Education, TANUVAS

Related resources

  1. Cattle Health Management - Learning Resources from RAGACOVAS
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