Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cow Milk Strategy for India

Cow Milk Strategy for India
(subodh Kumar-Email:

1. India has the world’s oldest domesticated pasture cow tradition. Modern scientific researches and Indian belief both confirm that Milk of a cow of Indian breed, fed on greens is indeed nature’s best gift to mankind.
Modern researches have confirmed that :-
1. 1 Grass fed Cow’s milk is very rich in EFA’ (Essential Fatty Acids) viz. CLA’s (Conjugated Linolenic and Linoleic Acids). Such milk has low saturated fatty acid content. ( Same is true for beef also .) This is universally accepted as a strategy by USDA, and EU Lipgene project. Omega 3 is the more important constituent of Grass fed Cow’s milk, particularly for brain and eyes.
1.2 Cows of Indian breeds (Bos Indicus) are recognized as
producers of A2 type milk , as against cows of HF(Holstein
Frisians) Bos Taurus group that produce A1 type of milk .
(World Dairy industry led by NZ farmers - the leaders in
this field- are reported to be implementing a program to
convert all NZ herd to A2 type milk producer by stopping
cross breeding with HF A1 semen.
(Could the resulting low world demand for HF semen be the reason for very attractive generous offers for supply of HF semen by USA to India, that Indian Govt. has very quickly agreed to import?)

2. Opportunity & Challenge

This presents for India a great opportunity to build on the tremendous strength of our nation, already the largest producer of Milk in the world.
2.1 Indian breeds of cows represent the world’s largest A2
milk producing herd. Traditionally Indians have been raised
on A2 Milk for thousands of years. That accounts for
excellent health and mental abilities of Indians.
2.2 In preference over cross bred cow’s milk or buffalo
Milk of Indian breeds of Cows enjoys excellent USP in
India. This presents tremendous commercial opportunity.
2.3 Per capita consumption and availability of liquid milk in
India is about the lowest in the world and has a fantastic
Demand Potential. This is where a tremendous challenge to
Animal Science experts of India, and the greatest
economical development opportunity for India exists.

3.1. A2 Milk
Milk of only Indian breeds of Cows, ( Confirmed by laboratory type testing as being free from BCM 7(Beta Caso Morphine 7) from a DNA tested herd, for A2 milk should be supplied as separate Milk, not mixed with Buffalo or A1 HF milk. States such as Gujarat that produce large quantities of natural A2 Milk from its Gir cows fit excellently well to take a lead . Pure milk of Indian breeds of Cows commands very good premium prices in India.

3.2 Low fat A2 milk as the premium grade A2 milk, can
command very high premium prices and cater to better informed clientele not only in India but around the world.
EU under its Lipgene project is conducting research
simultaneously in 21 laboratories in Europe to produce designer’s natural milk that has low total fat and high EFA content.
Indian cows were traditionally pasture fed. (Stall feeding of cattle and concentrated prepared feed is a rather recent development from Indian point of View.)

Cows raised in Pastures as reported in Kautilya’s Arth Shastr had total fat content of less than 1%. This is when Cow’s Milk was truly Amrit- Nature’s Nectar- a preventive and cure for all self degenerating diseases of human body. Taking guidance from our ancient cow management practices in Vedas and other Sanskrit texts, it is not difficult for us in India to produce within foreseeable future, a ‘Designer’s Milk’ with low total fat content. By reducing fat content, the milk yield also goes up.
Indians over thousands of years had enjoyed such low fat high EFA , A2 type Milk of Indian cows. The high Omega 3 content of this milk explains the secret of the well recognized highly developed capacity of Indian brains in the world.
Low in total Fat & high EFA Milk of Indian breeds of Cows will be the most highly prized A2 milk from commercial considerations.
3.3 A2 Milk Based Infant food.
A2 milk is considered most important for baby food and milk
formulae. This presents India with an excellent commercial
opportunity to become a world leader in Infant milk food
4. Research & Development Work
It is concede that Indian breeds of cows are in general very low milk producers . India thus faces extreme shortage of Cow’s Milk. This situation can be changed over a period of time with sincere efforts , by improving the green fodder availability and breeding with pedigree Bulls. ET and AI in controlled manner can also be of great help.
4.1 AI as Breeding Practices :-
AI (Artificial Insemination) is indeed a marvel of modern veterinary science. In US success rates of AI exceeding 80% , as also same cows delivering more than ten calves in good Dairy farms is not an exception.
4.1.1 AI Experience in India
With best of our efforts in last 60 years, it has not been possible to achieve overall AI success rates better than 25% in India. Economic hardship of farmers due to extended dry period on account of deficient AI delivery has never been assessed by any body in India.
4.1.2. Repeatedly failed AI cattle become infertile. Fibroids caused by lack of professional expertise of the AI provider staff, after a few calving renders good fertile cows incapable of future conception. Loss of good milk yielding cows due to infertility has also never been assessed in the Indian Animal Husbandry practice. By poor AI delivery apart from tremendous burden on farmers in feeding cows for the extended dry period, excellent milk cattle is being turned infertile.
In this way AI is helping the cow slaughter industry.

4.1.3. Inbreeding with AI is a well recognized problem in developed world Dairies also. In India as it is we have a lot of inbreeding trouble, AI is being performed for better cattle. But big potential loss of good cattle by inbreeding is inherent in AI.

4.1.4. A more practical approach to AI in Indian context is not to overlook the advantages of Natural breeding methods.
Overall total cost of natural breeding service under Indian conditions is far more advantageous than AI.
4.1.5. AI and ET –Embryo Transfer – techniques can be practiced under controlled expert institutions and larger Goshalas as support for the Field Services.
4.1.6. Govt. should consider to shrink its present infrastructure on AI straw production centers, and AI services, by taking a very pragmatic view of their performance in the last many decades under Indian conditions. Saving to the national exchequer and hardships being faced by poor cattle owning farmers will be very significant. Large number of good cows that become infertile due to poor AI delivery practice will also be saved.

4.2 Cross Breeding
In India large number of identifiable phenotypes of Indian breeds of cows had evolved to suit the natural conditions, over the last thousands of years. Let us not consciously loose this nature’s precious gift to our country. In view of the modern researches about A2 milk, it will be prudent on the part of our Government to stop cross breeding with A1 type mainly HF semen.

4.2.1 Supply of Natural Breeding Bulls.
Government cattle research institutions should be encouraged to share with Goshalas and similar institutions , better pedigree A2 milk producing calves to be raised as good natural service Bulls.
The present practice of culling the unpromising Cows, Heifers, Male calves and Bulls by periodic disposal should be reformed to share good young male and female stock with range and extension services.
4.2.2 It is our experience that there is great shortage of good natural service providing bulls in India. This can be met by providing good pedigree male calves for being raised as Natural Service Bulls. Goshalas and Gosadans should be actively involved in this Bull development work.

5. Feed Strategies

5.1 Green Fodder, Pasture is best
Modern veterinary research has been devoting great efforts to the subject of animal nutrition. Development of various concentrated feed formulations has been propelled by Dairy Industry interests. In Indian context hardly 15% of Indian Milk is in the organized Dairy Sector. It is not logical to let this 15% interest dictate the 85% . Modern Veterinary science can also benefit by understanding traditional cattle rearing practices of India. Hardly any attention is paid to the fact that Indians have the world’s oldest continuous animal husbandry tradition.
5.1.1 Green Fodder and self fed pasture practice results in the lowest cost of milk production and at the same time healthiest milk for human nutrition – low in total fats and high in EFA contents.
5.1.2 A very cautious approach is also required to develop alternative cattle feed formulations based on preparing artificially extracted and developed cattle feed constituents. It is very difficult to assess the long term usage effects that may prove harmful in the long run.
5.1.3 Indian knowledge based on thousands of years of practice has always advocated pasture based green fodder. The latest researches and practices in NZ , Lipgene project in EU, and researches of Prof. William A. Albrecht of University of Missouri, Columbia are there to support this proposition.

5.2 Low Milk yield Green Fodder Connection.
Experts have been advising about effects of Heat Stress, and exotic cross bred cattle as the main reason for wide annual fluctuation in milk productivity of cattle in India. But even the Indian breeds of Milk cows have been observed to show very similar annual milk production variation. A study of our closely monitored herd over last ten years, indicates that loss in milk production of Cattle in India is very closely related to non availability of adequate good Fresh Green Fodder through out the year. Just by making green fodder available throughout the year a minimum 20% increase of milk production can be achieved. To support this hypothesis the milk production variation over last ten years in our Goshala is attached.(Annex-1)

5.3 Enhancing Green Fodder Availability
Problem- land avaialabilty: This indeed is the greatest challenge for multidiscipline innovative research intervention for experts and business houses to take up. This also presents a win win opportunity for every body. Tremendous social, political and commercial advantages that will also result from success of this strategy can hardly be exaggerated. Lot of research in traditional fodder crops and grasses has been going on in many research institutions. But pressure on cultivable land to produce food and horticulture crops for human consumption makes green fodder cultivation very uneconomical use of cultivable land. Almost total loss of Pastures makes it very difficult to depend on grasses. Vagaries of weather, shortage of irrigation water also affect green fodder availability.
5.3.1 Development of perennial leaf Fodder Trees for harvesting by pollarding/coppicing should be paid more attention , in different climate zones of India.
5.3.2 Development of Blue Green Algae such Azolla should also form an important constituent of green fodder for cattle.
5.3.3 Hydroponics Fodder :-
Indian experience with Hydroponics fodder with imported Fometa devices nearly twenty years ago due to inept handling , was given up as a bad dream. World over Hydroponics fodder is considered a very important Green highly nutritive, high digestibility cattle feed alternative strategy. By vertical growing it improves land use nearly 200 times and reduces irrigation water requirement to mere 5% of normal cultivation and completely immune from vagaries of weather.
We can develop our own Hydroponics Fodder device designs in India to suit various climate zones. As practiced abroad, for India it is not necessary to use air-conditioning and artificial lighting to grow Hydroponics Fodder . It is also possible to avoid use of chlorine as sanitizing agent against fungus problems. Combined with a Biogas plant a Hydroponics Fodder system is a completely green energy based fodder production method for Indian conditions. Just two kg/day of any coarse grain can provide a complete highly digestible & nutritious balanced cattle feed for an average Indian cow, through out the year.

Post Script:-This submission is based on over 15 years of past practical experience at Maharishi Dayanand Gosamwardhan Kendra located in East Delhi. We have a herd of about 500 cows, a daily milk production of about 800 Liters. We have also been engaged in Hydroponics Fodder production experimental work over last 5 years.