Improving peri-urban dairy farms
By Dr Ali Muhammad Khushk and Aslam
Pakistan is blessed with a good genetic potential for dairy
development. Buffalo, being the principal source of milk,
produces about 66 per cent i.e., 24.2 million tonnes, while
cows contribute 32 per cent, and goats and sheep two per cent.
Despite good genetic potential among animals, low production
is due to poor nutrition, mis-management, failure to control
diseases, and lack of proper marketing of this highly
In urban and peri-urban areas, the cost of milk production is
high. Production in rural area is untapped on account of the
perishable nature of milk, poor transportation, and
According to an FAO report, buffaloes are recognized as the
"Black gold of Asia". The average yield per lactation has been
calculated from 1800 to 2500 litres, while few specimen can
produce up to 6,000 litres in 305 days.
Milk of buffalo is low in cholesterol and high in calcium than
of cow, sheep or goat. It contains 18-23 per cent protein,
fat, minerals as compared to 13-16 per cent in cow's.
This is advantageous for production of cheese and other
products. The meat of buffalo is tasty and contains low
saturated fat than beef. Buffalo is superior to other draught
animals in wet or waterlogged conditions, such as in muddy
They can also be used for cart haulage, carrying heavier loads
than cattle, and also help in improving the soil structure and
fertility while treading paddy fields.
Each year, an adult buffalo produces 4 to 6 tonnes of wet
manure plus additional urine as bio-fertilizer to the land.
This reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, as well as
provides essential soil humus which chemicals are unable to
Buffaloes are cash savings, ensuring socio-economic security
to farmers. Their value increases without incurring heavy
costs, plus the advantage of reproduction.
About one-third of the total milk production is consumed as
fluid, and similar quantity for ghee preparation, while the
remainder is converted into butter, cream and indigenous milk
products like curd, khoya and lassi. In Sindh peri-urban dairy
farms are the main source of fresh milk supply.
There are two types of buffalo sheds, 55 per cent Kacha - made
up of wood as temporary arrangement, and 45 per cent Pacca -
permanently brick and cement constructed. Around 84 per cent
of farms are dependent on groundwater, while the remaining 15
per cent on supplies.
Nutritional feed, the most important factor, is hampering the
livestock productivity in general and milk production in
particular. This area needs immediate attention.
In traditional livestock farming they are fed chopped fodder
and wheat straw. Rarely, home grown grains, kitchen wastes and
concentrates are offered to milking animals.
However, commercial livestock owners purchase fodder and
concentrate from markets. Concentrate generally contains wheat
bran, cottonseed cake and rice polishing or crushed wheat.
The use of compound feed, urea-molasses blocks and treated
straw is uncommon. A survey has revealed that dairy farms use
traditional feed system. Lactating animals are fed chopped
green fodder with wheat straw and cottonseed cake.
Resource allocation is the main axle on which the
profitability of an enterprise revolves. Optimum use and
proper combination of inputs results in high productivity.
Resource allocation, and cost estimation help in planning,
along with determining the scale of operation, level of gains
and economic feasibility of the enterprise. It serves as a
yardstick to efficiency.
Initial investment in dairy farm includes the costs of land,
shed, animals, water and electricity connection and fodder
cutting machine cost. The fixed costs are rent, utensils for
keeping milk (baskets, canes), iron chains, pegs and ropes and
the labour engaged for looking after the animals.
Although, retail price is set by the District Food Committee,
the price at producer level is determined with the mutual
agreement of trading parties. During the survey, it was
observed that the producer sells milk to retailers at Rs17 per
litre in small size farms.
While in medium and large farms it is sold to retailer at Rs18
per litre, and the producer/retailer sell to consumer at
Rs20-22 per litre. This indicates that market forces (demand
and supply) play an important role in determining the prices
at producer's level, the market at producer's level seems to
be fairly competitive.
The purpose of the survey was to conduct detailed
investigation on cost, benefit analysis of buffalo milk
production in Sindh and it was carried out in the peri-urban
areas of district Hyderabad.
The target sample was buffalo milk producers who keep
buffaloes on commercial level. Sampled respondents are divided
in three categories i.e., small less than owning 10 buffaloes,
medium 11-50 and large above 50. It was investigated that each
producer keeps six, 25 and 70 buffaloes, respectively.
Milk production is a labour-intensive operation. Constraints
like shortage of feed, high mortality rate, poor genetic
potential, high input cost, scarcity of sources and inadequate
marketing systems have rendered the sector undeveloped.
Milk producers do not apply scientific method of feeding. The
proper combination of feed can raise milk output. Sanitation
conditions in sheds are poor. Milk is transported through
pick-up, public transport and motorcycle in case of long
distances, and on bicycle and horse or donkey carts for short
The road link between rural and urban areas is not well
established and the distant producers, due to the high
perishable nature of milk, are unable to bring it to urban
Animals with high genetic potential are the main source in
dairy production strategy of any country. Pakistan owns quite
a number of breeds having the characteristics of high milk
production and are well adapted to local environmental
There is a need for genetic evaluation and breed organization
techniques. Services of artificial insemination should be
extended. Superior fodder should be identified and propagated.
Year round fodder production systems should be devised.
Legume, non-legume crop combination could improve the feeding
status of livestock. Better feeding of livestock could be
achieved if vertical expansion of production is followed.
Different rations should be formulated to achieve better
utilization of nutrient in animals. Feeding should be aimed at
keeping in view the physiological stage of animals rather than
feeding animals haphazardly.