Bridging Veterinary Services Chasm to Improve Per Animal Productivity (Section 1)

To optimise profits in small or large dairy operations, the critical issue is producing maximum possible milk economically using available resources. Amongst the important factors affecting productivity are genetics, nutrition, management and diseases. Fortunately, these factors are amenable to optimisation provided farmers and their veterinarians make planned efforts to improve genetics, prevent infectious diseases, formulate cost-effective feeding systems and prevent underperformances. Although herd health and productivity management systems are popular and standardised for intensive herds, these have now been adapted for small dairy farms. In last ten years, these concepts have been implemented in several dairy cooperatives and private organisations. This article is an attempt to discuss current status and narrate my experience.
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Bridging Veterinary Services Chasm to Improve Per Animal Productivity (Section 2)

In order to keep dairy animals productive, they should remain healthy which is possible by preventing occurrence of common infectious diseases in the farm. Infections are introduced in the farm from variety of sources. Recognising these sources and eliminating entry of pathogens in the farm is the most economical way of tackling infectious diseases. In this section, the golden rules for preventing disease introduction and spread in the farm are discussed.
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Bridging Veterinary Services Chasm to Improve Per Animal Productivity (Section 3)

Efficient reproduction management leads to a number of benefits, such as reduced culling rate, shorter inter-calving period, more numbers of lactation from superior cows and buffaloes, lower cost of replacement and early genetic improvement in the herd. The reproductive problems are not typical infection associated issues but an outcome of a number of management, feeding and hygiene related factors. Experience has shown that if a sound reproductive health management programme is implemented, these problems can be brought down to great extent that too economically with minimum use of antibiotics, other drugs and hormones. In this section, a holistic programme is presented based on decades of experience in understanding and solving these problems in both intensive and small farms. The core requirement of the system is dynamic reproduction record keeping and interventions based on data analysis. This approach is illustrated with few practical examples.
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Bridging Veterinary Services Chasm to Improve Per Animal Productivity (Section 4)

With promulgation of Food Safety and Standards Act 2006, it has become important to produce food items that are safe for human consumption. Since milk and milk products are widely consumed, it is essential that dairy farmers and the industry pay attention to milk quality, which means free from pathogens and adulterants. Many dairy organisations took up mastitis control programme under quality milk campaigns but it largely remained ad hoc, intermittent and did not nail the root causes. In this section, an effort is made to provide a practical approach and strategies to develop sound and feasible control programmes. My experience re-emphasises focus on data recording of milk and disease, proper investigations, identification of causal factors and surveillance as four cornerstones of the mastitis control programme.
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Bridging Veterinary Services Chasm to Improve Per Animal Productivity (Section 5)

Calf rearing is an investment in future of the farm. Dairy farmers must realise that the genetic improvement is expected in the next generation calves hence the goal of the farm should be to implement better breeding programme followed by calf-rearing. Even rearing of calves up to pregnant heifer stage and marketing of excess heifers could be a good business option especially to those farmers who have land and can cultivate enough fodder. Compared to rearing of milking animals, calf rearing is not time or resource demanding but requires distinct skills and infrastructure. In calf-rearing the first week of life of the calf is important as up to 55-60 per cent mortality could occur at this age, whereas 20-30 per cent mortality can occur in the second week. There could be numerous reasons for calf mortality, but faulty management and poor approach to feeding are the most important ones. For health and survival of new-born calves, colostrum feeding is of utmost importance. Various components of the calf health management programme are discussed here.
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