How can milk quantity and quality be improved in India? A reasonable assumption would be that one size of farm, or one type of dairy chain, does not fit all. Yet whether a country is classified as developed or developing, the basic rule of continuous improvement is shared.

A common starting point for improvement is to analyse the sustainability of the flow of milk from cow to consumer. Milk quality and quantity is only as high as the weakest link in the chain.

Once general definitions of milk quality and quantity as well as sustainability have been established, focus will be on two critical success factors:

  • Know-how transfer – to increase understanding of the importance of milk quality and quantity, from producer to consumer. From planning and design stage up to running the farm on a daily basis.
  • A sustainable dairy value chain – to continuously improve the sustainability of the value chain by designing and/or actively looking for win-win opportunities.

Know-how transfer

At the farm level, know-how requires taking a holistic view on milk production, including animal welfare, farm profitability, environmental resource management and social responsibility. Since the transfer of know-how commonly starts with the family on farm, priorities include establishment of transfer systems to bridge the gap between hardware investments and user capabilities.

Sustainable dairy value chain

In some industries, a new production unit can reach capacity in a matter of months. In dairy farming, it takes several years for a new farm to get into full operation. Milk production is also more complex and capital intensive than single-process farming systems such as crop production. High capital investment requires a business model that considers all the parties involved.



Based on our experience and involvement in implementation and management of dairy farm projects, we would like to offer a pattern of cash flow for the farmer to ensure sustainable development of the business.

The first stage will be to do a feasibility study during the planning phase wherein all logistics related to milk production (Figure 1) must be taken into consideration like:

  • Milk centre (including utility building, office, etc)
  • Animal housing
  • Maternity area
  • Treatment area
  • Manure storage
  • Feed and bedding storage.

Figure 1: Main logistic considerations in planning a dairy farm.


Figure 2: Main factors affecting cow performance.

The second step will be to secure the biological part, that is, cow performance. This requires several factors (Figure 2) to be looked into and they require planning and monitoring on a continuous basis:

  • The foremost factor related to cow performance is indeed feedstuffs which accounts for 50 to 70 per cent of the daily running cost of farms. The dairy farmer should start with balancing the feeding programme, on general level, improving the feeds quality and quantity that is presented to the cows including the drinking water – 150 litres of fresh clean water per day per cow. Focusing on nutrition like hay and silage preparation, concentrate quality and quantity, way of presenting the feeds, dry matter of the total feeds and so on. By doing this, there will be improvement in milk production, animal health and milk quality (solids in the milk depend on feed ration, particle size and quality). The farmer will be able to increase the turnover/income in short time, usually positive results can be expected after 3 months. So it will be a win-win situation. Then, the farmer will believe in the possibilities to improve profitability, and will be ready to invest in improvement of different issues related to milk quality, cow comfort, feeding, genetics, etc. Each farm is unique and different, therefore it is not possible to copy and paste ration from farm to farm!
  • Simultaneously, milk quality and milking management should be followed. It would be adequate if training is given to the workers to strictly follow the 12 golden rules of milking (See Box).
  • Cow comfort – The housing and management of the herd is especially important for cows in heat stress conditions. Farmers generally ignore this aspect. Even on small scale farms, much improvement is possible by giving some shade to the cows, increasing ventilation, giving cold water for drinking and trying to prevent any stress on the cow, including heat stress. Bedding is one of the main keys to success. Cows should lie down on clean, dry, soft bedding that is available 24 hours, 7 days and 365 days. Without this, both milk quality and quantity will not improve.
  • Social responsibility – This part of the know-how transfer will include training related to food safety and food security. In India, milk is part of the daily diet by tradition and cows are part of the society as well. So, milk produced on the farm must be safe meeting national and international standards.

To build up a sustainable dairy chain, all small details that will secure high quality and quantity of milk from each cattle or buffalo according to its genetic potential must be looked into. The farmer must understand and implement efficient dairy farming practices.