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Dairy Farm Management, Practice Problems and FAQs

Dairy Farm Management, Practice Problems and FAQs

Primitive man lived in jungles and caves. They were collecting food from the natural vegetation and hunting animals. They followed a nomadic (wandering around) life in that period. The last phase of the stone age is referred to as the Neolithic age (Neo means ‘new’ and lithic means ‘stone’). Humans in this phase were skilled enough to make strong sturdy tools from stones and hence they shifted from hunters to cultivators. Then around 10,000 years ago, humans started farming and growing their own food. Thus they shifted to a sedentary lifestyle. 

They also started keeping animals like dogs for their safety in this period. Over time they started rearing animals like sheep, cows, etc., for milk, meat and clothes. They also started fishing also. This crop cultivation and cattle raising improved their diet.

Fig: Neolithic age

Now also dairy farm management is an important aspect of agriculture. Did you know, India is one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of dairy. A cow is more valuable for its milk, cheese, butter and yoghurt than for its meat. About 73% of calcium available in the food supply is provided by milk and milk products. Milk is packed with essential nutrients including protein, calcium and vitamin D. Most of you like dairy products. It is part of our daily life. Let’s understand more about dairy in this article. 

Table of contents


The breeding, raising, and utilisation of dairy animals like cows, buffalo, goats, camels, sheep etc., for the production of milk and other milk products is called dairy. In India, dairy farm animals are mainly milk yielding cows and buffaloes. Goats and camels also constitute a tiny fraction of dairy farm animals. Some of the dairy products are milk, butter, cheese, ghee, paneer, buttermilk, and khoya. 

Fig: Dairy farm

Types of breeds

Breed refers to a set of animals which closely resemble each other in certain marked features by descent. There are different types of breeds of cattle depending on various criteria.

Types of breeds depends on their origin

There are two types of breeds based on the origin as follows: 

Indigenous or desi breeds

They are breeds that are native to India. Examples include cows like Amrithmahal, Hallikar, Sahiwal, Haryana and Sindhi. Examples of buffaloes include Murrah, Surti, Nagpuri and Mehsana. 

Common indigenous or desi cow breeds

The following are the common indigenous or desi cow breeds:


It is a breed originated from Mysore. Their colour varies from white to shades of black with streaks of greyish white markings. Their head is elongated with a ridge in the middle and a bulging forehead. 

Fig: Male Amritmahal


It is a breed originated from Tumkur and Hassan districts of Karnataka. They are primarily meant for transport and field work. They have an elongated head with a ridge in the middle. Their colour varies between light or dark grey with patches of deep shades on the forehead and hind quarters. 

Fig: Hallikar


It is a breed originated from Punjab. They yield 1400 - 2500 kg milk per lactation. They have broad heads and short horns. Their colour varies between red and brown with shades of white.

Fig: Sahiwal cow


It is a breed originated from West Pakistan. They possess wide forehead and small thick horns. Their colour varies in different shades of red. They yield about 1250 - 1800 kg milk per lactation.

Fig: Sindhi cow


It is a breed originated from Haryana and Delhi. They are powerful work breeders. The bullocks are useful in ploughing and transport. Cows are good milk yielders. They have an elongated face with a flat forehead. Their colour varies between white or light grey.

Fig: Hariana

Types of indigenous or desi buffalo breeds

Buffalo breeds are of two types such as river type and swamp type. 

River type 

They are mainly milch breeds. Their total milk production is more than that of cows. 

Swamp type

They are commonly seen in the swampy regions of South Asia. They have widely spreading back-curving horns. Domesticated forms are commonly used as draught animals.

Common indigenous or desi buffalo breeds

The following are the common indigenous or desi buffalo breeds:


This breed originated from the Punjab-Haryana region. They have massive bodies with short broad backs and short limbs. They possess curled short horns. Females are good milk yielders. They yield around 1400 - 2000 kg milk per lactation. 

Fig: Murrah


This breed originated from Gujrat. They are medium sized with a characteristic straight back. They have a fairly long head with sickle shaped horns. Their colour normally varies from black to brown. Females are good milk yielders. They yield around 900 - 1300 kg milk per lactation. 

Fig: Surti


This breed originated from Gujrat. It is a cross breed of Surti and Murrah. Their colour varies from back to grey. The females are good milk yielders. They yield around 1200 - 1500 kg milk per lactation. 

Fig: Mehsana


This breed originated from Central Southern India. Their colour is black with white patches restricted to face, legs and tips of tail. They have long curved horns. The females are good milk yielders. They yield around 700 - 1200 kg milk per lactation. 

Fig: Nagpuri

Exotic breeds

These are breeds that originated outside India and then imported to our country. Examples include Jersey, Ayrshire, Holstein - Friesian, Red Dane etc.

Common exotic cow breeds

The following are the common exotic cow breeds: 

Holstein - Friesian 

It is a breed that originated from the province of Friesland and North Holland in the Netherlands. They are the best milch breed in the world. They possess an elongated narrow head. Their colour is usually a combination of black and white or completely black or white. 

Fig: Holstein - Friesian

Red Dane 

It is a breed originated from Denmark. They are a dual purpose breed identified by their characteristic red colour. 

Fig: Red Dane


It is a breed that originated from the British Island of Jersey in the English Channel. They have a broad face with prominent eyes. Their colour ranges from grey to dark fawn or reddish-brown. Some appear almost black or spotted white. They are good milk yielders. 

Fig: Jersey


It is a breed originated from Ayrshire in South- West Scotland. Their horns are long and curved. Their colour is a mixture of red and white. Some are completely red or white. They are good milk yielders. 

Fig: Ayrshire

Types of breeds depends on their origin

There are three types of breeds based on their utility as follows: 

Milch breed

The breeds of cattle mainly meant for milk production are called milch breeds. Examples include Sindhi and Sahiwal.

Draught or draft breed

The breed meant mainly for transport and field work is called draught or draft breed. Examples include Hallikar and Amritmahal.

Dual purpose breed

They are used for both field work and production of milk. Examples include Ongole and Hariana


It is a breed originated from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The bullocks are suited for draft work and cows are good milk yielders. Their forehead is broad with stumpy horns. Their colour varies between shades of grey and white. 

Fig: Ongole


Camelus is the generic name of a camel. Camels have been domesticated as they provide milk, meat and textiles (fibre and felt from hair). Camels are suited to their desert habitat and are used as vital means of transport for passengers and cargo in the desert. 

Camel hair refers to the fur from the body of a camel. Fibre can be made from these hairs. We use either pure camel hair or a blend of camel hair with another fibre. Then these fibres are used for making coats, outer sweaters and underwear. The long coarse hairs may be used as a backing for carpets too.

Fig: Camel


Ovis is the scientific name of sheep. Female sheep are called ewes and males are called rams. Wool is the textile fibre obtained from sheep and other animals. The wool from one sheep is called a fleece. The bodies of wild sheep are covered by a coat of thick hair to protect them from the cold climates. Wool is widely used in clothing such as socks, suits etc. It is also used in the furniture making industry for making chair covers and for upholstery. 

Fig: Sheep and fleece


Equus asinus is the scientific name of donkey. Donkey milk is in high demand in Italy as an alternative milk source for human infants. It is a highly nutritious milk and used as an alternative milk source for human infants. First Indian donkey dairy to be set up in Hisar, Haryana. 

Fig: Donkey


Capra hircus is the scientific name of goat. They are reared for milk and meat production. The flesh of the mature ram (male) or ewe (female) at least one year old is called mutton. Goats constitute a tiny fraction of dairy farm animals. 

Fig: Goat

Dairy farm management

Following are the important aspects of managing a dairy farm which can improve the scenario of yield quality and quantity:

  • Good breeds
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Cleanliness and hygiene
  • Health
  • Transport
  • Summer and winter management

Good breeds

Milk yielding mainly depends on the quality of breeds in the farm. Selection of breeds with high yielding under the climatic conditions of the area is hence important. Disease resistant varieties are highly recommended. For example, a high milk yielding breed of cow Bos taurus taurus yields 20 L per day. 


Animals in dairy farms are fed in a scientific manner. Micronutrients are also important in the diet for good milk yielding. A balanced cattle feed must be provided to the cattle. 

Balanced cattle feed

The balanced cattle feed contains mainly two components as follows:


Coarse and fibrous substances having low nutrient contents constitute the roughage. It includes green fodder, grass and hay. 


It is low in fibres but contains relatively high proteins and other substances. It includes millets, cereals, oil seeds, gram, bran, husk, oil cakes etc. 


Animals must be kept in well built shelters according to their needs. It should be spacious to allow natural movement of animals. Well ventilated to maintain ambient temperature for the cattle. Sufficient light and water drainage systems are required. 

Cleanliness and hygiene

Timely cleaning is required because cleanliness and hygiene of shelter along with the animal handling person and animal is most important to avoid spread of any diseases or infection. The milking area should be free from the accumulation of the dirt and garbage. The udder and teats of the cattle should be cleaned before milking. Milking, storage and transport of milk is mechanised nowadays. This reduces the chances of spreading infections. 


The health of each and every individual in a dairy farm is very important. Even if a single individual develops some disease or infection it will spread among others very quickly. Therefore, regular inspection of each individual is a must. Their weight, fur and skin are examined externally and record is maintained. Animals are cleaned on regular intervals. Periodic veterinary visits are also arranged to keep the animals healthy and disease free.


Inappropriate transport facilities will lead to wastage as milk and milk products are perishable items. Therefore, transport of products is a crucial factor. This affects the quality of the product indirectly.

Summer and winter management

In summer adequate amounts of fresh and clean drinking water should be provided. Sprinkling of water in the shed reduces heat and stress. In winter normally the animals should be kept under cover, especially at night. 

Fig: Dairy farm management

Controlled Breeding

Controlled breeding is defined as a scientific process of mating selected individuals to produce offspring with desirable characteristics. Shifting from conventional to controlled breeding helps in customising the quality and quantity of the produce obtained. This is the most important process to achieve the goal of dairy farming, that is to improve the milk yield and its quality. Milk yielding capacity is highly dependent on quality of breed. Therefore, controlled mating between high milk yielding individuals and disease resistant individuals results in a hybrid which exhibits desired qualities. Such a breed will yield a high quantity of milk and will also be easy to maintain as it will also be disease resistant.

Fig: Controlled Breeding 

Milk Production in India

Before the 1970s India was a milk deficient nation. Dietary demand for milk was high. But due to inefficient management milk production in India was poor. After the 1970s, India became the world's largest milk producing nation. Then also the dietary demand for milk was high but due to efficient management milk production was high and the farmers were economically stable compared to older days. 

White Revolution

The revolution associated with the sharp increase in the production of milk in the country is commonly called the White Revolution in India. It is also known as Operation Flood. 

The Intensive Cattle Development Programme, which offered cattle owners a package of enhanced animal husbandry to support the white revolution in the nation, was established in India in the years 1964 – 1965. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) launched a brand-new initiative later which is called ‘operation flood’. This was aimed to quicken the country's white revolution. 

Verghese Kurien is the father of white revolution. It resulted mainly in increased milk production, supplemented rural income, ensured fair milk prices for consumers, provided employment and improved income for dairy farmers to ensure constant and steady supply of milk.


It is the secretion from the mammary glands of the phylum Mammalia normally after parturition to nourish the young ones. Cow’s milk provides 67 kilocalories of energy per 100 ml. 

Fig: Milk

Composition of milk

It is a complex fluid. It contains about 85% water and possesses proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. 


It is about 3.2% of the milk and exists in a colloid state. It consists of casein, lactalbumin and lactoglobulin mainly. 


It is about 4.1% of the milk. It consists of cholesterol, phospholipids, carotene etc. 


It constitutes about 4.5% of the milk and remains in a dissolved state. The main sugar in milk is lactose.


It is a disaccharide composed of galactose and glucose subunits and found in milk. The molecular formula of lactose is C12H22O11. It is present in dairy products and all products made from milk. Examples include cheese and ice cream. If a person's digestive system produces too little lactase enzyme to break down lactose, then he or she will develop lactose intolerance.


It consists of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, riboflavin and nicotinic acid.


It consists of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, bicarbonates, chlorides, sodium and potassium. 

Fig: Composition of milk

Economic importance of dairy farm animals

Cattle are not only reared for milk and draft purposes. They also provide a variety of other products. Few are explained below: 


It is a balanced food with almost all the required nutrients. Milk is approximately 87% water and 13% solids. Solids include fats, proteins (casein and albumin) and carbohydrates (lactose). Milk is light yellow in colour due to the presence of carotene.


It is the processed material obtained from the skin and hides of mammals. Tanning is considered as the process by which animal skins are converted into different grades using chemicals. Cattle hides are used for making soles of shoes, belt conveyors in industries and engine gaskets. Sheepskin is used for making purses, gloves, jackets etc. 


It is a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide mainly. It is commonly called gobar gas. It is a renewable fuel. 


It is a transparent, tasteless proteinaceous substance obtained from the non consumable parts of the cattle. It includes bones, horns, hooves and hairs. It is used commonly in food industries and photographic emulsions. 

Organic manure

It is normally obtained from the farm yard wastes. This includes dung, urine and remaining food products of the cattle. The farm yard has the necessary minerals like phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium etc. 

Milk products

Common milk products include curd, butter, ghee, buttermilk and cheese.

Fig: Milk products

Common diseases of the dairy farm animals

The following are the common diseases of the dairy farm animals:

Foot and mouth disease

It is also called hoof and mouth disease (HMD). It is an infectious viral disease that results in high fever lasting for two to six days. Fever is followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet. These blisters once rupture, it will lead to lameness. Adult animals will normally suffer weight loss for several months. In males it results in swellings in the testicles and in females it results in low lactation.

Fig: Common symptoms of foot and mouth disease

Black quarter or blackleg disease

It is an infectious disease caused by bacteria belonging to the genus Clostridium. Infection begins with fever and the affected limb of the animal normally experiences hot to the touch. It results in swelling of the limbs. In necropsy, the affected muscle is usually seen mottled with black patches because these are the tissues killed by the bacteria. Bacteria release toxins when they infect live tissues.

Fig: Common symptoms of black quarter or blackleg disease


It is an infection caused by Bacillus anthracis bacteria. In cattle the common symptoms include abrupt fever and a period of excitement followed by depression, respiratory or cardiac distress, staggering and convulsions. This finally leads to the death of the animal.

Fig: Common symptoms of anthrax

Influenza D virus

This virus is associated with respiratory disease in cattle. It causes a fever and respiratory problems.

Practice Problems

Q1. Which of the following is not a part of ‘dairy farm management’?

A. Transportation
B. Controlled breeding
C. Catching 
D. Health

Solution: Dairy farm management is the management of animals for milk and its products for human consumption. It includes food, shelter, health, and controlled breeding. Cattle feeding must be carried out scientifically. Good quality fodder provides appropriate nutrition. Quantity of fodder is calculated and fed on time. Adequate water intake is also important. A well built shelter, which is spacious, clean, hygienic and well ventilated is also important for the dairy animals. Regular grooming of animals, maintaining hygiene of each individual animal, regular inspection and record keeping and periodic veterinary check-ups are also important in dairy farm management. Controlled breeding is the scientific process of mating selected individuals to produce offspring with desirable characteristics. This will also produce good quality dairy animals. Catching is important in fisheries. Hence the correct option is c. 

Q2. Which of the following was not an objective of the White Revolution?

A. Increased milk production
B. Employment and improved income for dairy farmer
C. Supplement urban income
D. Fair milk prices for consumer

Solution: The period of White Revolution intended to make India a self-dependent nation in milk production. Today, India is the world’s largest producer of milk. Dr Verghese Kurien is known as the father of the White Revolution in India. Objectives of White Revolution in India are as follows: 

  • Increased milk production.
  • Supplement rural income.
  • Employment and improved income for dairy farmers.
  • Ensure constant and steady supply of milk in return from the farmers.
  • Fair milk prices for consumers. Hence option c is correct. 

 Q3. Dairying : Management of animals for milk and its products 

Lactation : ______________

A. Practice of breeding, rearing, caring and raising of livestock
B. Secretion of milk from the mammary glands
C. Management of animals for milk and its products
D. Producing of milk products

Solution: Lactation is the secretion of milk from the mammary glands. It occurs naturally after parturition in the post pregnancy stage. The mother feeds their offspring with milk after parturition. Hence option b is correct. 

Q4. Which of the following practices is not carried out in dairy farms to enhance milk production?

A. Cattles are kept in accommodations having adequate ventilations, sufficient light and water along with a good drainage system
B. Cattles are given balanced feed containing roughage and concentrate
C. Water is sprinkled in the shed to reduce mental stress
D. Feeding is carried out in scientific manner


Dairy farm management is the management of animals for milk and its products for human consumption. Proper dairy farm management include the following: 

  • Selection of good breeds - Selecting breeds with high yield and disease resistance is a must for dairy farms. They help to increase the production under the climatic conditions of the area and are not easily prone to diseases. 
  • Proper care - Cattle need to be kept in accommodations having adequate ventilations, sufficient light and water along with a good drainage system. Cattle are susceptible to many diseases. Maintaining a proper temperature inside the shelter helps in increasing productivity.
  • Summer management - Adequate amounts of fresh and clean drinking water should be provided. Sprinkling of water in the shed reduces heat stress.
  • Winter management - Cattles need to be kept under cover especially at night in winter.
  • Feeding - It should be carried out in a scientific manner. Balanced cattle feed should contain roughage and concentrate. Roughage is the coarse, fibrous substance having low nutrient content. Examples include green fodder and hay. Concentrate is low in fibres but contains relatively high proteins and other nutrients. Examples include cereals, millets and oil seeds. A balanced diet increases productivity. It increases milk and meat production. 
  • Cleanliness and hygiene - Milking areas should be free from accumulation of dirt and garbage. The teats and udder of the cattle should be cleaned. Persons concerned with milking and handling of milk must be in good health. 
  • Regular inspections - Regular inspections and proper record keeping is necessary. Regular visit of a veterinary doctor is recommended.

Q5. Jersey is a ________ breed.

Answer: Breed refers to a set of animals which closely resemble each other in certain marked features by descent. Indigenous breeds or desi breeds are native to India. Jersey is a high milk yielding exotic breed. It originated outside India and imported to India, hence called as exotic milch breed.

Q6. ___________ refers to a set of animals which closely resemble each other in certain marked features by descent.

Answer: Certain individuals from a species which closely resemble each other in certain marked features from the descent (origin) after several generations of selective mating constitute a breed.

Examples include Jersey cows. Several breeds can be identified in a particular species.


Q1. What are the major five stages of a dairy cow?
Answer: Pre-calving, post-calving (1 – 30 days), early lactation period (31 – 130 days), mid lactation period (days 131 – 230), late lactation period and dry cow are the major stages of a dairy cow. 

Q2. What is called the cycle of milk?
Answer: The lactation cycle or milk cycle is the period between one calving and the next. This cycle is split into four phases such as the early lactation period, mid lactation period, late lactation (each one is about 120 days) and the dry period (Last for around 65 days).

Q3. What are the names used to commonly call goats?
Answer: Male goats are commonly called billys or bucks. They usually have a beard. Female goats are called nannies. The immature goats are called kids.

Q4. What are the different types of meat?
Answer: Meat includes red meat and white meat. The meat from beef, pork, goat, and lamb are considered as red meat. The meat from poultry is commonly called as white meat. Poultry includes chicken, turkey etc. 

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