Hand milking a lactating buffalo in India

Buffalo farming is a profitable business & has good potential for employment generation in India. World milk production has doubled in the last few decades. The last few years have also witnessed a consistent increase in the organized production of milk and meat from buffalo. Buffalo milk, its dairy derivatives, and buffalo meat, are cherished and relished by young and old alike. Buffalo farming is now an almost worldwide phenomenon.

India has 57% of world buffalo population. Buffalo milk contributes 57% of total milk production. Buffaloes have several advantages over crossbred cows as farm animal. Buffaloes have been playing a key role since time immemorial in our country's economy. The buffaloes are known to be highly valuable for the purposes of milk, meat and work efficiency. Hence, the buffaloes are useful to the people by providing milk, horns and hooves, meat, dung and also for the purpose of ploughing. In India, a greater part of milk production comes from buffaloes. Buffalo milk is better in quality as compared to any other domestic animal. Buffalo rearing is considered to be cheap and economically profitable.

India is one of the few countries in the world where buffaloes are found in domesticated form in large numbers. Buffaloes are valuable for the triple purpose of milk, work, and meat. In India, the bulk of milk produced comes from the buffaloes. As a work animal, it is next only to the bullock. The meat potential of the buffalo is unexploited as yet. Buffaloes need more feed than cows because their body weight is more and their milk is also thicker and richer in milk fat and total solids. Buffaloes are of a hardy nature and can live on cheap coarse feed. Buffalo rearing is cheap and economically profitable as compared to other domestic animals.

The domestic buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) belongs to the genus Bubalus, sub family Bovidae, is descended from wild Indian buffalo and is widely dispersed throughout the southern Asia. The domesticated buffaloes may be classified into two main categories, viz. (1) the swamp buffalo and (2) the river buffalo. They belong to the same species, Bubalus bubalis but have very different habits.

In India there are few well defined breeds with standard qualities and with specific physical characteristics. Out of all, six breeds viz. Murrah, Nili-Ravi, Jaffarbadi, Bhadawari, Surti and Mehesana are of high quality milch breeds of the country and they all come from northern and western parts comprising Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat states. The breeds of central and western parts are noted as draught purpose breeds due to the fact that they have swamp as well as river characteristics. In India the breeding season of buffaloes commences from September and continues up to February, and the calving season from July to December. During this breeding period, the bulls have been found to be sexually very active and the quality and quantity of semen are very high particularly during winter (November to February). The she buffaloes show the maximum of ovarian activity and the largest percentage of item conceive during this period.

Buffaloes, unlike cattle, can tolerate a variety of coarse feeds I and fodders and they consume more dry matter also. A balanced ration consists of fibrous filling, concentrate mixture which is nutritive, and accessory food factors which help digestion, accelerate assimilation and maintain normal health.

Source: www.inseda.org

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