Rearing of Cow


Selection of heifers Heifers (young female above one year not yet calved) should be selected on the basis of the potential of the sire (father) and milk production of the dam(mother). The heifers should have proper growth, good health and be free from genetic abnormalities. Heifers, which have conceived within 24 months of age alone, may be retained.
Selection of cows Most important economic trait to be looked into, while selecting a cow is milk production. For economic milk production a cow producing not less than 2500 kg milk in 305 days lactation period is desirable. Age at first calving should be less than 3 years. The interval between two successive calvings should be 12 to 15 months. The cow should not have any physical deformity and should possess dairy conformation like well developed udder, prominent milk vein, squarely placed teats, ease in milking and good temperament. Old and unproductive cows are to be replaced by young cows. Old and unproductive cows are to be replaced by young cows. Normally 20% of the stock has to be replaced each year.
Tips for feeding
  • Concentrate must be fed individually according to production requirements.
  • Good quality roughage saves concentrates. Approximately 20 kg of grasses (guinea, napier, etc.) or 6-8 kg legume fodder (cowpea, lucerne) can replace 1 kg of concentrate mixture (0.14-0.16 kg of DCP) in terms of protein content.
  • 1 kg straw can replace 4-5 kg of grass on dry matter basis.In this case the deficiency of protein and other nutrients should be compensated by a suitable concentrate mixture.
  • Regularity in feeding should be followed. Concentrate mixture can be fed at or preferably before milking half in the morning and the other half in the evening before the two milkings. Half the roughage ration can be fed in the forenoon after watering and cleaning the animals. The other half is fed in the evening, after milking and watering. High yielding animals may be fed three times a day (both roughage and concentrate). Increasing the frequency of concentrate feeding will help maintain normal rumen motility and optimum milk fat levels.
  • Over-feeding concentrates may result in off feed and indigestion.
  • Abrupt change in the feed should be avoided.
  • Grains should be ground to medium degree of fineness before being fed to cattle.
  • Long and thick-stemmed fodders such as Napier may be chopped and fed.
  • Highly moist and tender grasses may be wilted or mixed with straw before feeding. Legume fodders may be mixed with straw or other grasses to prevent the occurrence of bloat and indigestion.
  • Silage and other feeds, which may impart flavour to milk, may be fed after milking.
  • Concentrate mixture in the form of mash may be moistened with water and fed immediately. Pellets can be fed as such.
  • All feeds must be stored properly in well-ventilated and dry places. Mouldy or otherwise damaged feed should not be fed.
  • For high yielding animals, the optimum concentrate roughage ratio on dry matter basis should be 60:40.

Milk out the udder regularly from the day of calving. Milk can be used for usual human consumption from the 3rd or 4th day onwards. Animals producing more than 12 kg of milk per day can be milked 3 times a day. Keep the intervals between milking almost equal (> 6-8 hours).

Take care to have clean practices during milking. Wash the udder properly and mop it with a clean towel. In organised farms machine milking can be used. Use only properly cleaned utensils for milking and storage of milk. Keep the surroundings clean and free from dust. Take care that dung and urine do not splash into the milking pail. Milking process should be completed as fast as possible because the effect of letting down remains for about 5-6 minutes only. The udder should be completely milked out at each milking.

Source of contamination of milk and control measures

Source of contamination Control measures
Exterior of udder Wash and wipe udder.
Clip the hair around udder and flank
Interior of udder Check for mastitis using strip cup
Discard foremilk
Air and dust in cattle shed Avoid dusty environment at milking time
Use small top milk pail
Keep milk covered
Flies and other insects Eliminate breeding places
Control flies and insects with insecticidal sprays, repellents.
Milker Practice clean habits,
do not use lubricants on the teat.
Utensils Clean, sanitise and dry before use.
Disease management
  • Be on the alert for signs of illness such as reduced feed intake, fever, abnormal discharge or unusual behaviour.

  • Consult the nearest veterinary aid centre for help if illness is suspected.  

  • Protect the animals against common diseases.

  • In case of outbreak of contagious disease, immediately segregate the sick, in contact and the healthy animals and take necessary disease control measures.

  • Conduct periodic tests for Brucellosis, Tuberculosis, Johne's disease, Mastitis etc.

  • Deworm the animals regularly.

  • Examine the faeces of adult animals to detect eggs of internal parasites and treat the animals with suitable drugs.

  • Wash the animals from time to time to promote sanitation.

Programme for vaccination
Name of disease Type of vaccine Type of vaccination Duration of immunity
Anthrax (Gorhi) Spore vaccine Once in an year premonsoon vaccination One season
Black Quarter (Sujab) Killed vaccine
- do -
- do -
Haemorrhagic Septicaemia (Galghotu) Ocladjuvant vaccine
- do -
- do -
Brucellosis (Contagious abortion) Cotton strain 19 (live bacteria) At about 6 months of age 3 or 4 calvings To be done only in infected herds
Foot and Mouth disease (Muhkhar) Polyvalent tissue culture vaccine At about 6 months of age with booster dose 4 months later One season       After vaccination repeat vaccination every year in Oct./Nov.
Rinderpest (Mata) Lapinised avianised vaccine for exotic and crossbred cattle, caprinised vaccine for zebu cattle. At about 6 months of age Life long       It is better to repeat after 3 to 4 years
References Kerala Agricultural University. 2001. Package of Practices- Recommendations: Veterinary and Animal Husbandry, Kerala Agricultural University, Trichur. .