Among uproar about cows these days, no one is lending a ear to the opinion of the dairy farmers (or farmers in general) who buy cows, raise them, and consider them as their biggest assets. HF COWS FOR DAIRY Farmers who exclusively raise cattle for dairy generally keep HF/Jersey/Crossbred Cattle. They have to take some hard decisions for their imported/crossbred cattle to survive in his business. Several times, these decisions point to selling the exotic/cross-bred cattle – which if restricted means sustained losses for dairy farmers with no government aid or support. 1. What to do with male HF calves? Male calves from the dairy industry across the globe are killed as they are a liability to the farmer from day one. Unlike the desi male calves which are used by agriculturists in plowing in the field, the HF/Jersey male calves cannot be used on the farm. Cow activists worried about cows suffering, should think about reducing their milk consumption and promoting veganism. Milk is just another side of the coin for beef, as more number of calves will be killed if demand of milk is higher.
2. What to do with diseased HF cows? Dairy cows from temperate zones are disease prone and are needed regular medical assistance. Unlike the desi cows, exotic cows cannot do without anti-biotics. They are prone to udder diseases like mastitis whose treatment can be an expensive affair. Many dairy farmers loose their entire asset base of cattle with diseases like foot and mouth. Diseased and unproductive HF cows end up for slaughter because dairy farmers cannot afford to feed cows that do not give milk. Maintaining HF cows is unviable as they have no utility for dung and urine in farming.
3. Increasing fodder costs, shrinking margins hit dairy farmers profitability. Fodder costs are rising every year due to water scarcity. Desi cow milk is gaining popularity and people are willing to pay even 4 times the price for it. However, the dairy farmers who have HF/Jersey cows milk is sold at fixed low prices though co-operative collection centers. Dairy industry is becoming unsustainable for many farmers due to higher input costs and government caps on milk prices. In all of the above cases, a farmer has no choice but to sell his exotic cows. Government should allow sale of exotic cattle in open markets legally to aid them to survive. DESI COWS INTEGRATED WITH AGRICULTURE The indigenous cattle – desi cows – belong mostly to non-dairy farmers who keep them for their own family and/or to use them for their own farms. Desi cows are adapted, not disease-prone and cost much less to feed. Desi Cows help farmers convert from chemical farming to natural farming by improving soil fertility while providing limited but steady quantity of milk to farmer’s family for more than 15 years in its lifetime.
Farmers associated with zero-budget natural farming need desi cow dung and urine for farming have no issue in rearing them even without milk. Many native cows which are locally adapted to geographical terrain are getting endangered. A concerned government has launched a number of programs for conservation of these primitive Indian cows but with lack of training on natural farming, the programs are only a drain on the exchequer as it generates limited interest from farmers.