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Books Online Managing High Grade Dairy Cows in the Tropics





Foreword
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About the author
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Other books and technical manuals by the author
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Acknowledgements
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Acknowledgement of The Crawford Fund
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Chemical warning
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Contents
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Introduction
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This chapter presents an outline of the manual, which highlights the basic components of successful small holder dairy farming in tropical climates.
The main points in this chapter
•This is the third book I have written on tropical dairy farming, with the previous two concentrating on feeding management and on-farm business management of small holder farms.
•This book deals specifically with overcoming the many problems of poor adaptation of exotic high grade dairy stock to the stresses of tropical climates and small holder herd management.
•Small holder dairy farmers (with herds up to 20 milking cows plus replacement heifers) are generally competitive and sustainable.
•Dairy development is associated with technical changes to improve milk yield per cow.
•Most countries have development programs involving importing high genetic merit dairy stock, usually Friesians.
•Dairy production technology can be broken down to nine links in a supply chain on any dairy farm, no matter its size or location.

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pp. 1-10
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Pre-departure planning and management of stock on arrival
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This chapter covers planning the consignment of imported dairy stock.
The main points in this chapter
•What the customer wants is not always what the customer needs. Furthermore, what the customer needs may even differ from what the customer eventually gets.
•The process of importing stock can be best described through the eight steps of the livestock export chain.
•The exporting agent, the Australian Government, and importing governments all have obligations to ensure the live export process is correctly undertaken.
•There are a series of criteria for rejecting dairy stock for live export and these are summarised in this chapter.
•Transportation introduces many stresses to the stock, requiring a period of recuperation that coincides with any post-arrival veterinary healthy checks.
•Immediate post-arrival management can have long-term effects on the survivability, wellbeing, and hence the subsequent performance of these dairy stock.

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pp. 11-20
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Soil and forage management on the new home farm
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This chapter discusses the key principles to good forage agronomy.
The main points in this chapter
•The basis of economic dairy farming is producing and using quality forage.
•The four basic principles of producing quality forage are:
1. Selecting the most appropriate forage species for the region.
2. Preparing the forage production area for sowing.
3. Managing the agronomy of the crop.
4. Harvesting the crop at the best stage of maturity for maximum nutritive value.
•The key to good forage agronomy is providing sufficient soil nutrients to overcome nutrient constraints to plant growth.
•Forage crops should be harvested to optimise the supply of the key nutrients for milk production, namely energy and protein.
•There are 10 key steps that should be followed to make quality silage. There are no short cuts!
•Silage also allows the long-term storage of a variety of wet agro-industrial by-products.

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pp. 21-36
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Young stock management
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This chapter explains the nutritional needs of heifers in their two phases of development – milk-fed calf and weaned heifer.
The main points in this chapter
•A system of heifer rearing should produce healthy animals that are able to grow to target live weight with minimum input costs.
•It is essential that calves consume at least 4 L of high-quality colostrum in their first 6 hr of life. Calves must be hand-fed colostrum if they cannot suckle.
•Calves should be fed to promote rumen development using high-quality concentrates plus limited roughages.
•Calves can be weaned by 6 weeks of age if they are eating 0.75 kg concentrates/day.
•Calf scours is usually caused by poor feeding management and the first level of treatment should be feeding electrolyte solutions. Antibiotics should not be given until a specific bacterial agent has been identified as a major cause.
•Young calves cannot eat enough forage to sustain good growth rates. Forages alone are not suitable for milk-fed calves or for weaned calves until they reach 200 kg live weight.
•Good heifer growth rates are important for milk production and fertility and to minimise calving difficulties. Growth rate in Friesians after weaning should average 0.6–0.7 kg/day.
•Growth should be monitored regularly (preferably by weighing) to ensure that targets are being met.
•Forages should be high quality (11 MJ/kg DM of metabolisable

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pp. 37-50
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The principles of dairy nutrition
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This chapter explains the key principles of dairy nutrition to better understand the practices of feeding management.
The main points in this chapter
•Feeds contain the nutrients for animal survival and production: the most important ones being water, energy, protein and fibre.
•There are several ways to describe the energy concentration of feeds, with metabolisable energy being the preferred method.
•Feed protein and fibre can also be described in various ways.
•Feeds can be categorised into various types depending on their nutrient composition.
One good classification system is based on their energy and protein contents.
•It is possible to calculate the nutrient requirements of milking cows to produce target levels of milk.
•Understanding the lactation cycle, from one calving to the next, is important when planning and managing the herd’s annual feeding program.

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pp. 51-62
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Feeding management of the milking herd
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This chapter summarises the key feeding practices for SHD farmers and some adverse effects of poor feeding management.
The main points in this chapter
•There are many influences on milk responses to feeding supplements.
•Cows produce less and less extra milk for each extra level of supplement fed and this is called the decreasing marginal milk response.
•Some of supplement goes immediately into milk and some goes to body fat, which produces more milk later on.
•The Asian ‘rule of thumb’ to feed 1 kg concentrate per 2 kg milk produced provides a safety margin to feeding management, but can increase overall feed costs.
•There are several key metabolic diseases brought about through poor feeding management, the most important being lactic acidosis or grain poisoning.
•There are many simple observations to highlight these metabolic diseases.
•Farms should not be overstocked beyond their capacity to provide sufficient homegrown quality forages.

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pp. 63-74
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Disease prevention and control
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This chapter discusses the most important diseases encountered by SHD farmers in the tropics, their treatment and some of the prevention measures.
The main points in this chapter
•Farmers can develop observation skills to assess the general health status of their herd and individual cows.
•There is a wide diversity of disease agents, ranging from parasites to microbial agents to unbalanced nutrition.
•Every farmer should develop a herd health plan that includes a good recording system and plans for introducing new stock onto the farm.
•Poor animal health can have adverse effects on reproductive performance.
•Cow lameness is a common problem on small holder farms where cows are continually tethered.
•Mastitis has many hidden effects on cow performance and farm profits as sub-clinical infections cannot be readily identified and treated.

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pp. 75-94
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Reproductive management
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This chapter explains the impact of both nutritional and non-nutritional factors on the reproductive performance of the dairy herd.
The main points in this chapter
•Understanding the fertility timetable for the milking cow assists with managing reproductive procedures.
•100 day-in-calf rate and 200 day-not-in-calf rate are two good measures of reproductive performance. Submission rate and conception rate are the other two important measures.
•Nutrition is just one of many factors affecting reproduction. These factors can be categorised into their degree of difficulty for the farmer to influence.
•The key nutrition factors are feed intake, body condition and heifer live weight.
•Heat detection, length of the voluntary waiting period and artificial insemination practices are three other factors.
•Farmers must set priorities to tackle fertility issues, dealing with the most important first. It is possible for a healthy, high-yielding cow to require up to eight inseminations to conceive.
•The simplistic answer for any problem cow is ‘not enough insemination’, but when is enough enough?

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pp. 95-108
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Genetics
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This chapter discusses the role of genetics on small holder farm performance and profits.
The main points in this chapter
•The continued emphasis on temperate dairy genotypes, which are essentially exotic to tropical small holder farms, has had little impact on cow performance or farm profitability over the last few decades.
•The concept of genotype by environment interaction is introduced to explain the need to modify the farm environment to get the most benefit out of improved dairy genotypes.
•Several tropical dairy breeds have been developed, such as the Australian Milking Zebu and the Australian Friesian Sahiwal.
•The availability of artificial insemination has the greatest effect on the farmer’s ability to initiate a breeding program.
•In Sri Lanka, despite the extensive use of AI, over 65% of the progeny are born from local bulls. This is attributed to the poor infrastructure of AI services as well as the lack of farmer confidence that AI will result in a pregnancy.

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pp. 109-114
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Managing stock surplus to the milking herd
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This chapter discusses the classes of stock on the dairy farm that are sold to generate income.
The main points in this chapter
•Milking cows can be culled because of poor performance, chronic animal health problems, such as mastitis, or acute injuries, such as broken limbs.
•Bull calves are frequently sold as week-old animals.
•Dairy beef from bulls or steers, particularly purebred or crossbred Friesians, can be quite profitable.
•Their feeding management is similar to that of dairy heifer replacements, which was discussed in Chapter 4.

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pp. 115-122
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Stock welfare
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This chapter discusses the key elements of animal welfare for SHD farmers.
The main points in this chapter
•There are five basic freedoms for livestock: freedom from hunger and thirst, from discomfort, from pain, to express normal behaviour, and from fear and distress.
•It is important that facilities and equipment are well designed and maintained.
•Stock should always be provided with adequate feed and water.
•Herd management practices should always minimise stress, injury and disease.
•If necessary, stock should always be humanely euthanased.
•Staff should be adequately trained or experienced in good animal care.
•Special attention should be given to stock selected for sale and transport.
•Calves are very susceptible to stress, injury and disease, so management practices should be undertaken with this in mind.

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pp. 123-130
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Environmental management
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This chapter discusses the principles and practices to minimise the adverse effects of heat stress on the performance of dairy stock.
The main points in this chapter
•The comfort zone of milking Friesians is 6–18°C. Outside this range, stock must modify their behaviour, their thermoregulatory processes or reduce milk production and fertility.
•The severity of heat stress depends on many factors such as diurnal temperature, housing conditions, breed and level of milk production.
•The Temperature Humidity Index is a quantitative comfort index that relates closely to cow performance.
•Respiration rate is a simple measure of heat stress that farmers can easily use to modify management if necessary. This has been developed further into a panting score.
•Cooling measures for milking cows include designing sheds for maximum ventilation, sprinklers, fans, allowing cows outside during the evening and modifying feeding management.

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pp. 131-142
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Housing systems
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This chapter describes the key features of well-designed dairy sheds.
The main points in this chapter
•Sheds should be located to maximise natural ventilation.
•Cement floors should be sloped for manure management and be non-slip for cows’ comfort.
•There should be sufficient watering points or troughs for all stock.
•Cows can be maintained in tie stalls or be loose housed. They can be provided with free stalls or have an open lounging area.
•Additional health facilities should include treatment areas for sick stock and a calving area to permit close attention.
•Young stock should be housed according to age.
•Access to an outdoor area provides for more effective night-time cooling.
•A separate milking parlour will aid in milking hygiene.
•Good sanitation is very important for both cow cleanliness and effluent disposal.
Recycling effluent will reduce necessary fertiliser inputs to forage production areas.

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pp. 143-160
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Milk harvesting and hygiene
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This chapter discusses the key principles of good milk-harvesting practices to ensure high milk quality.
The main points in this chapter
•Milk composition and milk quality are often incorrectly used to mean the same thing; however, composition is the content of milk components while milk quality is a measure of the various contaminants in the raw milk.
•The various measures of milk composition and milk quality are described.
•The basics of good cleaning of milking equipment can be summarised as WATCH, namely: water, action, time, chemicals and heat.
•Good milk hygiene practices make it possible to produce clean, safe milk and dairy products with less than the ideal equipment and facilities that are generally found on small holder farms in tropical environments.
•Hygiene can be split into various milk-harvesting practices, such as health and personal hygiene, environmental hygiene, milking procedures and milk handling, and finally post-milking procedures.
•When using machines for milk harvesting, a good testing and maintenance program is essential to ensure quality milk and minimal udder diseases.

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pp. 161-174
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Adding value to milk
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This chapter briefly discusses the range of dairy products that can be made from raw milk.
The main points in this chapter
•Heat-treated liquid drinking milk is a common form of adding value to raw milk.
•Separating the milk fat from other milk solids produces butter and ghee, and also skim milk.
•Fermenting milk produces yoghurt and cheese.
•The by-products skim milk and whey can produce ice cream, cheese and whey-based drinks.
•A case study is presented of cheese making from a dairy cooperative in East Java.

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pp. 175-180
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The business of small holder dairy farming
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This chapter discusses the key aspects of good farm business management for the SHD farmer.
The main points in this chapter
•Production technology is just one of the skills of good dairy farm business managers.
Other skills include monitoring farm production costs, obtaining any necessary credit and finances, marketing the end product, managing labour and gathering information relevant to milk production.
•There are many providers of services for SHD farmers from whom to seek information, much of which is free.
•Such service providers should allow the farmer to outsource as much of his farm inputs as possible, as long as it is viable in an economic sense. The farmer can then concentrate his efforts on what he probably does best, namely convert feed (forages, and concentrates) into milk.
•Input costs in SHD farms can be broken down into four categories: two variable (herd and shed, and feed costs) and two overhead (cash and imputed or hidden costs). Imputed costs are sometimes called ‘hidden’ costs, which include unpaid family labour and depreciation on farm assets.

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pp. 181-192
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Conducting farmer workshops on improved herd management
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This chapter presents a framework for workshops on improved herd management on small holder farms.
The main points in this chapter
•The target audiences for these workshops can be advisers or farmers, or preferably a combination of the two.
•The objectives of such a workshop should be clearly defined.
•The technical topics have been selected as the key learning outcomes from this manual.
•With farmers, the emphasis should be on visual images followed by practical examples of poor versus good farm practices.
•Farms to visit should be chosen with a specific purpose, such as to demonstrate a particular farming practice or set of practices.

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pp. 193-198
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Assessing current farm management practices
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This chapter presents a framework for assessing current farm management practices.
The main points in this chapter
•There are a series of key performance indicators that provide realistic targets of farm performance following improvements in feeding, herd and farm management.
•The average milk production of all the lactating cows can provide a useful guide as to the adequacy of the current dairy farm management practices.
•This chapter presents six key task areas with which to assess current farming skills: feed production, feeding management, herd management, housing, milking management and general farm management.
•These could provide a framework for grading the suitability of farmers to receive imported high-quality dairy stock.

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pp. 199-206
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Tips and traps in managing high grade dairy stock
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This chapter presents a series of photographs depicting good and poor management practices on tropical SHD farms
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pp. 207-245
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Appendices
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pp. 246-257
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Glossary
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pp. 258-260
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References and further reading
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pp. 261-264
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Index
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pp. 265-265
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