The first hi-tech livestock farm in the public sector is scheduled to commence operation at Kulathupuzha in Kollam district by October this year. Work on the Rs.600-lakh project is in the final stage.

The farm, equipped with open nucleus breeding technology, will have 300 high yielding cows of the Holstein Freisen, Jersey and Sunandini breeds. The Kulathupuzha unit will be the first in a chain of hi-tech dairy farms being set up in the State under the Kerala Livestock Development Board. The other two farms are slated to come up at Mattupetty and Kolahalamedu in Idukki.

The farms will be equipped with the latest technologies in feeding, milking, shed management and recording practices. They will have state-of- the-art facilities like computerised feeding station, automatic milking parlour, computerised milk recording programme and dung scraper.

As many as 200 satellite farms with two to five cows each are also being set up around the three farms. The project, funded by the National Project for Cattle and Buffalo Breeding (NPCBB), is aimed at enhancing milk production and producing a new generation of quality livestock.

Each cow will have a transponder equipped with a micro-chip carrying information about the animal such as pedigree, milk yield and feeding pattern. Feeding will be through programmable feeders. When the animal enters the feeding parlour, the radio signals from the transponder will activate the feeding mechanism and the quantity of feed recommended for the animal as per its age and growth, and milk production will be automatically delivered to the parlour and monitored.

The cows will be milked using automatic machines in separate parlours and milk collection from each animal will be recorded in the computer. The data will enable the milk to be traced back to source.

Automatic scrapers and water jets will keep the cow sheds clean. The animals will be checked with heat detectors and artificially inseminated on time. The data on health care and reproductive performance will be regularly updated for better management.

While female calves produced in the farm will be distributed to dairy farmers, the bull calves will be used for production of breeding bulls. The farms at Kulathupuzha and Mattupetty will each have a capacity to produce 1.2 lakh litres of milk a month, while the one at Kolahalamedu will yield 1.8 lakh litres.

KLDB managing director Ani S. Das said the milk produced at the farms would be marketed as a traceable product. ?Over time, the three dairy farms, together with their satellite units, are expected to evolve into three self-sustaining model townships and gain a name for themselves as suppliers of quality milk to the whole State. The model can be replicated in other districts to pave the way for a second White Revolution in Kerala.?

The proposed model hi-tech bull mother dairy farm at Kolahalamedu will also have research programmes on embryo transfer technology and progeny testing for production of bull semen for the domestic and export markets.

Minister for Animal Husbandry C. Divakaran is scheduled to lay the foundation stone for the hi-tech dairy farm at Kolahalamedu on Saturday. The foundation stone for the K.R. Narayanan College of Dairy Science and Technology will be laid by Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran.

Union Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas will formally launch the project to establish the two hi-tech farms at Kolahalamedu and Mattupetty and P.T. Thomas, MP, will inaugurate a Rs.90-lakh fodder cultivation scheme to be taken up on 125 hectares under the Kolahalamedu farm.

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