Milk will flow again on the Kuriyottumala farm near Punalur, a prestigious buffalo-breeding centre of the State government in the past.
But in its new avatar as a high-tech farm, expect to hear only moos from the pastures. Only cows will be bred in the farm this time, to supply high-yielding calves to dairy farmers across the State. The larger aim is to help the State achieve its cherished goal of self-sufficiency in milk, district panchayat president S. Jayamohan says.
Registration for calves has already begun. The 37-hectare farm is under the joint management of the panchayat and the Animal Husbandry Department.
P.S. Sreekumar, farm superintendent, says Rs. 20 crore has been earmarked for the farm expansion scheme and Rs. 7 crore of that amount has been allocated. The remaining Rs. 13 crore is expected during this financial year. The Kerala State Housing Board will complete the work on the farm by 2014-end.
To begin with, 300 pregnant heifers will be bought from within the country, and the process has begun.
Dr. Sreekumar says the second-generation cows on the farm will be high-tech-adapted.
One of the highlights of the project will be the introduction of the milk produced on the farm into the market under the brand name “Kuriyottumala Farm Fresh Milk.” The milk will be sold in pouches, and a packing unit will be set up at a cost of Rs. 6 lakh. At least two outlets for selling this brand have been planned, Dr. Sreekumar says.
Much attention will be paid to the design and establishment of the production environment adapted to the needs of cows to increase milk production. Feeding will go high-tech. Each cow will be fed by its lactation cycle. The cows wear special collars that work with a computerised system to deliver the right diet to the right animal. The milking parlour will be mechanised.
Keeping cows company will be goats, also in a high-tech farm. Eighty-seven goats have been bought, and the number will be raised to 250.
Mr. Jayamohan says the goat breeds to be popularised through the farm are Malabari, beetle, Jamnapari and Sirohi. Already the farm sells Malabari kids at Rs. 1,000 each, and the demand is heavy, he says.
Cuniculture (rabbit farming) is another major activity on the farm. The farm has a big collection of exotic rabbits mainly to be sold to farmers for meat production. Only leverets are sold, a pair going for Rs. 250. Because of the heavy demand, the sale is strictly on registration. The order book is being filled fast. The breeds available are Soviet chinchilla, great giant and white giant.
The farm has taken up the district panchayat’s quail scheme for Kudumbasree units, functioning as a rearing agency and supplying chicks when they are 21 days old. Already 44,000 chicks have been supplied to various Kudumbasree units in the district, Mr. Jayamohan says.
A biogas unit for generating electricity on the farm is in the pipeline. It will be a Rs. 45-lakh project to power a 15-hp generator.
The gas will be generated from the slurry produced by the farm.
Dr. Sreekumar says a farm tourism project has been envisaged. Tourists can stay overnight in a three-bedroom structure to be constructed.