With good management the milk yield can go up to ten litres a day
Buffalo husbandry is an important source of income and employment for a large number of the farmers. It is the main plank for the development of dairy industry in India, contributing a major share of total milk production.
Buffaloes occupy a prime place in the dairy economy of our country because they can adapt themselves to harsh climatic conditions, require minimal care, are generally tolerant to infections and can survive on low or poor feeding practices.
The dairy sector in the country is largely dependant on buffalo milk because of its rich fat content. Dairy farmers have always shown a preference for rearing buffaloes than cows.
Even in a herd of 10-15 cows three or four buffaloes will be usually reared as female buffaloes yield milk with a higher fat content than cows. Milk with a good fat content fetches a better price for the farmer.
Though there are several buffalo breeds, which are reared for milk and meat, Mehsana buffaloes are mainly reared for their milk.
Their milk has a fat content of about 6.5 to 7 per cent and they can yield 7-9 litres of milk in a day.
With good management practices the milk yield can go up to even 10-15 litres according to researchers at the Livestock Research Station (LRS), S. D. Agricultural University, Sardarkrushinagar, Gujarat.
The breed is mainly distributed in Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and Patan districts of North Gujarat.
The animals are usually black or fawn grey in colour, some times with white markings on the face, legs and tip of the tail.
The horns are short and curved. The breed is reputed for regularity in breeding and persistent milk production. Adult male buffaloes weigh 530-600 kg and females 425-475 kg.
Unlike other breeds, Mehsana buffaloes require minimal care and attention. They can be reared in well-ventilated sheds as well as under tree shade in the open.
The animals can be fed green grass when available, and also with dry fodder such as wheat straw bajra, jowar and cotton seed cake.
Female buffaloes come to heat in 20-21 days. The gestation period lasts for about 310 days.
Though the breed is resistant to major infections that afflict cattle, farmers are advised to regularly deworm and vaccinate the animals against foot and mouth disease and Haemorrhagic septicemia, which is a common infection among dairy animals according to reseachers.
Heat detection in buffaloes is done by parading vasectomised bulls twice daily among the herd.
Buffaloes in oestrus (sexual impulse) are artificially inseminated.
Heat detection should be done on the 60th day from the date of last calving, and after 20 months of age.
The age at first calving is 41 to 45 months, which can be reduced to 34-35 months under intensive care.
Depending upon milk yield, the price of the animal ranges from Rs.30,000 - Rs. 40,000.
For details, readers can contact the Livestock Research Station (LRS), Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University, Sardarkrushi Nagar-385506, Gujarat, India, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 02748-278463.