Sinu George, dairy farmer at Thirumarady near Piravom in Ernakulam district, is attracting attention with several intelligent innovations she introduced on her dairy farm which resulted in significant rise in milk production and profits.
One device Sinu set up creates an artificial rain that keeps the cowshed cool even during a hot noon in summer. The 'rainwater' drenches the asbestos roof of the shed and the cows enjoy the sight of water flowing down the edges of the asbestos sheets. Sinu has found that this has not just helped prevent the fall in milk production seen during the hot season but a rise in milk yield also. The 'rain machine' is, in fact, a cheap arrangement. It is a PVC pipe with holes fixed on the roof.
Sinu's Pengad Dairy Farm boasts of 60 cows, including 35 milking cows. Thirty minutes before milking time at noon every day, they shower water on the cowshed. This cools the asbestos sheets as well as the interiors of the shed. The cows get a big relief from the summer heat, which is stressful for them. They become calm and quiet. Milking becomes easier and the yield is higher in such conditions, says Sinu.
"The intervals between the showers are decided based on the intensity of the heat. The only expense involved is that for the electricity to pump water from the pond," adds the intrepid entrepreneur.
According to Sinu, she got the idea to create the rain from a veterinarian who visited her dairy farm. Apart from an increase in milk yield, the artificial rain has helped Sinu avoid fogging in her farm. "The rain is healthier for the cows than fogging. The fogging machine, which is kept under the roof, sustains the humidity in the shed. Such wet conditions, especially on the floor, are bad for the health of foreign breeds like HF, leading to diseases in the hoof and other parts. The rain outside the shed creates no such issues. Moreover, with 60 cows, installing foggers involves a big amount of money. I could save it," says Sinu.
Sinu's cows give a good yield during summer, too, as they are given the leaf of the pineapple plant as food. "Cattle feed has to remove hunger, along with being nutritious. If the feed contains enough water to resist the summer heat, that would be ideal. However, giving such feed should be profitable to the farmer, too. The leaves and stem of pineapple meet all these requirements," says Sinu.
She gets the pineapple leaves free of cost from pineapple farms, which remove all plants after harvest every three years. Pineapple leaves also reduce the summer stress felt by cows.
Sinu gets the leaves chopped in a chaff cutter before feeding the cows. The cows love the taste and there is plenty of feed available, she says.
Benefits of good care
The daily milk production of Sinu's Pengad dairy farm is 500 litres. The morning yield is sold on retail basis at Rs 60 per litre in Kochi city. The dairy has outlets at Palluruthy and Marad for the purpose. There is high demand for the 'Farm fresh' milk, reveals Sinu.
The milk the cows give in the afternoon goes to the Thirumarady milk society, which has Sinu as its president. Along with milk, Sinu's dairy farm markets curd and butter milk too.
A successful dairy farmer, Sinu is in a position to offer advice to prospective entrepreneurs in the sector. "Three factors have to be kept in mind. One is to find ways to reduce expenses without compromising on the health of the cows. The second is that high-yielding cows cost a big amount of money. Moreover, much care has to be taken to ensure that they don't get infected with diseases. Beginners have to initially buy low-yielding cow at moderate cost and gain experience. The third is that managing a commercial farm is much different from keeping two or three cows at home. A farm can be profitable only if creates a retail market of its own. Measures have to be taken to ensure that the production never falls,"she says.
Cow dung machine
Another innovation in the farm is a machine that dries and powders cow dung. "It is rare sight in the dairy farms in south India. However, it was a costly affair. I spent Rs 10 lakh on it," says Sinu.
The equipment is installed adjacent to the cow dung pit and a PVC pipe sucks the dung, while the machine removes the moisture and creates powdered cow dung. The powder in filled in sacks and sold. "The machine helps avoid the laborious process of removing the cow dung from the pit, drying it under the sun and collecting it," informs the dairy owner.
Sinu lives next to the farm itself and says that this machine ensures that there is no bad smell of cow dung in the surroundings. "The machine helps caring for as many cows as we wish in a limited space without causing pollution," she informs.
The cow dung used to be bought by rubber farmers. However, with the price of rubber falling, the demand for raw cow dung fell. Meanwhile, kitchen gardens became common and there are many takers for dried and powdered dung now. "The machine is operated for four to five hours a week and all the dung in the pit can be turned into powder. Though the dung is sold in sacks, it will be available in 5 and 10 kg packs soon," says Sinu.
Sinu can be reached on 7907044146.