Low milk production can challenge dairy farmers anywhere in the world, especially in Africa, where the heat can negatively influence milk productivity in cow dairy farms.
- A wide range of health problems can cause a decrease in milk production, including feet and leg problems, lung or intestinal problems, parasites anemia (as a result of deficiencies in protein, iron, calcium, copper, cobalt or selenium. Parasites can also cause severe anemia).
- Feeding issues: ration deficiencies including insufficient or under or over-feeding, toxic weed intake, lack of water intake, or insufficient water quality.
- External conditions such as excessive heat that dairy farms in Africa may experience.
- Physical conditions in a cow dairy farm, including insufficient sanitation, overcrowding and excessive standing may cause fatigue and stress.
Besides the above mentioned causes of low milk production, we would like to draw attention to two additional less commonly known causes:
Inadequate rest: Some researchers suggest that milk production rises when cows lay down because of increased blood flow compared to when they are standing.
However, this theory has not been proven, and it may be more likely that all cows, regardless of yield, require a minimum period of rest. It is quite likely that the true cost of failing to provide cows with the proper conditions for rest may cause an increase in lameness, which has a significant impact on milk production.
The solution: Dairy farmers in Africa will be wise to ensure there is enough time for the cows to rest by limiting the milking time out of the shed, minimizing the distance cows need to walk to the milking parlor, providing enough cow sheds for cows to rest, limiting overstocking and making sure that the sheds are comfortable.
Inadequate stall surface: A recent analysis in the United States emphasized the influence of stall surface on the time cows spend eating and resting (two important factors affecting higher milk production). As it turns out, sand-bedded free stalls have significantly fewer lame cows. The explanation given for this is that on a firm surface cows have a more difficult time rising and lying down.
Another interesting conclusion from this analysis is that stall surface not only influences the amount of milk produced in a dairy farm but also the quality of the milk.
The solution: This American study by the Food Animal Production Medicine group recommends that dairy farms utilize sand-bedded frees stalls but it is important to manage this kind of surface properly in order to prevent organic material build up over time. Fresh sand must be added weekly, the bed must be leveled daily, and other measures must be taken in order to benefit from the effect of sand surface on milk quality.
Dairy Farming Solutions, from ABT Planners, offers over 30 years of international dairy farm implementation experience. If you are renovating an existing dairy farm or building from scratch, we can assist you with one or all stages, from concept to a full Turnkey solution. Our process aims to minimize errors in the short and long term – developing an enduring operation that will take into account key factors from the start. With our global experience with dairy farming, our team can often forecast revisions to environmental or operational concerns, and address these in dairy farm planning stages.
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