Backgrounder on dairy production

| July 19, 2021

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One of this edition’s stories from Zambia focusses on dairy farming and climate change. Dairy production is a complex and potentially lucrative activity. If farmers want to enter the field, it’s useful to know what they are getting into. This edition’s Script of the week is a backgrounder that provides a good overview. 

Why is this subject important to listeners?

Because farmers involved in dairy production should know:

  • How to design and construct a proper cow barn.
  • The breeds best suited for dairy production in their environment.
  • How to feed dairy cows to ensure maximum milk production.
  • How to milk cows properly.
  • How to handle milk to prevent contamination.
  • The quantity, type, and sources of feed needed for dairy cows and how to prepare them.

What are some key facts?

  • Dairy cows should have access to quality feed and water for at least 22 hours per day.
  • Dairy cows require 12-14 hours daily rest where they lie down.
  • A dairy cow that produces at least 30 litres of milk daily (a “high milk production cow”) should consume 4% of its body weight in dry matter every day.
  • High milk production cows can drink over 150 litres of water daily in hot seasons.
  • An increase in temperature of four degrees Celsius increases water needs by 6-7 litres daily.
  • Pregnant and milking cows require more minerals, and in particular large amounts of calcium and phosphorous.
  • In tropical East Africa, lactating cows require 60-70 litres of water daily for maintenance, and an extra 4-5 litres of water for every litre of milk they produce.