Women contribute 50-60% of labour in farm production in India. Women form the backbone of agriculture, comprising the majority of agricultural labourers in India. Women play a significant and crucial role in agriculture and animal husbandry development. Despite the fact that women in India do most of the work in animal production, their work remains mostly invisible. This may be carried out within the confines of homesteads. Gender divisions in agriculture are stark, with all activities involving manual labour assigned to women, while all operations involving machinery and drought animals are generally performed by men. Female agricultural labourers are among the poorest sections of Indian society. 

Dairy a source of income and employment of rural women

The dairying has been considered as a potential means of alleviating large scale unemployment, especially in rural areas. Women play a key role in animal, farm and home management. Successful dairy husbandry enterprise not only improves the socio-economic status of rural women, but also assures a sustained and assured means of income to supplement their income from the main enterprise. The major activities involved in dairy farming include collection of fodder/cultivation of fodder, grazing the animals, feeding & watering, cleaning the animals and shed, milking and marketing of milk. The operations are flexible and staggered depending upon the convenience of the family members and need not necessarily be attended foregoing wage employment opportunities. 

Why dairy farming is preferred

This activity does not require heavy capital investment as the farmers can start with the available non-descript cows or purchase cows easily in local markets.  The local cows are hardy and can be maintained even by landless by procuring crop residues.  Dairy farming does not demand heavy labour and hence the rural families can undertake this activity without altering their present engagements. The technology is simple and most of the local people are aware of the skills.  Finally there is good demand for milk even in local markets and there are several indigenous techniques to handle unsold surplus milk. Dairy business provides good opportunity for women to develop this activity as an enterprise and ensures steady cash returns throughout the year. The crossbred cows which are valued at Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 are considered as mobile cash reserves which are often sold to meet urgent cash needs. Apart from providing employment and income, dairy farming has several other advantages. Livestock consume agricultural by-products and in turn supply farmyard manure and biogas. Such mixed farming ensures an excellent nutrient recycling which is an eco-friendly practice. Biogas reduces the dependence on wood for household fuel. Breed improvement and good dairy husbandry practice can promote stall feeding which in turn helps to utilise the dung for biogas and manure and conserve our forest and pasture resources. 

Principles & Practices for the Sustainable Dairy Farming

1. Animal-breed                                                                                                                          

ii) Consider the farm’s structure & local situation when choosing animals.

ii) The selection of breeds takes into account market requirements, feed availability, and resistance to diseases and environmental conditions.

2. Animal health

  • Prevent the entry of diseases onto the farm.  
  • Have secure boundaries/fencing.
  • Avoid direct contact of visitors with animals and take safety measures in precaution of spreading of diseases.
  • Have bio security measures in place to minimise the risk of spread of disease with in  the farm and between other farms (transport cattle only in cleaned and disinfected vehicles, dispose fallen stock properly and have a contingency plan for an infectious disease outbreak etc).
  • Farmer should try to source animals of known disease status and control their introduction onto the farm. Special policy is recommended for introducing stock of unknown disease status. If possible, utilise disinfectant as a means of undertaking cleaning and disinfecting of boots/clothing, vehicles and facilities. Only use clean equipment from known source.
  • Use a recognised system that allows all animals to be identified individually from birth to death.
  • Develop an effective herd health management program focused on prevention that meets the farm’s needs as well as regional and national requirements. Regularly check animals for signs of disease. Sick animals with contagious diseases should be attended to, quickly and in an appropriate way. They should be isolated when necessary. Keep written records of all treatments and identify treated animals appropriately. Manage animal diseases that can affect public health (Zoonoses).

Vaccination schedule  for cattle and buffaloes in a dairy farm






Time of vaccination

FMD (Foot and Mouth disease)

Cattle and Buffalo

Polyvalent FMD vaccine

3ml S/C

1 year

February and December

Haemmorhagic Septicaemia(HS)

Cattle and Buffalo

HS vaccine

5ml S/C

6 months and 1 year

May - June

Black Quarter (B.Q)

Cattle and Buffalo

BQ vaccine

5ml S/C

6 months and 1 year

May - June


Cattle and Buffalo

Anthrax spore vaccine

1ml S/C

 1 year

May - June


Female cattle and buffalo calf aged 4-8 months only.

Brucella vaccine

2ml S/C

1 year



Cattle and calves above 2 months of age

Theileriosis vaccine

3ml S/C

1 year


Rabies post bite vaccination

Cattle and buffalo

Rabies post bite vaccination

1ml S/C

1 year

0,3,7,14,28 and 90 days

3.  Milking hygiene, milk storage and milk safety

A. Ensure that milking routines do not injure cows or introduce contamination to milk.

  1. Ensure appropriate udder preparation for milking.
  2. Ensure consistent milking techniques.
  3. Separate milk when required, from sick or treated animals.
  4. Ensure that the milking equipment is correctly installed and maintained.

B. Carry out milking activities under hygienic conditions.

  1. Where you provide housing ensure that the housing environment is clean at all times.
  2. Ensure that the milking area is kept clean.
  3.  Ensure that the milkers follow hygiene rules.

C. Handle milk properly after milking activities.

  1. Ensure that the milk is cooled to the specified temperature and/or delivered to a processing plant in a specified time.
  2. Ensure that milking equipment is sanitized with potable water or water free of pathogens.
  3. Ensure that the milk storage area is clean and tidy.
  4. Ensure that milk storage equipment is adequate to hold milk at the specified temperature.
  5. Keep the access for bulk milk collection unobstructed.

4.  Animal feeding and water

A. Feed and water all animals in sufficient quantity, and with products of suitable quality and safety.

  1. Ensure that the nutritional needs of the animals are met.
  2. Ensure that good quality water supplies are provided, regularly checked and maintained.
  3. Use different equipment for handling chemicals and feedstuffs.
  4. Ensure chemicals are used appropriately on pastures and forage crops.
  5. Only use approved chemicals for treatment of animal feeds or components of animal feeds and observe withholding periods for grazing.
  6. Separate feeds intended for different species.

B. Control feed storage conditions.

  1. Feed storage areas must be constructed to protect as far as practical against entrance and harbouring of domestic animals, wildlife and vermin.
  2. Efforts must be made to protect feedstuffs from soiling and contamination. In particular, evidence of faecal contamination, or stale feed, at the point of presentation to dairy cattle is not acceptable.
  3. An appropriate vermin control program shall be provided for stored feed, and diary records of bait changing dates may be used to confirm an individual farmer's vermin control policy.
  4. Mouldy feed should be rejected.

C. Ensure traceability of feedstuffs bought off the farm.

  1. All suppliers of animal feeds should have an approved quality assurance programme in place.
  2. Maintain records of all feed or feed ingredients received on the farm (specified bills or delivery notes on order).

5.  Animal welfare & lodging

A. Ensure that all animals are free from hunger, thirst and malnutrition.

  1. Provide sufficient feed (forage and/or fodder) and water every day.
  2. Provide sufficient space at the feeder and waters to avoid competition among animals.
  3. Protect animals from toxic plants and other harmful substances.
  4. Provide adequate water supplies of good quality that are regularly checked and maintained.

B. Ensure that all animals are free from discomfort.

  1. Design and construct buildings to be free of obstructions and hazards.
  2. Provide adequate space allowances and dry bedding.
  3. Protect the animals from adverse weather conditions and the consequences of thereof.
  4. Provide housed animals with adequate ventilation.
  5. Ensure that the floors are not slippery.

C. Ensure that all animals are free from pain, injury and disease.

  1. Have an effective herd health management programme in place and inspect animals regularly.
  2. Protect the animals against lameness.
  3. Do not use procedures and practices that cause unnecessary pain.
  4. Follow appropriate calving and weaning practices.
  5. Have appropriate procedures for marketing calves.

 D. Ensure that all animals are free from fear and distress.

  1. Provide competent animal husbandry skills and appropriate training for staff.
  2. Protect the animals during transportation according to the OIE animal welfare standards for the transport of animals by land, sea and air.
  3. Humane killing of animals should be ensured by adhering to the OIE animal welfare standards for slaughter of animals and killing of animals for disease control purposes.

E. Ensure that all animals are free to engage in normal patterns of animal behaviour.

  1. Have herd management and husbandry procedures that do not unnecessarily compromise social activity.

Constraints in management of dairy enterprise and remedies

Constraints imply the problems or difficulties faced by dairy farmers while adopting day-to-day animal husbandry practices in their dairy enterprise. These constraints can be classified under three categories i.e. situational, financial and technological constraints.

1. Situational constraints -  comprises low milk production by local breeds, shortage of green fodder, lack of clean water and shortage of milk preservation facility in order of its nature and severity.

2. Financial constraints-  comprises delay in milk payment followed by inadequate money and lack of loan facility, high cost of concentrate and other feeds, high cost of high yielding breeds of animals and high cost of medicines respectively as their constraints in descending order.

3. Technical constraints- comprises inadequate knowledge of diseases through prevention and control, followed by non-availability of artificial insemination facilities and timely veterinary services and non-availability of veterinary hospitals as important constraints in order of its nature and severity.

In addition to this poor knowledge about clean milk production (72%) and poor housing to dairy animals (69.33%), are the other major constraints of dairy development.

The majority of farmers (88.66%) have not knowledge about conversion of milk into value added even indigenous milk products due to that they are not getting more profit from their milk. There is non uniform and inadequate presence of dairy cooperative societies in India. Therefore, farmers do not get proper remuneration for their milk. Other constraints include high production cost of milk (65.33%) and lack of loan facility for dairy animals by bank also creating constraints in adopting dairy as a business.

Remedies and actions required

It is hightime for the feminization of dairy. The solution lays in the formation of   village level women self help groups. United efforts of these SHGs, Govt and NGOs  are required to fight against the constraints in each aspect of dairy farming practices. Government and milk federation must take corrective action for formation of village level cooperative societies, so that farmers get proper market for their milk with reasonable cost. In addition to this dairy  development department must conduct skill-oriented long term training programs for production of value  added milk products, so that they get more prices, from  their raw material (milk). In addition to this, dairy development department must conduct skilled oriented long term training for production of value added milk products, so that they get more prices from their raw material (milk).Bank of local area should encourage the rural women for dairy business by easily availability of loans with reasonable interest or providing subsidies to dairy farmers by the dairy development department for promoting dairy business.  The animal husbandry department must conduct vaccination/ deworming/ health care programme with the help of scientists to improve knowledge among farmers about importance of schedule vaccination, deforming and health care of dairy animals and also conduct training programme for milk producers of study area about better management of milch animals coupled with importance and techniques of clean milk production. Government should take proper action for controlling the high charges taken by particularly government veterinary doctor/staff for performing medical assistance.It is necessary that government as well as NGO (Non-government organization) must take initiative for proper functioning of AI centres. Veterinary and animal husbandry officers, district dairy development officers and scientists must aware the farmers regarding scientific feeding practices to dairy animals through conducting training.          

Keeping in view of above facts, there is need from government or other dairy development agencies to make available all essential infrastructures along with proper supply of technical inputs and services at the same time. If all suggestive measures taken up by government then only the study area will get momentum in feminization of  dairy sector.


 R Kumari1, S Kumar2   , S.V.Lal3, S Dayal 1, and A.Dey 1

 1 DLFM, RCER-ICAR, Patna-800014,  

Animal Nutition Division,Bihar Veterinary College, Patna-800014,    

3 NDRI, Karnal-132001, Haryana

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