Rearing cows in the heart of Kochi

When dairy farmer Joseph PJ of Kadavanthra in Kochi heard of a Murrah buffalo on sale in Kalamassery he wished to see it. The jet-black breed of buffalo is native to Punjab and Haryana, the place it’s raised for milk and is hardly seen in Kerala. Back house, after seeing the animal, it was all he may take into consideration. The value? ₹1 lakh. “I just had to go back and buy it,” he says. Buffalo milk has many takers amongst the metropolis’s North Indian neighborhood. A dairy farmer, he sells milk to households in and round Panampilly Nagar.

Kochi has a community of casual dairy farmers like Joseph, who stored the milk provide operating throughout the lockdown. These are folks whose households have at all times had cows, the milk from which they offered to neighbours. The dairy sector is maybe the just one in Kerala’s agriculture sector that didn’t endure a value stoop attributable to COVID-19.

A employee at dairy farmer Joseph PJ’s cowshed giving cows a wash
| Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

“I have had 25-30 enquiries, at least, during the lockdown, but I have only these many cows, plus I have my regular clientèle. There is a surge in demand for milk from dairy farmers like us,” says Prashanth KP of Thykoodam, who rears seven cows together with his mom, Shantha P Thampan. He give up his job with an promoting company to take up dairy farming full-time. “This is more profitable,” says the 36-year-old.

Life had not modified a lot for him throughout the lockdown; milk was declared a necessary commodity early on. The concern was whether or not they would be capable of ship milk. “There were anxious moments — I was worried, what would I do with all the milk? But there were no hiccups fortunately,” says Joseph. He can not bear in mind a time with out cows at house. The 54-year-old took over caring for the cows when his farmer dad and mom not may. Praveen AR of Eroor too reminisces, “My mother has always had cows, earlier my father and she used to look after the cows,” he says. His household has 5 cows of indigenous breeds.

Joseph PJ of Kadvanthra with his cows

Joseph PJ of Kadvanthra together with his cows  
| Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Indigenous breeds comparable to Gir, Sahiwal and Red Sindhi are sturdy and capable of adapt to Kerala’s weather conditions. These are, nevertheless, not excessive yielding with 12-15 litres a day. These are low upkeep in comparison with the high-yielding breeds comparable to Jersey and Holstein-Friesian, which require extra care.

Suresh Babu KP of Palachuvadu too, like Prashanth, give up his job as a faculty bus driver to take care of his household’s eight cows. “It’s impossible to sustain both; the animals need attention, effort and time,” he says. His household has had cows for greater than 50 years. He plans to purchase a pair extra, to fulfill the enhance in demand.

Farming duties

Suresh’s day begins early, at Three am, when he and his older brother start by cleansing the cowshed and milking the cows by 5 am. By 11 am, he leaves to chop grass from the fields to feed the cows, returning by 2.30-Three pm. After that, in the night, it’s again to cleansing, milking and feeding the cows. “There is no break, no holidays. Our lives revolve around these cows,” he says. All his cows are the high-yielding breeds, comparable to Jersey and Holstein-Friesian, which produce 12-15 litres at a time; the cows are milked twice a day. He has even put in followers and mats in the sheds for his cows.

Rearing cows isn’t simple, particularly in the metropolis the place house and manpower may very well be an issue. While Joseph has workers to take care of his cows and buffaloes, Prashanth and his mom do every little thing — from the cleansing to the feeding to the milking. These are not like dairy farms which have a bigger set-up, with mechanisation which incorporates pasteurisation, and sale from retail or stand-alone retailers. However, these market-savvy dairy farmers package deal milk in sachets for supply, like the manufacturers.

Milk for the metropolis

  • Around 30% of the milk procured in Kochi (1,30,000-odd litres) comes from the organised sector, which contains milk co-operative societies. The milk procured goes to Milma (a milk co-operative based by Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation in 1980). There are not any precise figures for milk consumption in the metropolis as the sources differ. Besides Milma, the metropolis will get its milk from personal, Kerala-based dairies, imported manufacturers from different States, and of course, the unorganised sector comprising dairy farmers comparable to these. “These societies enable dairy farmers to get good prices, whether they sell the milk to them or not. Those who sell to the society get a fixed price plus subsidy, and those who don’t get a market where they can charge the market rate. If not for these societies, there would have been a surplus of produce,” says Jose Jacob, former Deputy Director, Dairy Department.

The cowsheds are near their properties, besides Joseph’s. His cows and buffaloes are tethered behind his brother’s workshop in Panampilly Nagar, “The cows can also be washed there,” he says, laughing. Prashanth and Praveen have open fields close to their properties, the place they let their cows to graze. The grazing enhances cattle feed; those that don’t have entry to such areas, purchase bundles of minimize grass.

The largest concern dealing with some of these folks is discovering a dependable milker. Praveen pays his common milker cash (₹1,100 per cow every month) and half the amount of milk. “I have no choice, I need this guy to keep coming. So if I get 70 litres a day, around 30-35 litres go to him. A good guy is hard to find,” says Praveen resignedly.

It is the cause why Suresh and Prashanth do their very own milking, “This way, we are not stuck if the man does a no-show. My mother and I milk our cows, so we are not held to ransom,” Prashanth says. Faced with the identical drawback, Joseph put in a milking machine which he says isn’t as efficient as handbook milking. He introduced a household, in search of work, from Wayanad for the function.

Prashanth KP of Thykoodam with his cows

Prashanth KP of Thykoodam together with his cows  
| Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Milk co-operative societies purchase milk from impartial dairy farmers, however none of these folks promote to 1. Societies make a cost based mostly on the high quality of milk, for example its fats content material. These farmers promote cow’s milk at ₹55-56 a litre, however the value fastened by society can be totally different, usually decrease.

“The quality of milk varies, depending on what stage of lactation the cow is in or when it gives birth. So getting ₹10-15 lower than the market rate is a loss for us,” says Suresh. Instead, they like particular person prospects or households that they’ve been delivering for years, the place it’s both delivered or picked up.

However many the difficulties, these households may have it no different approach. “This has been a part of my life for so long that I can’t think of another way!” Joseph says.

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