Ravindra Bapurao Pharate, a farmer from Mandavgan Pharate village in Shirur taluka of Pune district in Maharashtra, was plagued with several issues related to the health of his livestock. Firstly, mastitis took a toll on his herd, compelling him to spend around Rs.59,000 for treatment of the affected animals. Prevention methods were nowhere in sight though. Mastitis is a disease that affects the udders of the livestock. Symptoms include inflammation of udders and mammary glands, hardening of the udder, decreased milk production, and changes in the composition of milk. The animals resist milking because of the excruciating pain in the udder.
Like his forefathers, Ravindra too had been following the tie-stall method for housing and rearing of his livestock. The BAIF field team advised him to adopt a loose system of housing, instead. “I was reluctant at first since the tie-stall method was the only one known to us. However, a shift to loose housing indirectly helped me save over Rs. 59,000 on mastitis treatment. A penny saved is a penny earned,” said the grateful farmer.

Secondly, as he was not following modern breeding technology, he was not able to increase the quantity of milk produced by his animals. However, for the past year he has been working on breed improvement with encouraging results. His association with BAIF began with the use of conventional semen for cattle rearing. Dr. Santosh Ekashinge suggested a two-pronged approach. One was to focus on scientific dairy management and the other was to adopt BAIF’s sex-sorted-semen method. Accordingly, he supplemented his herd’s feed with the recommended dose of mineral mixture, followed by a deworming schedule and adopted a loose system of housing. Pharate did not report a single case of mastitis this year.

“Before shifting to improved breeding, the average milk yield for my herd was 80 litres, which sold for almost Rs. 18/- per litre. Now with cows born out of the sorted-semen technology, my herd yields up to 130 litres with a much higher SNF (solid not fat) content selling at an average of Rs. 24/-. This has been yet another feather in my cap. 12 out of 26 of my cows have been born using the sorted-semen technology. I can proudly say that not only have I experienced more than 95% improvement with the sex-sorted-semen technology, but also one of my cows has given birth to healthy twin heifers,” said a beaming Mr. Pharate.

Cow dung, another abundant by-product he has plenty of, is also a great source of supplementary income. After converting all of it into rich and purely organic vermicompost, he uses it on 2.5 acres of land, where he cultivates sugarcane and sells the surplus vermicompost. He also cultivates corn and napier for use as fodder which can also be converted and stored as silage. Mr. Pharate has managed to turn his life around by adopting modern methods of livestock rearing on advice from BAIF and is now a happy farmer.

BAIF Development Research Foundation is a reputed not-for-profit semi-government organization, whose mission is to create opportunities of gainful self-employment for rural communities, in order to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Recently, BAIF has launched 42 eLearning courses to provide scientific knowledge and technology in the agricultural field to a wider audience.
More information on the courses can be found at https://eLearning.baif.org.in