Many dairy farmers are failing to ensure good milk quality due to rising production costs; power outages and costs, high costs of disinfectants and cleaning detergents and the prevailing dry conditions making it difficult for farmers to clean theirs dairies and utensils , feed and water their animals adequately.
Speaking to the AgriSeason, Mr. Virimai Madzivire, the Regional Dairy Officer – Midlands/Masvingo Region, Veterinary Public Health – Dairy Services Unit , said that, water levels in most dams and boreholes in the Midlands and drier parts of the country is getting low and many farmers are finding it very difficult to pump and process the water
Mr. Madzivire said that the cost of providing water to the dairy animals has also been worsened by the rising cost of energy and the general power outages making it very expensive for the farmers to pump water. Electricity shortages and lack of alternative power sources causing a challenge for the farmers to pump water
The prevailing warmer temperatures coupled with electricity challenges are making it favourable for bacteria to multiply significantly reducing the milk quality while making it costly to maintain hygiene.
Mr. Madzivire, encouraged the dairy farmers to use the right cleaning detergents and disinfectants to reduce the impact bacteria in the milk and coliforms from the equipment, bulk tanks, milkers and milking utensils. He discouraged the farmers from using ordinary dishwashing liquids as they do not clean the milking equipment and utensils effectively
Farmers who constantly maintain good milk quality get rewarded through the processors’ quality premium payment scheme through bonuses which are paid for good quality milk.
Mr. Virimai Madzivire urged the farmers to have power and energy back up facilities and invest in solar technology for water pumping, irrigation of feed, water reticulation and lighting.
Many dairy farmers are finding it very difficult to provide sufficient feed for their animals and Mr. Virimai Madzivire, urged farmers to supplement commercial feeds with on farm formulated feeds from locally available resources.
Currently a bag of commercial dairy feed is almost 200 local dollars or USD20.00 which is expensive compared to the returns from milk sales. Mr. Virimai Madzivire, urged to ensure that they do not waste feed by feeding non-productive animals with the expensive feed through group feeding schemes by separating the lactating animals according to production. Farmers should also feed from cheaper sources of feed the followers and the dry cows.
Mr. Virimai Madzivire said that the rising warm conditions are also very conducive for the proliferation of many cattle disease particularly tickborne diseases. Farmers are encouraged to increase their dipping frequency from once weekly to weekly or less depending on the type of ticks in their areas and the effectiveness of the dipping regime. Recently farmers in the country lost large herds of cattle to tickborne diseases as a result of power dipping regimes and rising anti-microbial resistance of the ticks to dipping chemicals in use in the country.
The dairy unit provides a number of milk tests for farmers, processors and individuals are:
- Total Solids, fat, protein, lactose, freezing point, added water and pH tests.
- Somatic Cell Count tests
- Total Bacteria Count Tests
- Coliform Tests
- Feacal Coliform Tests
- Resuzarin Tests
- Clot-on Boil Tests
- Alcohol Tests among others for a small fee.
By Francis Bingandadi Managing Editor AgriSeason