The richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, just recently, disclosed his plans to own 50,000 cows by 2019 and produce 500 million litres of milk per year. Thus, the call for Nigerians to embrace the dairy farming business has increased.
Recently too, during a two-day international summit held at the Conference Centre, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, the President Netherlands Alumni Association of Nigeria Practical Training Centre (PTC+) Chapter, Mrs. Atinuke Akinyemi disclosed that foreign investors from Netherlands have trained 22 Nigerians on dairy production and preservation of milk as part of efforts to diversify from oil to agric sector of the economy.
Akinyemi said: “We aim to bring the dairy farmers together, educate them and also to know their challenges. We are coming together to support farmers and to help them to start off in all the dairy farming chain and farming international. We import over 90 per cent of the milk we consume in Nigeria and we are looking for a means to reduce the rate of forex.
“We are looking for a way to help farmers to produce milk. We go to farms and monitor their activities. The 22 of us who were trained by the Netherlands government scattered across the country now. Our mission is to support all this farmers with expertise on daily milk production.”
Dairy farming, like all livestock activities is a profitable venture associated with risks and its profitability is largely dependent on management. However, market, costs of inputs, innovation, and agro-climatic zone can also affect profitability.
As lucrative as this is, before jumping into this business, first:
- Understand the needs of farm animals
- Have a trial plot using 2–3 cattle
- Get the idea of the required resources for managing of these animals
- Expand after getting experience
- Provide the right shelter for them
- Make provision for a year-long source of fresh fodder and grass with concentrates
- Plan for the cleaning of sheds and disposal of dung
- Join concerned societies and groups to learn and enjoy some benefits
- Protect the cattle
To minimize the risk of losses, take note of these:
1. Selection of cattle breed
If your choice of lactating cattle breed is good at the initial stage, losses can be avoided. Select the most suitable breed for your Nigeria’s climatic conditions. Observe the lactating period months it produces milk) and the off-period (time between pregnancy and delivery).
2. Target customers
Your target should be individual customers, rather than dairy retailers. This is more beneficial, especially if your farm is accessible. This way, your customers can have ample supply of fresh milk. Of course, hotels, restaurants, caterers are your other customers.
3. Cattle farm management
Your farm is home to your livestock and it should be properly cleaned and sanitised. Otherwise, it may adversely affect the quantity/quality of milk produced, health of cattle and your expenses.
To avoid this, you should:
- Ensure the farm soil is clean and dry
- Dispose of animal waste on time
- Supply fresh drinking water all day
- Make use of fan or cooler in hot seasons to keep their body temperature normal as over heating reduces milk quantity
- Bath them in an open pond or give them shower
- Avoid getting them overfed to prevent dysentery
- Be in touch with a veterinary doctor always
These precautions can help you in starting a well-managed dairy farm. However, get in touch with either the federal or state ministry of Agriculture in your area for more information on how to start.
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