Colostrum and its importance

Colustrum is the milk the buffalo gives immediately after giving birth to a calf. In telugu, it is called junnupalu (జున్ను పాలు), in tamil – seempaal (சீம்பால்), in kannada – ginnu and in hindi – खीस/नवदुग्ध. The buffalo gives colustrum for up to 4 days after delivery.

Colostrum is the most important and most suitable feed for the newborn calf.  It contains all the nutrients needed along with the vital antibodies. Unfortunately, most dairy farmers use it for making a sweet named Junnu or give it away free to neighbours or some even discard/trash the excess Colostrum milk. Since newborn calf immune system is not developed, it is important for the calf to drink as much colustrum as posssible at regular intervals.

Colustrum is very thick and contains approximately 25% solids, compared to 15% solids in normal buffalo milk.  Colostrum contains antibodies or immunoglobulins (essential proteins) necessary to provide the calf with protection from disease. Much of the extra solid material in colostrum is immunoglobulin, but colostrum is also an important source of protein, sugar, fat, and vitamins A and E.

It is crucial for the survival of the calf that it receives colostrum during the first 6 hours of its life, the earlier the better. The calves should be given colostrum as long as the mother provides it, e.g. three to five days. A calf should receive 5 to 6 % of its body weight as colostrum within the first six hours of life, and another 5 to 6% of its body weight when the calf is 12 hours old.  Colostrum should be fed to the calf several times a day, preferably more than twice a day, at equal intervals.

Surplus colostrum can be stored in fridge and can be given to the calf when required. Use a clean container to store the colustrum in fridge and when feeding, keep the container in room temperature for 30 minutes and then feed it to the calf. If the colustrum was frozen, soak it in warm water before feeding. Never boil the colustrum as it will it destroy the anti-bodies which is required for the calf.

To summarize, feeding colustrum to newborn calf is very important for the survival of the calf. Do not make sweets or waste colostrum. Store excess colustrum in fridge and feed it to the calf as long as possible.


Gliricidia – The multi-purpose fodder plant


Gliricidia is a small fast growing multi-purpose legume plant. It is deciduous and thornless plant. It grows up to a height of 10-15 meters.

Fodder Characteristics

Gliricidia leaves contain between 25 to 30% crude protein and are highly digestible for ruminants like buffalos, cows and goat.  Few animals seem to refuse leaves on the basis of smell, often rejecting them without tasting. In such situations, introduce smaller portions of Gliricidia mixed with other chaffed fodder and also add Salt and Jaggery while chaffing.

Soil and Climate Suitability

Gliricidia tolerates a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Growth is most rapid in regions where annual rainfall exceeds 900 mm, but it will grow where rainfall is as low as 400 mm per annum. But it does not tolerate frost conditions. It grows in soils ranging from heavy clays to sands and on rocky eroded sites; however, it is intolerant of water logging.

Grow on Farm Bunds

Gliricidia plants are usually planted on the farm bunds. Planting these on farm bunds has the following advantages:

  • No need of extra land and optimal use of farm bunds.
  • Gliricidia stops soil erosion and water run-off.
  • Since Gliricidia is a legume – it generates nitrogen and enriches soil and thereby increasing the productivity of other crops.

Planting Method

Gliricidia can be planted either through seeds or stem cuttings. When using seeds, it is better to raise the seeds in poly-bags. Soak the seeds overnight before planting them. Almost all seeds will germinate within a week. They can be planted in the fields or farm bunds after 6 to 8 weeks. (Note:  We supply Gliricidia seeds and saplings at very nominal price)

Gliricidia can also be propagated/established from cuttings. Cuttings should be of mature branches (>7 cm in diameter), which are brownish-green in bark color. The cutting is normally made obliquely at both ends, discarding the younger tips, and the base inserted 20-50 cm into the soil.

For gliricidia grown in the humid tropics and used only for forage, a cutting interval of 5-8 weeks is usually recommended. It is able to produce profuse branching and fresh growth after every cutting.

Other Purposes

Gliciridia can be used as green manure.  If cultivated along the border in one acre, it will supply enough green leaf manure for 2 acres of land. This can also used as input material for vermi-composting. Gliricidia also fixes atmospheric nitrogen and thereby improves soil fertility.


There is evidence of increased milk and meat production when Gliricidia is used as a supplemental fodder because of it’s high protein content. And also this can be very helpful in increasing soil fertility. So, it would be a good idea to plant Gliricidia on the farms bunds.

Visit to a buffalo farm in USA

Last week, I was visiting my relatives in California and was checking the places to visit near San Francisco. We visited usual places such as the Napa Valley, Golden Gate, etc and luckily, I was also able to visit a buffalo farm as well.

Ramini Mozzarella Water Buffalo Farm

This farm had a very interesting story. This farm was started by a person named Ramini. He was an IT professional working in the silicon valley and when he turned 50 – while evaluating his professional life – it seems he decided to do something else other than IT for the rest of his life. So that’s when he decided to start a dairy farm.

Italian, Mozzarella, Buffalo and Fate

Ramini’s family is of Italian descendant and Italians love real Mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) cheese. And original mozzarella di bufala cheese is only made from Buffalo milk. And in US, there are no water buffalo’s, so they make mozzarella from cow’s milk or export it from Italy which is stale by the time it reaches US. So Ramini decided that he will raise buffalo’s in US and make fresh mozzarella di bufala using buffalo milk. The challenges were many – he did not have farming experience, good quality buffalo’s were not available in US and most importantly he did not know how to make mozzarella di bufala. So he spent years raising his herd and mastering the mozzarella di bufala cheese making process. Sadly, that’s when he had cancer and passed away. Now the farm is run by his wife, Audrey, with lots of support from locals and well wishers. She is now making profit and increased the herd size to 50. Probably, she is the largest water buffalo dairy farmer in US.

Farm Visit

Ramini’s farm can be visited on every Saturday – the fee is $25 per person and the tour starts at 4 PM. Local visitors were very excited to see the buffalo’s and touch the calves.

For more details – check

Important Lesson

I met Cale who assists Audrey in the farm. He recently graduated in agriculture from University of California. He is learning dairy farming by working in the Ramini farm and was doing every work in the farm. In US, the system is that new dairy farmers work in a farm and also slowly build their herd with the owner and when they are ready, they move out to their own farm with their herd and the knowledge. This is a fantastic approach and was wondering why this can’t be followed in India – this will give the knowledge and confidence and also eliminates the risk in starting a dairy farm.

Pictures from the visit


Government Subsidies for Dairy Farming


Subsidy is a form of financial support from government to promote dairy farming in India. The primary capital subsidy is from central government which is managed through NABARD. State governments also provide support through subsidized fodder seeds, medicines, equipment, vetinery services, etc but state governments usually do not provide financial support.


NABARD stands for National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. Though NABARD is a bank, it usually does not directly deal with customers – it coordinates with other banks and co-operatives to deliver services. Central government allocates dairy subsidy amount in yearly budget to NABARD and NABARD works with other banks to distribute this amount to farmers.

Dairy Entrepreneurship Development Scheme (DEDS)

DEDS is a central government subsidy to promote dairy farms. The objectives of the scheme are as follows:

  • To promote setting up of modern dairy farms for production of clean milk
  • To encourage heifer calf rearing thereby conserve good breeding stock
  • To bring structural changes in the unorganized sector so that initial processing of milk can be taken up at the village level itself.
  • To bring about upgradation of quality and traditional technology to handle milk on a commercial scale
  • To generate self employment and provide infrastructure mainly for unorganized sector.

Who is Eligible for DEDS Subsidy?

  • Farmers,  individual entrepreneurs, NGOs, companies , groups of unorgainsed and organized sector etc. Groups of organized sector include self help groups, dairy cooperative societies, milk unions , milk federations etc.
  • An individual will be eligible to avail assistance for all the components under the scheme but only once for each component
  • More than one member of a family can be assisted under the scheme provided they set up separate units with separate infrastructure at different locations. The distance between the boundaries of two such farms should be at least 500m.


The following are the subsidies through DEDS:

S.No Component Unit Cost Pattern of Assistance
1 Establishment of small dairy units with crossbred cows/ indigenous descript milch cows like Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Gir, Rathi  etc / graded buffaloes   upto 10 animals Rs 5.00 lakh for 10 animal unit – minimum unit size is 2 animals with an upper limit of 10 animals. 25% of the outlay (33 .33 % for SC / ST farmers, ) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 1.25 lakh for a unit of 10 animals ( Rs 1.67 lakh for SC/ST farmers,). Maximum permissible capital subsidy is Rs 25000 ( Rs 33,300 for SC/ST farmers )for a 2 animal unit. Subsidy shall be restricted on a prorata basis depending on the unit size
2 Rearing of heifer calves – cross bred, indigenous descript milch breeds of cattle and of graded buffaloes – upto 20 calves Rs 4.80 lakh for 20 calf unit  -minimum unit size of 5 calves with an upper limit of  20 calves 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 1.20 lakh for a unit of 20 calves ( Rs 1.60 lakh for SC/ST farmers). Maximum permissible capital subsidy is Rs 30,000 ( Rs 40,000 for SC/ST farmers) for a 5 calf unit. Subsidy shall be restricted on a prorata basis depending on the unit size
3 Vericompost (with milch animal unit .To be considered with milch animals and not separately ) Rs 20,000/- 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers)as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 5,000/- ( Rs 6700/- for SC/ST farmers,).
4 Purchase of milking machines /milkotesters/bulk milk cooling units (upto 2000 lit capacity) Rs 18 lakh 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 4.50 lakh ( Rs 6.00 lakh for SC/ST farmers).
5 Purchase of dairy processing equipment for manufacture of indigenous milk products Rs 12 lakh 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 3.00 lakh ( Rs 4.00 lakh for SC/ST farmers).
6 Establishment of dairy product transportation facilities and cold chain Rs 24 lakh 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 6.00 lakh ( Rs 8.00 lakh for SC/ST farmers).
7 Cold storage facilities for milk and milk products Rs 30 lakh 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 7.50 lakh ( Rs 10.00 lakh for SC/ST farmers).
8 Establishment of private veterinary clinics Rs 2.40 lakh for mobile clinic and Rs 1.80 Lakh for stationary clinic. 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 60,000/- and Rs 45,000/- ( Rs 80,000/- and Rs 60,000/-  for SC/ST farmers) respectively for  mobile and stationary clinics
9 Dairy marketing outlet / Dairy parlour Rs 56,000/- 25% of the outlay (33.33 % for SC / ST farmers) as back ended capital subsidy subject to a ceiling of Rs 14,000/-( Rs 18600/- for SC/ST farmers).

How to apply for the Subsidy?

The entrepreneurs shall apply to their banks for sanction of the project. The bank shall appraise the project as per their norms and if found eligible, sanction the total outlay excluding the margin, as the bank loan. The loan amount is then disbursed in suitable installments depending on the progress of the unit. After the disbursement of first installment of the loan, the bank shall apply to the concerned Regional Office of NABARD for sanction and release of subsidy.

Basically, you need to approach your local bank and apply for dairy loan. Bank will process the loan application like any other loan. You might need to submit the project report and you would need to pledge property as security depending on the loan amount. Most banks are trying to avoid dairy loans as many dairy farmers are not able to repay their loans.

One more thing to remember, this subsidy is available as first-come first-serve basis. This means when you apply the loan, the subsidy amount should still be available for that year. It is better to check with your Bank manager rather than assuming that you will get subsidy. Generally, subsidy will be available in the beginning of the financial year ie from April.

What is a back-end subsidy?

Though NABARD will release the subsidy to the bank but it will not be count against your loan. If you barrowed 10 lakhs and subsidy is 2 lakhs – the subsidy amount will be added only after you repay 8 lakhs. This basically means you have to repay your portion first.


Though the government provides support, it is a bit challenging to avail those benefits.