If you’re in the market for cows for dairy farming, then you’ve come to the right place. Pakistan has a long and proud history of dairy farming, and we’ve rounded up the best breeds for optimal production. Read on to discover which cows are best suited for your needs!
Introduction to Dairy Farming in Pakistan
Pakistan is a country that relies heavily on its livestock sector, with milk being the largest and single most important commodity. In recent years, commercial dairy farming has become a viable business proposition for peri-urban areas of the country due to high demand for milk in these areas.
Crossbred animals are mostly preferred for commercial dairy farms as they produce more milk than their local counterparts like Sahiwal and Red Sindhi cows. It is worth noting that eight Pakistani milking animals produce the same amount of milk as one milking animal from a developed country.
Currently, there are 8 million farming households in Pakistan with a total herd size of 29 million animals. Smallholder dairy farmers in Pakistan are usually unorganized and mostly carry out production and marketing independently from each other.
A typical rural commercial dairy farm running on a commercial basis consists of about 30 animals, 70% of which are females, including some cows. Furthermore, Pakistan has started modern dairy farming by importing global cow breeds mainly Holstein Frisian of different origins.
Types of Cows Suitable for Dairy Farming in Pakistan
Pakistan is home to many indigenous breeds of cows that are highly suited for profitable dairy farming. The top 5 breeds of cows for dairy farming in Pakistan are Gir, Sahiwal, Rathi, Red Sindhi, and Dutch Holstein Friesian. These breeds are known for their high milk production rates and low maintenance costs, making them a great option for peri-urban areas with higher milk demand. In addition, they require less capital investment to set up a Controlled Shed Dairy Farm with 100 cows. A typical rural commercial dairy farm can consist of up to 30 animals, including some cows and 70% female animals. Pakistan is also fortunate enough to have two of the best sub-tropical buffalo breeds in the world – Nili-Ravi and Sahiwal – which are known for their strong dairy merits. All these factors make these indigenous breeds ideal for successful dairy farming in the country.
Holstein Friesian Cow
The Holstein Frisian is a world-renowned dairy cow that originates from the Netherlands, the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world. This breed has been perfected to produce more than 100,000kgs of milk and 10,000kgs of fats and proteins during its lifetime with an average supreme quality.
In Pakistan, setting up a dairy farm with 100 cows requires an investment of approximately Rs.31%. Initially a dual-purpose breed used for both dairy and beef production, Dutch and German breeders developed it to maximize its potential. The country produces 65 million litres of cow’s milk per year, accounting for one-third of the total milk produced in the country. Organic farms producing milk for systems that recompense milk volume benefit from using higher yielding cows like Holstein Friesian.
These cows are resistant to stress and have a herd mentality; they are not solitary animals. They also enjoy the privilege of being one of the most modern dairy setups in Pakistan with 1500 heads in their herd. Additionally, crossbreeds have been developed by combining different breeds like Jersey, Brown Swiss or Holstein Friesian for even better results.
Commercial dairy farming is a lucrative business opportunity for the peri-urban areas of Pakistan, as there is a higher demand for milk in these areas. Cows must calve to produce milk and the lactation cycle is the period between first calving and the next calving. Small holder dairy farms in the humid tropics with good feeding and management can get excellent yields. The Sahiwal breed of zebu cattle symbolizes the best germplasm in India and Pakistan as far as dairy merits are concerned due to its tick-resistance, heat-tolerance, high resistance to parasites, and excellent milk yield of 20 litres/day. Crossbred dairy cattle have been imported from Denmark to further increase milk production. By using individual animal identification systems and production systems, we help livestock farmers become some of the best performing farmers in organic dairy farms producing milk. Rustic Holstein-Friesian cows with an age at first calving of 26-30 months provides an average yield of 5000-8000 kgs/lactation cycle which rewards milk volume producers more than other breeds.
The Sahiwal is a breed of zebu cattle that originated from the Sahiwal District of Pakistan. It has since become one of the best dairy breeds in India and Pakistan due to its heat tolerance, high milk production and calm demeanor when it comes to milking. Its genetic and environmental causes of variation in body weight and reproduction, as well as its relationship to other breeds in the region, have been studied extensively. The Sahiwal cow is known for its high milk yield, producing up to eight litres per day. This makes it a friend to dairy farmers, yet it is also a conservator of the breed that deserves recognition for its contributions. Through pedigree and performance records from Allahdad Cattle Farm in Jahanian, District Multan, the importance of this breed continues to be highlighted as it expands beyond India and Pakistan into other Asian countries as well as Africa.
Red Sindhi Cow
The Red Sindhi is a hardy, heat-resistant breed of zebu cattle originating in the Sindh province of Pakistan. This breed has spread to many parts of the world due to its high milk yields and has been used for dairy production in Pakistan, India, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Africa. On average, these cows produce 12 liters of milk per day – making them a valued source of dairy products. They are also referred to as Red Karachi, Sindhi and Mahi and were originally reared in Karachi and Hyderabad regions of undivided India. Pakistani livestock production is heavily reliant on Red Sindhi cattle for dairy purposes – both purebreds and crossbreeds have been known to calve normally.
Beef cattle in Pakistan have been traditionally raised for producing bullocks, with breeds such as the Australian Droughtmaster being popular choices. However, due to a lack of means to identify the best animals, the best young males are often sold for beef. To make the most out of these animals, genetic merit is evaluated using Best Linear Unbiased Prediction (BLUP), with three main breeds – Hereford, Shorthorn and Droughtmaster – being used. These breeds are also known for their tick-tolerance.
The Droughtmaster is a large breed that matures at medium-to-slightly late stages. In Malaysia, Dutch Holstein Friesian cows are bred for beef production and profit. To make use of collated information on production traits for grazing beef cattle, it is important to have knowledge on development strategies like genetic evaluation of cattle and buffalo.
In 2003, the Lai Sind herd accounted for 30% of the total cattle population in Pakistan and was seen as good genetic material for dairy development. The Sindhi cattle from this herd produced some of the best results when crossbred with Bhagnari or other British breeds like Dairy Shorthorn.
The Guernsey cow is the ideal breed for intensive, pasture-based milk production. Mature cows weigh 1,300 to 1,500 lbs and produce high-quality milk with a butterfat content of 5% and a protein content of 3.7%. Every year, the 15 dairy farms on Guernsey keep around 2,500 cows and farm almost 8,000 vergees of land for dairy production. On average, each cow produces 6,000 litres of milk per year. For organic farmers looking for highly productive cattle breeds, the cross-breeding of Holstein-Friesian and local breeds is a great option.
The Sahiwal is another high-quality dairy breed with attributes like tick resistance, heat tolerance and an impressive resistance to parasites. Many tropical countries prefer Normande cows as they are known for their dual purpose capabilities; being both vigorous and good at foraging. Ayrshire milk also stands out due to its 4.1% butterfat content. No matter what type of cow you are looking for, these three breeds make excellent choices when it comes to producing quality milk..
Brown Swiss Cow
The Dutch Holstein Friesian cow is a top choice for both small-scale and commercial dairy operations in Holland. This breed is known for their robustness, prolific breeding, long life span, strong build, adaptability and well-balanced hooves and limbs. A mature Holstein cow typically weighs 1,300-1,500 lbs and can produce between 7200-9000 kgs of milk during its first lactation. Crossbreeding indigenous cattle with exotic breeds like the Holstein has been underway in Pakistan for the last four decades to create crossbreeds which inherit traits from breeds like Jersey, Brown Swiss or Holstein Friesian. Veepro Holland is the Information Center for Dutch breeding cattle and small Dutch Holstein Friesian cows have their origin in the high-quality genetic selection that has been made over decades. The Holstein breed is widely regarded as one of the best in the world when it comes to milk production.
The Ayrshire is a moderate butterfat breed known for its high milk production, with top producing Ayrshires regularly exceeding 20,000 pounds of milk in their lactations. In Pakistan, crossbreeding activity began on military dairy farms in the 1970s and Ayrshires are now becoming the number one choice. The proposed pre-feasibility is for the establishment of Dairy Cattle Farms in Pakistan, which has a wide scope of Milk Production and ranks 3rd in the world. While Holsteins are the most common breed used for milk production due to their large size and black spots, Ayrshires offer excellent pasture performance and are ideal for small-scale farmers. Around 90-98% of cows milked in study areas were indigenous Bos Indicus cattle, while other 2-10% were crossbred Bos Taurus cattle including those with Ayrshire genes. There are 8 million farming households in Pakistan with a total herd size of 50 million animals, making it one of the highest cattle densities in the world. The Ayrshire breed was developed in the county of Ayr, Scotland and where cattle management is good they can perform up to 33% better than other breeds such as Sahiwal and Ahlawat.
Pakistan is home to a large population of dairy livestock, making it one of the top-five countries in milk production. However, these animals have low milk yields due to poor farming practices. In order to modernize dairy farming and increase milk production, there is a need for better breed diversity and improved farming techniques.
Currently, buffalo contribute the most to total milk production in Pakistan, followed by cattle and sheep/goat. Livestock production has increased by about 30% over the last few decades due to advancements in dairy farming methods. In the future, it is estimated that milk production per cow will double with the help of modernized dairying practices in developing countries like Pakistan.
Peri-urban areas have higher demand for milk, making commercial dairy farming a viable business proposition for these areas. With good farming experience and improved techniques, farmers can increase their yields and benefit from this industry.