Kerala is known for its heavy beef consumption, but decreasing productivity in the farm sector is taking its toll on the bovine population which registered about 45 per cent decline in the last one decade.
Taking note of it, the Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (KVASU) is on a mission to increase performance by launching precision farming among dairy farmers.
A varsity study has revealed a serious nutritional imbalance in the cattle population based on the geographical terrains they belong to. For instance, a study on the mineral status of soil, fodder, feed and blood of animals in Chittoor, Palakkad, showed adequacy in iron and calcium content and high deficiency of zinc in fodder and blood of animals, said Dr Deepa Ananth, assistant professor, and principal investigator of the project on Precision Nutrition, KVASU.
The farmers were given mineral mixtures developed by the varsity which has improved the health of the animals.
The study found that adopting precision farming which involves optimising the resources of feed, breeds, water, and other inputs for enhanced productivity can address the nutritional imbalance effectively and enrich dairy products, she said.
KVASU’s Department of Animal Nutrition has developed a ration balancing software ‘Ksheeraprabha’, which will decide the nutrient requirements of an animal in terms of dry matter, digestible crude protein and total digestible nutrients.
The software will be widely publicised among farmers and self-help groups through Department of Dairy Development and Milk Co-operatives, said T P Sethumadhavan, Director of Entrepreneurship, KVASU.
Dr Chandrankutty, Director, Animal Husbandry Department, told ‘Express’, a healthy cow yields around 9 litres of milk, which was 7 litres a few years ago. “Modern farming techniques like precision farming can help raise the yield to 11 litres a day, enough to stop dependence on neighbouring states,” he said.
In Kerala, cattle population is around 14.5 lakh, of which around 7 lakh, including cow, buffalo and goat, yield milk. About 85 per cent of Kerala’s milk requirement is met by domestic production and milk dependence on other states is around 1.5 to 2 lakh litres per day,” he said.
“Precision farming can help increase size of a cattle which is now 300-350 kg. The beef consumption in Kerala was over 2,50,000 metric tonnes last fiscal,” said officials.