Dairy business in Nigeria and Africa has not boomed as expected and 98% of annual consumption is imported. Annual demand in Nigeria is estimated 1,300 metric tonnes of dairy products which is about $1.5 billion dollars annually. The current status of dairy production in Nigeria shows that there are 16 million heads of cattle of which 85% are managed by 12 million indigenous pastoralists.
The gap between supply and demand for dairy products is widening as a result of increase in population and urbanisation.
Therefore, investing in dairy business is channeling resources in the right direction as there is high returns on the investment, provision of animal protein, job creation and contributing optimally to the gross domestic product (GDP).
The following are the 8 factors that must be considered for successful dairy business:
- Technical Knowhow: It is essential to undergo either formal or informal training on dairy business management, there is a need to have veterinary consultant and trained farm hands for smooth business running.
- Land and Site selection: A large area of land is required to grow grasses for the animals, the standard is that @ acres of land can feed 14 – 15 cows. The land can be demaracated into paddocks and irrigated for quick growth of planted grasses required in making silage.
- Housing: A well ventilated shed must be constructed that can protect the animals from low or high temperatures, winds, heavy rainfall, parasites and any form of discomfort that affect their performance. It is compulsory to build expensive structures, low cost structures are economical. The standard spacing per cow is 8ft by 12ft.
- Good Water Source: The quality of the water must be clean; good for consumption and must be sufficient to grow grass for the animals.
- Fodder: Animals used for dairy should be fed with good quality fodder for production of good quality milk with high fat content. Three types of fodder required are green fodder (silage), dry fodder (dry maize cobs, maize bran, rice or wheat bran) and feed concentrate which prevent cows from mineral deficiencies. All the 3 fodders must be mixed in accurate proportion for a high milk yield.
- Good Breed: The improved breed of cows produce large quantity of milk e.g Friesian produces 12,000kg of milk per year, Norwegian Red produces 10,000kg per year, French Simmental 6,400kg per year. More milk more profit. Over the year there has been improvement on the indigenous breeds but White Fulani has shown better results. There is need for more cross breeding programmes, though F1 generation a cross breed of White Fulani with Friesian cow produces 10 – 15 litres of milk per day and 5,400 kg per year.
- Effective Medication and Vaccination Programme: A proper vaccination schedule that will protect the animals and control diseases must be designed by an experienced veterinarian. Vaccinations like foot and mouth disease vaccine, rabies, anthrax, haemorrhagic septicemia etc depending on the prevailing diseases condition in a particular area, it must be designed by a Vet. Periodic deworming and ticks control programme must be put in place, every 3-4 months.
Ticks infestation can be controlled by spraying insecticides like Cypermethrin and Malathion on the animals, floor, walls and surroundings; spray and plaster wall cracks or crevices; thorough cleaning of the animals shed from time to time; clear off weed 20ft away from the shed and the following process must be should be repeated every 3months.
- Good Biosecurity: good daily dairy farm management like proper cleaning of the sheds, water / feeding troughs, disposal of urine, dung and fodder remnants must be adhered to improve farm hygiene and reduce odour as much as possible.
Dairy farming is capitally intensive and it’s success depends on the factors highlighted above.