Journey from corporate world to Farming

Hi Team,

Off late I got a few emails asking me on how did I decide to get into farming, where I took training and so on. I thought I will write a detailed blog, but Im not finding time to do so :frowning:

I have been replying to the emails (with a delay) and most of them seem to be same questions. Hence I decided to track my journey here so that it will act as a library for others. Foe ease of reading I will divide this into small topics and posts.

Please note: I am not an expert at all and have no practical knowledge, just knowledge acquired over the internet, talking to some experts and some official training. The sole purpose of this is to document my journey in real time and encourage others to get into farming. There might be better resources and methods, what is written in further posts is only result of my personal research and choice made

Introduction: Let me introduce myself to give a brief about where I come from.

I’m born in Bangalore and grown up here. A total city life exposure with no village/agricultural exposure. Only exception is a few trips to farms/resorts/homestays and also few visits to my uncle’s farm.

Current occupation: more than 10yrs in corporate world and currently an ops manager in an MNC.

Seed of the idea: All through my college life, I thought about the fact that many farmers are moving into the cities and if this trend continues soon there will not be anyone left to grow food, leading to an imbalance… shortage of food… raise in demand… raise in price hike. As time passed I forgot about this and got busy in work n career…

Now after these many years, the urge is back… for last year or so I have been doing research around it, on latest techniques which have evolved around the globe. Got to know about hydroponics, aquaponics, ZBNF, mixed farming and lot more. Also a few crops like stevia and quinoa which are relatively new to India. Explored poultry, quail, dairy, rabbits… then I decided to choose 1 plan for action and 1 relatively fool proof regular income, just to keep me into it (decided this after reading the cause and analysis of many failures and saddening suicide stories of our farmers) and not run away due to initial losses. Had to take this approach as luckily I do not come from a rich family background - yes I say Im lucky I dont have a very rich family background, we have to earn our bread everyday/every month as it taught me to earn everything.

So I decided to try my hand with cultivation of vegetables partially with traditional method and partially with aquaponics. Which vegetables??? not yet decided.
Moving to backup plan - the regular income… I chose Dairy Farming. Lot of hard work, I knew… but everyday income :slight_smile: that was the agenda… and if I was not ready for hardwork, I was not fit to venture here.

Thats the mantra, HARD WORK. Most people forget and look and only monetary side.

Keep it up my friend, you are going in the right direction with right attitude to get positive results.

Nikhil

Hi Nithin,

First of all, All the very best for the next role in your life and appreciate you,for sharing your thoughts with large number of audience here about what you have gained in your week training.

Once again, i wish you all the very best my friend. Looking for valuable inputs further.

Regards
Raghav

Now that I had decided what I wanted to do, I started my extensive research on Dairying. Lot of late night research, reading articles and experiences of other people……

What I decided to do before training:
I thought I should go for 2 animals every alternate month, this will help me in tracking the insemination time as every month we will do the activity for next set of animals in rotation. So this led me to plan for 60 animals. After 5 years I thought I will sell the cows brought first then the cycle continues.

Every alternate month buy new cows, do artificial insemination, get 2 calves, sell the male calves and rear the female calves and based on their health add them – remove cows regularly and keep the top 60 healthy animals……

Sounded perfect plan  :sunglasses: but this was good only on papers/excel sheet not in reality as I learnt from the training.

                                                              Why?

  1. Not all insemination result in a calf, success rate is less than 50%. Hence the factory like approach of every 2 months is not possible
  2. Without knowing the practical difficulties going to a number as high as 10+ in just 5-6 months is not good
  3. Buying healthy animals is not as easy as go to market and pick up, needs lot of time n effort sometimes months together
  4. And if you get into pressure of buying 2 a month regularly, it leads to lower quality animal selection
  5. So too much time involved in buying new animals => lesser time in the farm – drop in output – lower health of animals – lesser profit – ultimately loss in business and shut down of the farm.

So after the training I decided:
I will go for 4-5 healthy cows. Give full attention to learning the best practical approach, ensure regular health check-up of the animals. Spend time and learn their body language – yes they exhibit their emotions through their body language. Set up a routine for feeding, milking, giving some exercise to the cows (let them roam freely in open space) clean the shed regularly, give bath to the cows regularly… keep doing this till both me and cows get used to this and know what is coming next… this I think will help in reducing the efforts during milking…

I think it is enough of what I did and now let us get into what the experts taught me. Again, I’m not taking any expert’s name here and would like to make a few points very clear.

  1. Life sciences has no specific rules
  2. All that I will mention next is based on what I have understood from the training and some places I might have misunderstood (very less chances, about 4% - 5%)
  3. These points are theoretical and can be fine-tuned as per the local conditions (climate, breed availability, size of land available, water availability, budget and other factors….)
  4. Don’t go by this post as a rule book, refer this for planning and when you have decided to venture into it, consult an expert in your area. I’m 100% sure there will be some deviation to the plan and some changes will be suggested
  5. This is just the skeleton, you need to put in the organs and skin to make up the living body

I’m leaving this post as it is, so that if I remember any other rules, I will update it.
What I understood/learnt from the training in further posts

How many cows do you have now?
are you using milking machine?

Now let us look into the understanding of breeds. Who enters your farm is most important  :wink:

There are 3 broad classifications as below, let us now compare the top 2 generally.

  1. Indian Breeds
  2. Foreign Breeds
  3. Cross Breeds

Indian Breeds:

  1. Less milk compared to foreign breeds
  2. Disease resistance is higher (low maintenance)
  3. Can tolerate temperature variations better
  4. Lower reproduction rate (lesser calves) / inter calving period is higher
  5. Some breeds can be used in fields too – yes some cows can be – I was surprised to hear this

Foreign Breeds:

  1. High milk produce
  2. Very sensitive and low resistance
  3. Need fan/mosquito net and other such precautions
  4. Comes to heat very early in its age (ready to be crossed/inseminated)
  5. More Calves, more lactation periods, more milk production
  6. Cannot be used in fields

Cross Breeds: Indian breeds are easy to maintain but less milk, foreign breeds are difficult to maintain but milk yield is higher. Wish we could have both the qualities in one…… we do have…… Cross breeds are the answer to this, theoretically 50% qualities of both, practical values might vary. But these have better resistance to diseases, easier to maintain. They also give higher milk yield.

Some famous Indian Breed classifications:

a. Purely for milk
    1. Red Sindhi
    2. Sahiwal
    3. Gir

b. Agricultural use, not much milk
    1. Kangayam
    2. Amrut Mahal
    3. Halli Karu

c. Mix of both
    1. Karpakar
    2. Kankrej

d. Other Breeds
    1. Malenadu Gidda – Mainly for dung, not for milk -
    2. Ongole – tall and hard working
    3. Vechur – miniature cow, found mostly in Kerala

Some famous foreign breeds

  1. Ireshire
  2. Brown Swiss
  3. Garnsey
  4. Shadhorn
  5. Holestien Freishen (HF)– Suitable for India
  6. Jersey – Suitable for India

Usually in India, we cross local breed with HF or Jersey. Breed mix is very complex to be written, please take advice from your consulting expert

Random Tip: Generally for 1kg milk production it takes about 450gm food (not a rule, might vary)
HF milk fat percentage is lower than Jersey

Hi Vishal;

Currently I have just completed the training and in process of setting up the farm. I do not yet have any cows - no practical knowledge :frowning:

The training center had about 20+ cows and yes they used the milking machine. It is safe to use it and does not harm the cow.

Hello Nitihin

I am also planning to set up a cattle farm in Odisha with Holstein Friesian cross breed cows. i am new to this industry…
Could you share your knowledge and experience with me?

vishalgoel88@yahoo.com
9692452054

Nithin,

Really true , you are very parctical. Wish you all the best and good luck. I am very confident that you will succeed in your venture.

Hi Nithin, I am a new member and just read all your posts. Congratulate you for the bold step taken.
  If possible give us details about the training center, duration, fees etc.,.  Are there any training centers for farming also?  Pls give details as and when possible for you.  Thanks once again. Bye and all d best.
BVR Kumar. (kumarbachu@gmail.com, Ph:07036057111)

Let us now look into some points to be considered when we buy a cow.

Skin: Skin should be smooth and shiny and ensure there is no dandruff

BCS (Body Condition Scoring): 1 = Skinny, 5 = Plumpy (fat) this is decided only by experts who have seen enough cows to measure by the looks. For beginner like me, I designed the below condition

>Good healthy thighs (shows strength), strong feet, bones not visible – only backbone seen

Legs: Should be strong, no limp or visible disability, weight evenly distributed (about 60% of weight is usually on front legs)

Nice and wide (proportional to body) forehead

Eyelashes should be parallel to the ground. Towards sky – bulged eyes; towards ground – less water

Jaw should be stiff and without any bulging

Teats: should be equal and smooth, if there is and lump/bead developed inside reject it

There are a lot more parameters, but only pictures can explain it and unfortunately I do not have it  :-[, hence I have mentioned only some main points. It is best always to take an expert along.

These are only a few points to ensure the brokers/agents do not take us for a ride. I think if I say a few things from above agent will understand that I cannot be taken for a ride…. That is my idea behind this  :sunglasses:

More info as and when I get some time…

Hi,

Thanks for sharing your valuable feedback.

I am too working in corporate world in Mumbai with dream of starting my own farming setup. As of now i have procurred about 34 acres(Target is around 100 acres land in 2 years) of land in Nirmal, Telangana and now exploring how to start since i am very new to this with no expeirince but with a very clear vision towards end to end food processing. You were constantly referring to “Training” in most of the posts. Can you please let me know what kind of training and where are these specialised training provided. I am currently referring to all the posts and thread available online which have given me some brief idea about how to go forward with it but when it comes to execution there are many gaps that i experience with limited knowledge. I always have to again go back to traditional practices. My idea is to explore new technologies and get those technologies to India and am looking forward to take this as a Non Profit based industry with all the revenues going towards bringing technology and to increase maximum yields with scientific support.

Please let me know your thoughts on the same and your valuable feedback to explore dairy farming also.

Thanks & Regards,
Srikanth Samudrala

First of all Thanks for sharing knowledge at the very initial stage of your learning.
Please do let us all know what sort of training is this, where, duration and topics covered.
That will be very helpful for aspirants like me.

All the best!!!

Regards,
Ashish

Nithin,

I am a farmer, i am looking at Desi Cows. What would be your suggestion.

Dear Godisgreat,

in my personal opinion, desi breeds are good for second income, not as a commercial project. Desi breeds like Gir and Sahiwal have said to give 12-15ltrs a day, but as per suggestions given by experts, the average is about 8-10 ltrs a day. So the choice is yours. :slight_smile: good luck

Sorry for the delay, have been a bit busy, I will try to finish the training part today so that for people who need info there is one resource

Nutrition For Dairying – lets see what I learnt about the feed for the animals

Before we start there is 1 thing we need to note, monocot and dicot – what is it and difference

Monocot: the cereals which does not break into 2 – example: maize, bajra, wheat, rice, ragi, millet….

Dicot: cereals which are formed by pairs, easily break into 2 – example horsegram, cowpea, beans, groundnut and so on

Lets look at some balanced feeding components:

  1. Water: about 90%; got from drinking water and greenfodder
  2. Carbohydrates: fodder crops – monocot (monocot crops are rich in carbohydrates)
  3. Proteins: Dicot fodder crops, pulses and feed cakes
  4. Fat: Oil seeds and their cakes
  5. Vitamins/Minerals: green fodder
  6. Fibre: Fodder crops – lack of fibre leads to constipation

Green Fodder:
While cutting the fodder crops, keep in mind that they should be cut during the flowering stage (or just before flowering). Young plants are full of water…… flowering stage is best…… yielded plants – all nutrients are in seeds/fruits

Annual crops: sow once – cut once then sow seeds again……
Perennial crops: sow once – cut multiple times

Annual Monocot examples: African tall maize, maize, bajra, oats
Perennial Monocot examples: Guinea grass, Rhodes grass, Co.F.S 29 jowar, napier

Annual Dicot examples: Cowpea. Horsegram, velvet beans
Perennial Dicot examples: Lucerne, Hedge Lucerne, Stylosanthesis

Dray fodder:
Almost same varieties, dried so that about 75% nutrients remain in the crop, water components evaporate.

Concentrate feed:
Monocot: Maize, wheat, rice, bajra, ragi, millet
Dicot: coverings of various grams, groundnut cake, cotton seed cake, coconut cake

The mixture ratio rule is --> 60% monocot + 40% dicot for all variety (green, dry or conc mix)

I was told it is better to milk while you give the conc feed.

Now let us know about calculating the feeding quantity:

Feed is given for 2 reasons

  1. Body maintainence
  2. Production of milk

Maintenance approx. – 1.5 to 2 kgs
Production of milk: 1 kg for producing 2.5ltr milk (in cows)
                              During pregnancy add 0.5kg upto 6 months and add 1kg from 7th month
Self growth: Add about 0.5kg extra for young cows

I have taken an example for a cow yielding 15ltrs of milk

Milk production only: 8 kgs
a. Maintenance : 2kg
b. Milk production : 6kg (which is 15/2.5)
Pregnant cows: 8kgs as per above calculation plus
a. Add 0.5kg upto 6 months = 8.5kgs
b. Add 1kg from 7th month = 9kgs

Simple formula to calculate: 50% of milk production in a day + pregnant feed + self growth
Which is for 15ltrs a day: 7.5 kgs + preg feed + about 0.5 to 1kg additional

1 Like

Artificial insemination:

This is a very important topic and needs lot of live examples, unfortunately I do not have the pictures. But I will try and list out a few characteristics of how to identify the animal in heat (ready to cross)

I want to quote a statement here – “There is no production without reproduction”

Heat cycle is in the interval of 21days and animals are ready for crossing only during this period which lasts for about 1.5days average. If you miss the heat period, then you have to wait for next cycle - 21days later.

Unlike us, human beings, cows are not always ready to cross and the process happens only during the heat period.

A simple theory for calculation:
Imagine the cow has delivered a calf today – 0th week

0th week – calf delivery
8th – 12th week : cross the cow (artificial insemination)
Chk if the next heat cycle comes or not…. If yes, consult vet and cross again……
36th – 40th week: stop milking (use correct process – reduce water content, reduce milking and stop)
52nd week – next calf….

Remember artificial success rate is only about 36% (approx.) and the week calculations vary accordingly. It is advised to confirm pregnancy and if not success, then do crossing again in next heat period.

Identification of heat period:
• Restlessness
• Mounting on other animals
• Allowing other animals to mount
• Spike of hairs near tail
• Keep following other animals
• Resting chin on other animals
• Reddening of anus (due to higher blood circulation)
• Mucus type discharge from the tail (thick discharge = right time for insemination)
• Starts mooing about 6 hrs prior

Do not delay the crossing process and miss the heat period
If heat attained in morning – same day cross
If heat attained in noon/evening – next day morning cross

If temperature is high (summers), keep the animal cool by letting them rest in shade/put wet gunny bag on shoulder
Ensure the animal is calm before and after semenation
Observe the behaviour for 6-8hrs
If it does not come to heat for next cycle, then success chances are high. Get examined to be sure.

dear all,

the next topic taught was how to take care of calves. I will be skipping this topic here as I myself had lots of doubts and I request you to take expert advice from your vets regarding this. Sorry for this, but I do not want to misguide; however a few points which I’m sure of, have been mentioned below:

Take help of a vet/expert to do the delivery
Allow the cow to lick the calf - this improves blood circulation
Give the first milk (colostrum) within 30mins of birth

Give milk till 3 months
do not expose it to extreme climate
Worm dose is very important - consult vet for duration
Start concentrate mixture feeding with milk from 15 days onwards - start very little and slowly increase

Very important to record the dates of its growth and any activity like first heat, worm dose dates etc…
skip 2-3 heat cycles before the artificial insemination first time