In a dairy farm, female calves are a bonus but male ones are a liability.
During the Christmas break, we had a half-day exchange of ideas with an agripreneur who is experienced in corn production, commercial beef and dairy cattle, bangus and tilapia culture, and some lesser ventures.
Now that he has set up his major agribusinesses so that one of his sons can more or less take care of their operations, he wanted to start something new that will be interesting for him to do and profitable, too.
Let us just call him Tommy. He is now In his mid-60s and he likes to do something different from his present projects. We suggested that he try high-value vegetables. There are, of course, so many choices of crops and each one has its own particular advantages and disadvantages.
I was more interested to know more about his dairy project which was started with 200 breeders from the government some years ago. Every animal he received was to be replaced with two offspring.
The present state of dairying if you sell your fresh milk to a trader is not really profitable because the usual price is P30 per liter from the farm, according to Tommy. You have to process the milk into products with added value to increase profits.
He pointed out that feeds are not cheap if you yourself don’t produce everything you feed to the animals. Each dairy cow, Tommy said, eats 30 to 35 kilos of feed every day. For 200 cows, that means feed consumption of 7,000 kilos daily. Even just at a cost of P5 per kilo of silage, that’s P35,000 worth of feed every day.
It would be good if the supply is available any time of the year. Once the supply is erratic, that would be a big problem. Tommy admits that his cows produce only 10 to 12 liters a day which is lower than the 14 and more liters for other dairymen. But he thinks he is doing better than those with higher milk production but who buy their feeds. In his case, he produces his own feed with Pakchong 1 napier at P1 per kilo. So that makes a lot of difference.
Another bonus is the offspring, particularly if the calf is female that could be raised for breeding. The male calf is a liability as far as Tommy is concerned because if he does not dispose of it after birth, it will consume milk of its mother. Even if it is weaned right away, bottle feeding the male calf is laborious and expensive.