Currently, dairy cattle raising is becoming popular and seems to guarantee the most promising future of all agricultural occupations. The government has specified and ensured an exact purchasing price while the technology in raising these dairy cattle has been standardized. Moreover, the location of Thailand is at the center of all transportations in ASEAN that enables our country to transport and sell milk to other neighboring countries and these recently developed countries are in need of milk consumption. More importantly is the attitude of the animal raisers themselves. They should be more open-minded, acquire new and up-to-date body of knowledge while utilizing these raising techniques for further improvement of their farm. Accordingly, this is deemed a good opportunity for dairy cattle farmers or anyone who is interested in this profession since nowadays Thailand has a total of 250,000 milk cows and can produce raw milk at the amount accommodating only 30-40 percent of total consumer demand. In the near future, demand of raw milk will definitely increase as Thailand will become a major manufacturing base in ASEAN. At present, our production capacity can respond to domestic demand only; therefore, we must breed more than 300,000 cow milks to solve this problem. Dairy cattle farming is thus, one of the careers with the the most promising future that can guarantee you with sustainable growth and security. This issue of Land Animals Magazine would like to introduce you to Khun Petchpana Angsakul (Khun Petch), a talented lady and the owner of “Prateung Farm”, located in Muak Lek subdistrict, Saraburi. Prateung Farm is a good quality farm that distributes raw milk to Thai-Denmark Dairy Cattle Cooperatives Lamphaya Klang Company Limited in which Khun Petch herself has become a member of this cooperative as well.
Model farm of hybrid dairy cattle
At present, “Prateung Farm” has been supported by Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand to become “dairy cattle farming model” where farmers and general public are always welcomed to learn about raising technique of dairy cattle and farm management in order that they can employ such knowledge and apply it in real life situation in accordance with international standard.
Khun Petchpana or “Khun Petch” is the second generation who has run “Prateung Farm” for 8 years since 2010. Khun Petch has continued the farming business from her mother who began it more than 20 years ago. Khun Petch’s educational and professional background is no ordinary. Her bachelor’s degree was in biotechnology in which she graduated from Rungsit University and her master’s degree in postharvest technology from King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi. She used to work in the Purchasing Department of one of the largest consumer products company in the country. The main reason she quitted her day-to-day job and furthered her family’s business is her aging mother.
Khun Petchpana started the farming business with zero knowledge in this field. She relied only on the knowledge and insight her mother had given while at the same time she made some inquiries to gain insight from other experienced professional and she had self-studied and attended the program initiated by Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand. The programs include milking cow technique and artificial insemination. Khun Petchpana gradually developed and furthered the farming business, from 100 cows in the past to 250 milk cows at present. She then decided to expand her farm and improve the housing condition to be even cleaner, more open to facilitate the air flow that in turn will stimulate all the milk cows to produce high quality raw milk.
The breeds commonly found at Prateung Farm are mainly the hybrids of Thai Fresian, Jersey and Brown Swiss as these three breeds yield high quality raw milk.
The dairy cattle farming encompasses the total area of 100 rais, including the pasture area where grass such as guinea and napier have been planted as roughages to feed the cows. For housing and farm management, the farm is divided according to the age group of the dairy cattle; for example, housing for cows with lactation period and those with dry period, housing for fresh cows and cows up to 3 months old, housing for cows 4-6 months old and housing for weaning cattle (7-12 months old). Nonetheless, Prateung Farm has mainly employed artificial insemination that has been supported and closely monitored by the animal husbandry expert from Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand while emphasizing on using probiotic coupled with the feeds’ recipe. Therefore, the quality of raw milk produced here is a plus…plus…plus
In producing raw milk with the quality and standard acceptable by Thai-Denmark Dairy Cattle Cooperatives Lamphaya Klang Company Limited, Khun Petchpana has specifically selected raw materials for animal feeds produced by Siam Agri Supply Company Limited, a major distributor, importer and exporter of complete raw materials for animal feeds. The formula used in the feeds is “Biotic Max 1”, a probiotic with added microorganisms that help balance the alimentary system of dairy cattle, stimulate their growth and appetite while increasing the daily productivity of each cow.
Khun Petchpana told us that she employed “Biotic Max 1” in accordance with the formula given by Siam Agri Supply, coupled with her own invention. Such formula is based primarily on the program designed and calculated by Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand. Major ingredients include soybean meal, wheat bran, brewer’s grain, tapioca chip, salt and other minerals with high nutritional value for dairy cattle at each age group.
“I started using “Biotic Max 1” not long ago. Personnally, I prefer to use probiotic which seems good for me. I had tried them all. Siam Agri Supply’s products are high quality products as I have noticed the changes after “Biotic Max 1” has been introduced. Our dairy cattles are healthier and their excretory system has been improved tremendously. Their hair is shiny and beautiful. In addition, these cows yield raw milk with higher quality. The staffs of Siam Agri Supply had provided us with excellent after-sales service. They also gave us useful suggestions and treat us lkie their friends and families.”
As for the secret in raising healthy dairy cattle and milking technique that enhances the quality of raw milk according to the purchasing standard of Dairy Farming Promotion Organization of Thailand, Khun Petchpana suggested that the most important factor is the loving and care of the raisers themselves. Regarding farm management, she has consistently emphasized on providing her cows with suitable feeds for each age group and physical condition since the body of a milk cow directly relates to the amount of fat stored in its body. Thus, it is significant to acknowledge the physical condition of the dairy cattle whether they are thin or fat, especially at the end of their milking period and dry period to maintain healthy body and normal reproductive system that enables the highest quality milk subsequently.
Nevertheless, the body of a cow will change according to its productivity and the amount of feed provided during post pregnancy as the milk cow’s weight will drop, making it difficult to yield sufficient milk and its body may somewhat deteriorate which in turn may pose an impact on its breeding afterwards. In terms of daily farm management, Prateung Farm has a total of 10 workers in which the duty has been appropriately allocated, starting from very early in the morning (4.00 a.m.) Four workers start their morning routine in the housing to feed the cows whereas the other six are responsible for milking cow. Khun Petchpana herself will be accountable for checking up the cows’ health and as soon as she notices something wrong, she will immediately resolve such problem like breast infection. Khun Petchpana will prevent such disease in due time while strictly adhering to the standard specified; for example, cleaning the stables, getting rid of cows’ droppings out of the housing and drying them under the sun to subsequently sell it to vendors. In addition, she will use clean water mixed with sterilized solution to cure breast infection.
After the milking process is complete, Khun Petchpana will let the cows graze for an hour to close their dug and to minimize breast infection. “After the milk cows have given birth to their babies, their body score will drop instantly and this will affect their growth, milking and reproduction process etc. Consequently, cow raisers must pay attention to the raising technique and feeds provided, starting from the early age and must continue at every age group. If you have taken good care of your milk cows, they can provide you will raw milk up to 10-12 years before dismissal. We must treat our daily cattle with great care since they are born and generally, when the cows are 15 months old, they can reproduce and when they are 2 years of age, the milking process can then start. Cow raisers must notice the cows’ growth performance and fertility; for example, after the milk cows have given birth to their first baby, it must be no later than 28 months that we must take good care of these cows or else it will be useless and cow raisers cannot fully benefit from the raising.”, Khun Petchpana added. The most outstanding quality of dairy cattle will be evaluated by its body condition score (BSC) which must not be lower than 3.3.5
Emphasis on food quality and housing standard…a key to farming sustainability
In terms of marketing and distribution channel, Prateung Farm currently produces 1,800 kg/day or raw milk and sell to Thai-Denmark Dairy Cattle Cooperatives Lamphaya Klang Company Limited at a price in compliance with the standard certified by the members of the cooperatives. The cooperatives have classified the quality and standard of raw milk in Thailand into different levels in which level 4 means the highest quality milk, with butter fat no less than 3.5 percent and milk protein should not be less than 2.8 percent.
When asking about the obstacles in the management of the dairy farming, Khun Petchpana told us that raising milk cows is somewhat difficult and somewhat easy, it mainly depends on your heart, patience, care and attentiveness of the raisers themselves. Major obstacles include the maintenance factor; for example, how to prevent the cows from being sick. The anser lies in that you must regularly clean and maintain a good air condition of your housing to ensure its cleanliness. The farmers must be open-minded and keep nourishing their cows with finished food, roughages, concentrates and supplementary food to ensure that they are strong, healthy and yield raw milk of highest quality. For current economic situation, it does not have a specific impact on dairy farming. Khun Petchpana continued that every drop of milk produced here will be carefully inspected before market distribution. In addition, our selling price has been verified and guaranteed by the cooperatives. In the future, Khun Petchpana plans to renovate the housing area but she expected that the number of milk cows will remain unchanged. She will emphasize on thorough management while simultaneously maintaining the standard of the farm and raw milk. Lastly, Khun Petchpana had provided some suggestions to the dairy farmers that “Dairy farming is the occupation gracefully granted by His Majest the Late King. It is a sustainable occupation. The most important factor is the attitude of the farmers. Farmers of the new era must open up their heart, try to learn new things and apply dairy farming techniques and the body of knowledge to further their own farm.”