India moves to protect world s largest dairy herd

The country’s first dairy code will help address the suffering of animals in dairy farming - one of India’s greatest animal welfare challenges.
India moves to protect world s largest dairy herd

A new national code of practice for dairy farming will help to improve the welfare of over 50 million dairy animals in commercial facilities across the country. The move will also help increase productivity and profitability for India’s dairy farmers.

The country’s first dairy code will help address the suffering of animals in dairy farming – one of India’s greatest animal welfare challenges.

A growing number of the country’s 300 million dairy animals – collectively the world’s largest herd – are living in intensive farming systems in overcrowded, barren conditions causing the animals’ immense suffering.

World Animal Protection has played a key advisory role in the development of the guidelines, during a two year consultation working alongside the National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI). The National Dairy Development Board, the Animal Husbandry Department, the Animal Welfare Board of India and individual dairy farmers have also contributed to the guidelines.

The National Code of Practices for Management of Dairy Animals in India, covers all aspects of the industry from advice on breeding and husbandry, through to guidance on how animals should be fed and housed. Basic hygiene, sanitation and guidance on record keeping is also included.

Mike Baker, CEO of World Animal Protection said, “This code is a ground breaking achievement, but this is just the beginning. We are calling on dairy farmers to take action and implement these new practices. We know, healthy dairy animals who are well cared for, live longer and produce more milk – so farmers who make positive changes to protect their animals are also helping their businesses.”

Dr A K Srivastava, Director and Vice-Chancellor of the NDRI, who has been a strong supporter of the project said, “In our country we have about 140 million hectares of cultivable land so we need to plan effectively to ensure the optimum utilization of our resources in a sustainable manner. We also have other challenges including new emerging diseases due to cross breeding practices. The code will go some way towards helping address these problems, benefiting not only dairy animals but our entire society, helping both animals and people live healthier, happier lives.”

Gajender K Sharma, India Country Director for World Animal Protection, said, “We are working to protect dairy animals, because like all animals they deserve a life worth living. In the future, we will continue to work alongside the NDRI as farmers begin to implement these guidelines, improving the health and welfare of their animals, while also increasing productivity and profitability within the industry.”

The guidelines were launched at an event held at Anand Agriculture University, Anand, Gujarat on 10 October.

Dr M L Kamboj, Principal Scientist at NDRI and author of the code, said, “Human welfare has always been a subject of discussion and concern, but when it comes to animals; their welfare issues are often unheard and compromised. This code of practice will help put concerns of dairy animals into perspective. We all agree with the fact that animal productivity and animal welfare are closely related, so with the code being implemented by dairy farmers, we should see a healthy change in the lives and productivity of these animals.”

Dr. N C Patel, Vice- Chancellor from Anand Agriculture University (AAU), said, “This document is very comprehensive. It has covered all aspects relating to the dairy sector and I’m pleased to hear of the initiatives of NDRI and World Animal Protection in developing this. I would now like to see it translated not only into Hindi but also into Gujarati so we can reach as many farmers as possible.”

Dr. Shiv Prasad, Assistant Director General of ICAR, said, “In India, until this point, dairy farmers have not had any guiding principles and no uniform method of practice. With this national code in place, we aim to bridge this gap. We are asking farmers to adopt the code and to use more efficient methods to manage their dairy herds. This will help establish good welfare standards for animals, ensuring proper health and hygiene of the herd, and in turn will improve milk production.”

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