I have an involvement with a 600 cow dairy in Sudan a consultancy basis. It is an interesting farm and an interesting aspect of my job.
I recently returned from a short trip there. 45deg C but a dry heat. With good fans and misters, it is possible to provide a comfortable environment for the cows. But heat stress is a big problem. Cows pant rather than chew their cuds. This has effects on rumen health as they don’t produce as much saliva to buffer the rumen acids. They also stand for longer (while they pant) – this has bad effects on feet as more sole bruising.
Calves can dehydrate particularly quickly if they have scour, and pneumonia is a big problem. So, the challenges are great.
However, the opportunities are great too. Milk, ghee, yoghurts and cheese are all in high demand in Sudan. The factory can’t produce enough! Milk powder is an unreliable source and costs a lot to import, requiring foreign currency. Therefore, producing fresh milk locally is a big incentive to get things right.
On the positive side, alfalfa can be grown and dried very well – this makes a great base to the diet. The farm has just clamped its first crop of maize (which looks OK). Water is available from bore-holes and is not in short supply (the farm is close to the Nile, and in any case, when it rains, it rains hard). Labour is readily available and cheap.
On the more challenging side, everything needs to be imported. There is no local infrastructure, so if there is a problem with the parlour, or the Keenan breaks down, it is not such an easy task to fix it. Sourcing simple things like veterinary medicines, vaccines, dairy chemicals, even wellington boots, requires months of planning, permits, paperwork and huge expense. Then, whilst there is labour, there is a need for training. There is also a need to control petty theft (of milk, fuel, animal feed, wellies…!). Getting the diet right is difficult. These cows are Holsteins capable of 7500 litres easily, but only managing 5000 litres, and much of that is down to quality and inconsistencies.
Protecting the health of the herd is of course a challenge. FMD, Anthrax, Lumpy Skin Disease, Brucellosis – these all need consideration, as well as the regular diseases we see in UK (Johne’s, Lepto, BVD, IBR, Digital Dermatitis). Mastitis rates are low – only 15 cases per 100 cows per year – but cell counts are an unknown. the farm does not have a cell count machine and of course there are no milk recording organisations. There is only so far you can go with CMT testing viagra generique ligne.
But if I am asked what is the best thing about working with this herd, I would have to say the positivity. There is a “can do” attitude, and that goes a long way. Since my initial involvement 18 months ago, many things have been changed and improved, and that gives a huge job satisfaction not only for me but the whole team. A long way to go, yes, but I think we will get there…