A sustainable model for safe milk production

By TheHindu on 05 Nov 2017 | read

Kottur grama panchayat in Kozhikode district is making it to the list of many firsts in the State.

The panchayat was the first in the State to propose a comprehensive project for enhancing milk production through people’s planning. It is also home to the Narayamkulam cluster for safe milk production and protection of animal health, the first such cluster in the State.

It was in August this year the panchayat launched its ‘Mission Safe Milk’ programme with focus on hygienic cattle farming and milk production. But it was not an easy task for the panchayat and officials of the veterinary hospital.

“We started with imparting lessons on personal hygiene to those who milked cows. Their health was first ensured at a medical camp, after which they were trained in methods to keep milk clean,” said Bineesh P.P., veterinary officer. This was a hard task given the pathetic state of cattle sheds. But now, Kottur has two state-of-the-art cattle sheds, and the panchayat is planning to set up more such facilities.

Officials had earlier noted that poor sanitation in and around cattle sheds was the prime reason for the spread of dengue fever among farmers. Moreover, milk production in the panchayat was adversely hit as several farmers remained bed-ridden.

To address the issue, a special composting method was adopted for cow dung, while separate channels were built inside the sheds to prevent urine and dung from getting mixed. The clear urine thus collected in a tank is used as manure. A separation wall was set up for animals to prevent spread of infection.

Milking is done at a ‘milking parlour’ outside the cattle shed to avoid contamination of milk. Veterinary-healthcare-safe milk boxes have been kept in the sheds to stock necessary medicines and personal hygiene kits of milkers.

The panchayat recently honoured Model Dairy Woman (MDW) and Model Dairy Man (MDM) Usha Thandappurathu and Balakrishnan Kunnathu respectively. The panchayat now aims to become the first local body in the State to have branded milk products, Dr. Bineesh said.

However, the excessive use of antibiotics on cattle is a matter of concern. “Farmers often do not consult doctors before purchasing antibiotics for their cows when they fall sick. The animals eventually become resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, the milk will have residues of antibiotics,” Dr. Bineesh added.

The safest option is not to use milk for at least a week after consumption of antibiotics. But it will cause huge loss to rural farmers. “The greatest danger is the milk thus produced, when consumed by humans, will cause antibiotic resistance in them too,” he added.

Meanwhile, efforts are on to create awareness among farmers in Kottur. The Government Veterinary Officers’ Association has submitted a few recommendations to the State government for safeguarding public health, one of which is prevention of antibiotic resistance.

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