“Our cows don’t tell a lie” was written on a big billboard while entering Bali (City of Indonesia) during 2014 and it relates to why there is light at the end of tunnel. I was with my friend, Rizwan, to explore the city in the next 4 days. The billboard reminded us of our own dairy farm business back in Pakistan, and we both laughed that someday our own milk brand will be displayed in our country.
My Dairy Farm Business
Let me share a story of our dairy farm business. It was November 2012 when my friend and I decided to start our own dairy farm. We surveyed various dairy farms to get some knowledge about the breeds, shed structure, and operating costs associated with this business.
In the end, we opted to go with the best breed i.e. Holstein Frisian. I tried to gather some funds from my brother and father. After succeeding in doing that, we were all set for the practical implementation of our plan.
We placed 25 cattle from Australia, and my friend went there for the pre-shipment inspection. The animals arrived at our dairy farm, located in Depalpur, in March 2013. We were super excited to experience how our cattle will perform. As per our meticulously prepared business plan, we were expecting a high profit with each passing year. It was one of the best experiences to see the number of calves and farms increasing in late 2013.
2013 was the year of experimentation, and we were challenged with the problem of cattle losing the ability to conceive after the first conception. Since we needed to have more female calves, we relied heavily on Artificial Insemination (artificially injecting the sexed semen in the uterus to conceive). The AI results failed badly, and the conception rate wasn’t more than 30%.
We contacted everyone in this sector, and after a lot of contemplation, we finally decided to purchase a breeding bull to do the job. Consequently, the pregnancy rates increased to 65%, but 35% of the cows were still unable to get pregnant.
One can control the circumstances to a certain level, but unforeseen situations cannot be avoided. But, determination and hard work are always in our hands, and these qualities always pay off.
So, our farm milk production was an average of 28 liters per head, which was way better than the other farms.
Even though the herd size was increasing, we were getting impatient. By mid-2014, we wanted to grow faster and expand this business. To do that, we purchased 15 heifers from a farm that was closing down due to lack of funds. As a result, the herd size increased with the heifers, and we again implemented an Artificial Insemination procedure to get the best breed out of these. The results were very positive, and 70% of the herd got pregnant through AI. Now we were focusing more on the food quality and the animals’ health to make our business prosper.
But there were some more hurdles in the way of our business. When I came back from Bali’s trip, the doctor from our dairy farm called me to discuss something serious. After my inquiry, I found out that, unfortunately, the pregnant cows have started aborting in the 4th month of their pregnancy.
Upon hearing the news, I got sad but not disappointed. In February 2015, 15 cases were reported, and things started messing up a great deal. Nobody understood the cause, and we sent the blood samples of the affected cows to well-reputed laboratories for examination. It was revealed that the 27 cattle were suffering from Brucellosis Abortus. I was worried, the time spent and money invested in this business was humungous. I was ready to give up at that point and then started the journey of worrisome days and sleepless nights.
You Need To Trust Yourself and You start believing that there is light at the end of tunnel
Everyone around me was beginning to lose hope. People suggested that the business should be closed down before more damage occurs. The pressure for the closure was building up, especially when Rizwan gave up and said, “It is quite difficult to manage under the existing circumstance.”
But nothing seemed to convince me and I told Rizwan that I could still see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was ready to go to any lengths to make our dream come true. Moreover, it is my belief that as long as there is some level of progress, the desired goal is achievable.
I was sure that if we will remain vigilant and consistent in our efforts to increase the herd, we will succeed because we had already understood that in this business, the money is not in the milk production; it lies in the growth no matter how steady it is.
And every successful business must consider growth as the parameter towards success.
We culled all our suffering animals and secured some amount. As I mentioned, never lose heart until you have tried with all your heart. Leaving things incomplete was never my cup of tea. I have always said to my friends, never leave a movie during the interval; just watch it till the end as long as suspense is there.
Then, we again placed an order for 8 crossbreeds (able to take heat stress more and get pregnant easily) animals, this time with the same amount of money we had gained by selling the animals.
On the other hand, we aimed at ensuring the female calves’ growth to become grown heifers in 13 months of their birth by closely monitoring their weight and getting them pregnant as soon as possible. This technique worked very well during 2016 but caused us great monitorial loss, but that did not impede the herd’s increasing size. By the end of 2017, the farm was able to afford its own monthly expenses.
By the end of 2018, we had cleared all our debts and we kept growing. Then, it was in June 2019 when we invested again on the infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of heifers. Today, we have 102 animals, including 89 cows to heifers/female calves (of all age groups) and 13 bulls.
We all are responsible for our growth. Also, one should always pursue their dreams with every ounce of strength in their bones regardless of all the discouraging remarks and negative energies that people radiate our way because, as Tony Gaskins says
“If you don’t build your dream someone will hire you to help build theirs”.