Providing hygienic housing to cows to ensure their comfort and natural behavior is important. Generally, while constructing a cow or buffalo house what is required for the cow is ignored. Defects in cow housing leave long-lasting health and production problems. In 2006-2008, the old concept of loose housing was revived as an experiment at the Bombay Veterinary College, and the model was taken to the farmers with the help of dairy cooperatives such as Govind Dairy, Sangamner Dudh Sangh, and Chitale Dairy.
In order to know if the farmers are satisfied with this new system and to know what innovations the farmers have added, Indiancattle.com organized an ‘All Maharashtra competition’ under the banner, Low-Cost-High on Comfort Loose Housing’. Vetoquinol, a leading multi-national pharma company agreed to sponsor the prizes as product gift hampers.
A judging committee was constituted under the Chair of Dr. D. V. Rangnekar, Former Senior Vice-President BAIF and Consultant NDDB who has a long experience in research on Technology Transfer; Prof. Abdul Samad, Former Dean and DI, MAFSU, who is a pioneer in popularizing the new system; Dr. A. U. Bhikane, a well-known field researcher and Director of Extension, MAFSU, Dr. Vinod Honalikar, a respected senior veterinarian practicing herd medicine and Former Deputy Director of AH, Maharashtra and Dr. Vijay Muley, Marketing Manager, Vetequinol.
Based on the norms of loose housing a scoring card was developed and the farmers were informed about the scoring criteria.
The farmers were asked to send 4 images of the farm, covering areas, such as the floor, shed if any, facilities of feeders, and water bowl. A total of 188 farmers across the state participated in the competition.
The entries were screened in the first round and 30 entries were selected for the video round wherein the farmers sent 2-3 minutes videos describing their cowhouses.
From the second-round entries, 18 were selected for the final round wherein the judging Committee interacted with the farmers
Almost all the farmers endorsed that the loose housing system is best suited to our climate. The most important benefit they described was ‘reduced work load’, no cases of mastitis, bare minimum diseases and vet visit, better fertility as heat detection was easy as the cows behaved normally. The cow’s cleanliness index was very high and they rested and enjoyed the open sky freedom.
The Committee based on the cost and the cow comfort parameters judged the farm of Mr. Yogesh Bomble eligible for the first prize. In the Desi cow farm category, the farm of Mr. Sachin Tamhane was judged worthy of the first prize. The farms of Mr. Kundlik Vishnu Pawar, Mr. Vitthal Shamrao Patil, And Mr. Vijay Baban Pawar were judged eligible for the second prize and Mr. Vitthal Sonavale, Mr. Vitthal Agwane, Mr. Sandip Dyandev Pawar, Mr. Dyaneshwar Bapu Sarak, Mr. Makrand Patil, Mr. Vikram Dhanaji Pawar, Mr. Laxman Nimbalkar and Mr. Shivaji Lavate received the third prize.
The competition proved that this kind of exercise is necessary to judge the performance of a new system of technology in the field. The indiancattle.com hopes that many more farmers will adopt this simple housing system and reap many benefits.