Calf Rearing Programme (CRP)

Profitable dairying requires professional farm management and superior nutrition. Dairy farmers in India often suffer economic losses because of higher calf mortality, delay in sexual maturity and higher Age at First Calving (AFC). On an average, it is assumed that the calf will come to puberty around 16-18 months of age and will become a dam for the first time around 30-34 month of age, if fed and managed scientifically. However, under field conditions, animal’s age at first calving is around 42-51 months in indigenous cow and 43-47 months in case of buffalo. Therefore, it is important to feed and manage calves scientifically in all stages of growth so that they grow at desired rate and attain early maturity. Against this backdrop, National Dairy Development Board has designed scientific calf rearing programme to reduce AFC in dairy animals, particularly in indigenous cows and buffaloes.

As part of the programme, specially designed ‘Pregnancy Feed’ with high protein, high energy, coated vitamins, anionic salts, and chelated minerals is offered to pregnant animals during last two months of the pregnancy. Post-calving, the new born calves are given highly nutritious ‘Calf Starter’ feed up to 6 months of age. Calf growth meal is given to calves after 6 months of age, until they reach advanced stage of pregnancy. Both the Calf Starter and Calf Growth Meal are manufactured using superior quality raw materials and specific additives that aid in the growth of the rumen, and assist in achieving optimal growth rates in calves.

CRP is being implemented in 7 milk unions in Gujarat, Punjab and Karnataka states under the technical assistance of NDDB. The impact of the programme is presented below.

  • The average birth weight was 15-20 per cent higher and female calf mortality was 50 per cent lower in the experimental group compared to the control group.
  • The average daily body weight gain by female calves in first 12 months in the experimental group was 442, 528 & 653 g for Kankrej, Murrah and Crossbred calves respectively, which was about 40% higher than the control group.
  • Average age at puberty in the experimental group was found 18, 17 and 12 months for Kankrej, Murrah and Crossbred calves, respectively.
  • The average AFC was 30, 29 and 24 months for Kankrej, Murrah and Crossbred heifers, respectively.