top of page
  • Writer's pictureDr. P.K. Shrivastava


Updated: Dec 8, 2021

(the article examines the reason and suggests the remedial measures)

Author: Dr PK Shrivastava, Dairy Business Guru, M/s Dairy Consultancy India, Bangalore

It is more than 2 decade (from 1997), when India surpassed USA in milk production to become the largest milk producing country in the world. Though India is second to US in cow milk production in the world. Means the top position of India in milk production in the world is due to adding the buffalo milk with cow milk production. Majority of Indian dairy houses do not maintain separate line for cow and buffalo milk, as a result whatever comes to the consumer is mostly a mixed milk or product from a mixed milk. Most of the developed countries do not have the buffaloes, as such they maintain only the data of cow & cow milk.

In India milk production is by masses not a mass production, mainly by the small, marginal farmers and landless laborers. “Low input low output” model is followed in India and almost all dairy houses procure milk from these small & marginal farmers and landless laborers.

India is also No.1 country by number of cattle and buffaloes in the world. As of 2020, number of cattle and buffaloes in India was 305,500 thousand heads that accounts for 33.38% of the world's number of cattle and buffalo population of 915,275 thousand heads in 2020. The top 5 countries (India, Brazil, China, USA and Argentina) account for 87.55% of world’s cattle population.(

In view of above, let us ask ourselves; why India is lowest in per animal per lactation milk yield (refer Figure 1) after 24th year of leading the world in milk production?

Figure 1: Per animal, per lactation/ per day milk production (‘000 litres/litres)

Source: Statista By

Blue bar represents per day average milk production (in litres) by different types of milch animals in India and green bar represents the per animal per lactation milk yield (in ‘000 litres) in Figure-1.

Figure 2: Milk yield per animal per lactation in 16 countries

Figure 2, shows the per animal per day/ per lactation milk yield in the world. It is evident from the data that while USA tops the list (10189 litres), Japan (8465 litres), UK (8140 litres) are much higher compared to India, which has an average of 1318 litres milk yield per lactation per animal, standing at 15th rank in the world. India is close to Pakistan (which follows almost similar dairy animal rearing system as India).

In our opinion, the main reasons for lower per animal (per day/ per lactation) productivity are;

(1) majority of farmers use “low input low output model”, of dairy farming

(2) average herd size per farmer in India is low between 2-4 animals

(3) Average land holding per farmer in India is 1.08 hectares (0.6 hectare small & marginal farmers)

(4) ignorance of medium & large farmers (>4 hectare) about available innovations in dairy industry

(5) low availability of subsidies schemes for large farm holding Agri-preneurs (above 100-500 animals),

(6) low or no incentive to farm-fresh milk by the dairy houses,

(7) low inclination of dairy houses to provide new technology to medium/ large herd dairy farms (except a few providing “testing aids” for Fat & SNF) and

(8) low availability of affordable technologies to be used at dairy farms.

According to the 10th agricultural census data released updated: 01 Oct 2018, 11:41 PM IST, (refer the mint &, the average land holding in India is 1.08 hectares (2.7 acres per farmers). There are about 150 million farmers, where small and marginal farmers account for 86.2% who owns 47.3% of operational crop land area. Small and marginal farmers# own 0.6 hectares (1.5 acres) of land only. If 86% of the operational crop land is owned by the small and marginal farmers, it is obvious that they can’t own large dairy animal herds?

As such, the only possibility left for these large number of small farmers to keep only small (2-3) animal herds and rear them on the available home agricultural residues. If that is the case, then the per animal per day or per lactation yield is justified as shown in the figure 1 below. Further, these farmers would not become stand alone dairy entrepreneurs, rather they will help by pouring the produce to the big dairy houses and earn their livelihood. They would hesitate to invest into high yielding animals, as it would be difficult to feed large herd and the capital investment would not be possible. Due to the less farm holding they would not be having sufficient land to cultivate green fodder for the medium and large herds, as well.

We understand that the above are the reasons that Govt floats maximum subsidies for small and marginal farmers and landless laborers to enable them to keep small herd and pour milk to the big dairy houses and earn livelihood.

Affording innovations, automation and latest technologies are far reaching subject for these large percentage (close to 126 million according to the survey) of farmers of India. India has to live with its small-sized farms for the next two decades and the way out is to provide them access to the best technology and markets, the way China did it," says Ashok Gulati, an agriculture chair professor at the New Delhi-based Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations (ICRIER).

Another reason for low productivity is attributed to the low availability of frozen semen doses and need for improving services to improve gynecological status of animals. The sizable number of female animals remain un-bred and remain as dry animals. This is either due to; (1) sub-standard quality of semen, (2) missed proper heat for insemination, (3) less availability of frozen semen doses and (4) un-healthy genitals of animals. In India generally the para-vet (the artificial inseminator) decides the semen variety & quality to breed the animals, not the farmers. The farmers have to agree for the insemination of animals with the available frozen semen dose, as they may not want to miss the heat. Another fact is that more than 2 doses are needed to make one animal pregnant (it loses almost a month period for the animal to become pregnant).

The gynecological status of animals also contributes (Many of the bread-able animals do not come in heat or conceive even in more than 2 inseminations). Such animals turn to a repeat breeder (RB). The RB is mainly due to the negative energy balance feeding (under feeding), mineral deficiencies, less post-parturient care & treatment, etc., as the proper feeding and treatment costs a lot for these small herd owning farmers.

Figure 3: Distribution of cattle & buffalo females in-milk, dry and un-bred categories

Figure 3 clarifies that 19.08 million Exotic/CB cow, 30.47 million IND/ND cows and 49.4 million buffalo (total 99 million take 30% of these as females- that is about 30 million female animals) remain un-bred. It is a huge number. If the parameter like; (a) making available sufficient good quality frozen semen doses (b) improving timely availability of AI services at farmer's door step, (c) increasing number of able AI-inseminators, (d) providing affordable post-parturient care & treatment of delivering mothers, the per animal / per lactation milk yield would improve a lot.

In a report, NDRI Karnal’s magazine says “Paradoxically, the coverage of AI in India has remained as only a meagre 30% of the breed-able cattle and buffalo population. To achieve the targeted milk production, a total number of 97.45 million bovines are being aimed for artificial breeding by 2020-21, which requires 201.65 million frozen semen doses as compared to the present production of 115.4 million (2016-17). The number of bulls required for production of the above-mentioned doses of semen for artificial insemination will be about 9000 (Rastriya Gokul Mission National Action Plan 2016- 2020-2024) as compared to the number of 4158 during 2016-17 (NDDB)”. Source:

If 86.2% are small and marginal farmers, the onus of improving per animal milk production lies on the shoulders of medium & large farm land holders (as they would have the sufficient resources to rear medium and large herds of dairy animals with adoption of automation, innovation and improved technologies). The Govt should provide support through special schemes for these farmers to come forward and join hand in improving the per animal per lactation milk yield of India.

When out of 46.95 million Exotic/CB female cows only 25.67 million (55%) are in-milk, of 98.17 million of IND/ND female cows only 51.17 million (52%) are in-milk, of 101 million buffaloes only 38.1 million (38%) are in-milk and when the overall artificial insemination of India stands at 30%, how one can expect a better per animal productivity in India? Source:

The central & state Govt are very positive towards improving these short falls, they came out whole heatedly through various schemes (like; Rastriya Gokul Mission, 2006-16 and 2016-24. AHIDF, etc.), however, the efforts are yet to be seen on the ground.


(2) #Various category of farmers: (marginal <1 hectare, small 1-2 hectare, semi medium 2-4 hectares, medium 4-10 hectares and large >10 hectares)


The Author of this article is Dr PK Shrivastava. Dairy Business Guru, M/s Dairy Consultancy India, Bangalore; email:

115 views0 comments


bottom of page