The indigenous cows found in Bangladesh are of the small Zebu type with a mature body weight of 150 to 180 kg, having a production capacity of about 250 litres milk per year, with only about 5 months lactation period. The first calf is born when the mother is three or four years old. Thereafter calving intervals are around 18 months, but may be further delayed if adequate nutrition is not provided or if the cow is used for draught purpose. Some improved healthy cows are seen around urban areas and in the Baghabarighat area where winter grazing land is available, and where local cows have been crossed with the superior Hariana, Sahiwal or Sindhi breeds. These crosses may yield up to 750 litres per lactation.
After the Chernobyl disaster in former Soviet Union, import of milk powder or milk products from European countries was banned temporarily by the Bangladesh Government in 1987. This, together with the increasing price of milk in the global market, resulted in a new awareness about the need of self-sufficiency in milk production in the country. Taking advantage of the favourable government policy, a large number of private entrepreneurs came forward to establish mini-dairy farms in urban and sub-urban areas. Table shows the number of small-scale dairy farms established during 1990-1996.
At present, there are many registered small-dairy farms in the country. These farms may have 5-200 cows of which 20% are local (average 1.5 litres milk/head/d) and 80% crossbred (5.5 litres milk/head/d) type. These farms are generally well managed but mostly rely on purchased feed (both roughage and concentrate). They used to be profitable with benefit cost ratio of 1:1.03 and provided employment opportunity of about 650 man-days annually. However, reports of closing down of many of these farms are known. For example, in BOGRA, out of 201 registered small-scale organised farms, 147 have already been shut down due to problems of milk marketing and higher maintenance costs.
Table Trends in the increase of the number of dairy farms established during 1990-1996
Years Dairy Firms
Farms having more than 200 milking cows and land to cultivate fodder are categorised as large farms. These are mainly of two types, government owned, and private sector farms. Most large-scale farms are governments.