AGRIC6: Dairy Production

This unit covers dairy production, milk secretion, trends and prospects for the dairy industry.

Dairy farming is a class of agriculture for long-term production of milk, which is processed (either on the farm or at a dairy plant, either of which may be called a dairy) for eventual sale of a dairy product.

Establishing a dairy herd; Routine management practices; Management of young and replacement stock; Reproductive management in a dairy herd; Feeding the dairy herd; Milk secretion, milking and milk quality

Importance of Dairy Production

Milk and dairy products play an important role in a healthy, balanced diet. They are rich sources of calcium which is easily absorbed by the body. This mineral, along with other nutrients present in dairy foods, such as protein, magnesium and phosphorus, is essential to build and maintain strong bones.

AGRIC6: Dairy Production 1Experience in sub-Saharan Africa shows that the following benefits can accompany profitable development of a countryʼs dairy industry;
  1. On-farm employment can be increased by dairying because it is a labor-intensive activity.
  2. Dairying can provide farmers with year-round income and help them diversify risk across enterprises.
  3. Development of the dairy sector can have important multiplier effects throughout the value chain from the farm to retail food stores.
  4. Milk-producing animals can make use of feeds that cannot be used directly by people.
  5. Expansion of a countryʼs dairy industry can improve a nationʼs food security and nutrition.
Experience in these same countries identifies challenges frequently encountered in efforts to foster profitable dairy development, including those noted below, which have particular relevance for Uganda:
• Marketing milk and dairy products is complex and expensive.
• The quality of milk and dairy products is difficult to maintain, particularly in hot climates.
• Milk is subject to many forms of contamination and adulteration

The Structure of Uganda’s Dairy Industry

Ugandaʼs informal market sector serves as a conduit for about 85 percent of the milk marketed in the country.
The formal sector—which includes conventional milk processing—handles about 15 percent of the milk.
Approximately 30 percent of the milk produced in Uganda is consumed on farms.
• Ugandaʼs dairy industry is labor intensive and pasture-based.
• Traditional cattle, mostly Ankole, make up about 85 percent of the cattle herd. These cattle produce only one
to two liters of milk per day. Higher producing mixed breeds and commercial herds make up the remaining
15 percent of the herd.
• Ugandaʼs dairy belt lies in the Western part of the country, distant from Kampala.
• The countryʼs milk assembly and production processes make it difficult for the industry to maintain milk and
dairy product quality.

Milk secretion

A second crucial point for milk production concerns the quantity and quality of the secreted milk. Milk is an emulsion of fat and water containing dissolved carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals that all have to be produced in or transported to the mammary gland.
During lactation, quantitative milk yield is primarily regulated by lactose within the alveoli. Alveolar lactose influences the osmotic pressure between blood and alveoli and thereby the amount of water drawn into the alveoli .
AGRIC6: Dairy Production 2Some of the substances in milk such as minerals, vitamins, or immune-globulins pass the cell membranes directly from the blood into the lumen via transporter proteins . The activity of these transporter proteins is increased when milk production starts to enhance the uptake of water into the secretory cells of the mammary gland.
Lactose is synthesized from blood glucose and galactose (synthesized from glucose) by a lactose synthase enzyme composed of galactosyltransferase and α-lactalbumin in the golgi complex of mammary secretory cells. The amount of glucose in the blood is regulated by energy intake, insulin and leptin .
Proteins and fat are important for qualitative milk yield in terms of organoleptic properties of the milk and down-
stream industries such as cheese and butter production. Caseins, α-lactalbumin and βlactoglobulin represent the main fraction of milk proteins. They are synthesized mainly from amino acids broken down from digested food and transported through the blood stream to the secretory cells (Burgoyne and Duncan, 1998). Milk fat is com-
posed of triglycerides, long- and short-chain fatty acids which are partly synthesized in the liver or in secretory cells of the mammary gland from short-chain dietary lipids that are obtained from the rumen, and partly from mobilized fats from bodily fat depots.
Lactation is coupled with changes in the activity of genes in the mammary gland but also in other organs. In the liver,
fat and glucose synthesis is highly increased from pregnancy to early lactation to provide fatty acids and blood glucose for milk production , whereas fat synthesis is decreased in adipose tissue and the expression of transporter genes for the uptake of blood glucose into somatic cells is reduced to ensure that nutrients are available
for milk production.
In conclusion, to understand the genetics behind a lactation cycle, a number of gene pathways need to be considered. These include genes regulating food intake and blood glucose levels; the digestion, absorption, and transportation of nutrients; the activity of the secretory cells in the mammary gland, liver, and adipose tissue; the synthesis of proteins and fat in the secretory cells; and the pathways which provide triglycerides, fatty and amino acids, transporter proteins, and transcription factors.
Genetics of Milk Production
The establishment of the Bos taurus genome assembly , along with proteome and gene expression studies, have made it possible to estimate the number of genes involved in milk production, from mammogenesis to milk secretion.
Between 6000 and 19,000 genes distributed across all 29 bovine autosomes and the X-chromosome have been reported to be differentially expressed during the lactation cycle, though not exclusively in the mammary gland (Lemay et al., 2009; Wickramasinghe et al., 2012). Thus, the genes predicted to be involved (directly or indirectly) in the regulation of milk production, account for between 25 and 75% of all predicted cattle genes.

Prospects for Ugandaʼs Dairy Industry

Ugandaʼs Dairy Corporation has been targeted for privatization, but its status is currently in limbo. The failure of the Finance Ministry to either privatize, or withdraw the privatization initiative has created difficulties for the industry.

Opportunities exist for firms in the formal sector to increase milk sales, but to do so they must demonstrate
that they provide good value to consumers. Consumers of milk from the informal sector pay half the price
charged in the formal sector.
Ugandaʼs Dairy Development Authority provides regulatory and dairy development services. However, the
agency appears to have insufficient resources for carrying out all the tasks that it has established for itself.
Challenges Facing Uganda’s Dairy Industry
Poor milk quality. Most milk is adulterated with added water. Milk is tested at receiving stations only
for specific gravity, a crude test for water adulteration. Pasteurized milk in Uganda has a very short shelf
life—only three to four days—because of microbial contamination, poor milk handling, and transportation
practices at the farm and manufacturing level.
Pronounced seasonality of milk production and consumption. More milk is produced during the rainy seasons than can be marketed in the formal market.
A large informal dairy sector that is largely unregulated.
Unreliable formal markets. Some farmers find it difficult to secure prompt payment for milk and milk is
refused at receiving stations during rainy seasons, forcing farmers to seek other outlets for their milk.
Large losses of milk in the production and marketing channels.

Opportunities for Uganda’s Dairy Industry

• Export markets and formal market sales of dairy products could be expanded.
• Processing facilities to handle seasonal milk surpluses could be built. This action would produce storable
products that would enhance Ugandaʼs food security.
• Processing facilities appear to be in place to handle an increase in the milk supply if demand for milk could
be increased. Most plants appear to operate at much less than full capacity during much of the yea

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