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Dairy industry can be referred to as the production, processing and distribution of milk and milk products (cheese, butter, yogurt, ice-cream, etc.) Nigeria with a population of over 140 million people is grossly under-provided with essential food component like protein which is important in development of human mentally and physically.

Though Nigeria is the largest producer of cow milk in West Africa and the third in Africa, the country is a net importer of the products and in order to increase the percentage of the livestock sector and local milk production, massive investment is required in the dairy industry to meet up with the 1.45 billion litres estimated national and social implications.

Dairy industry represents an important component of Agribusiness sector of the economy with a great economic, nutritional and social implication.Dairy products provide the most important amino acid required for body building as well a tissue repairs in human beings. It is involved in the synthesis of certain hormones, enzymes and body products in both man and animals. In Nigeria, we consume more of plant protein which has been found to be of lower quality than animal protein. The use of exotic breed with high milk production and having resistance for tse-tse fly will boost production of the economy.

Presently, in Nigeria, the industry is yet untapped/fully developed. This industry should be developed because there is a high demand for milk and dairy products due to increasing population and increasing knowledge on nutrition. The local production presently is less than 1% of the total demand estimated to be 1.45 billion litres. The recent attempted ban on imported powdered milk in order to encourage local production in Nigeria should be seen as a wakeup call for investors to take up advantage.
Nigeria has the potential of being a major milk producer in Africa by using improved methods of storing, Processing, packaging and transporting. Milk production can be raised substantially for internal use and for export.

Cattle productivity in Nigeria is very low due to high reproductive wastage, low calving rate and low milk yield per lactation. Cattle production system is largely small holders. Most dairy products in Nigeria market are made from reconstituted milk powder from Europe, New Zealand, South Africa, United States of America ,etc. which defer in taste,flavor and nutrient profile compared with fresh milk.

Some of the Northern breeds only offer some prospect for milk production. These are the indigenous breeds and they are listed as follows with their attributes:

1 Kuri breed: They are well identified with their gigantic bulbous horns (sometimes 130cm in length and 55cm in diameter) and the shape is pear.They are white in color. Their female weighs average 400kg and 135-180cm in height and male 475kg weight averagely and height range from 152-180 .Milk yield is 4 litres a day after nursing their calves. Average milk yield of calculations was 1259kg in 280 days. Highest individual yield is 2,440kg in 314 days.

2 Shuwa (Wadara) breed: Found in North east part of Nigeria, Usually dark red, black or brown, short horned and a small erect hump. Average milk yield of 23 lactations was 1305kg. Highest performance was 3421kg in 305 days.

  1. White Fulani (Bunaji): Widely distributed, 50% of total cattle production. Coat is white with black points on the ears, muzzle and feet and tip of tail. This breed has given 1000-3600kg per lactation. Milk production is low ranging from 200-450kg/cow per annum. Female is 340-360. While male is 530-600. This breed offer the best prospects for dairy production among indigenous breed.
  2. Sokoto Gudali: They are widely distributed throughout the country. They have a uniform cream,light grey color.Hair is short and the skin is thick and pigmented. They are also useful milkers. It has a calving interval of 360 – 450 days. The female produces an average of 1500kg of milk per lactation. Their female weighs about 330kg while male weighs about 450kg.

Exotic breeds such as the Friesian, Brown Swiss, Jersey were imported to Nigeria for cross breeding with indigenous cattle in order to raise the level of production

  1. Holstein-Friesian: This is the world’s highest producing dairy animal. They weigh 650kg and 147cm fall. Average milk production is 10,443kg. Top producing Holstein milked twice a day produce 30,806kg milk.
  2. Brown Swiss: Brown in colour and oldest of all dairy breed. It produces the second largest quantity of milk per annum 9000kg. They are known for their dairy strength, longevity and reproduce longer than cattle of other breeds.
  3. Jersey: They come in all shades of brown, cow ranges from only 360 to 560kg. A lower maintenance costs is incurred by its lower body weight and superior grazing ability. Jersey has a calving ease and a relatively lower rate of dystocia which helps in cross breeding with other dairy.

Some set back in the dairy industry will be discussed because handling them will make us prepare for the success that this industry portends:
– Inefficient method of collection and distribution of milk hinder dairy development.
– Unsanitary methods of milk handling, breakdown of processing plants, inefficient milk collection.
– The natural grass upon which cattle feed is low in protein and indigestible roughage so cattle have poor nutrition and low milk yield. The calves also compete with human being for the limited output of milk. These natural grasses are also increasingly becoming inadequate due to expanding croplands and increasingly range degradation.
– The Fulani pastoralist (who are nomadic) always go for days on long distances to graze their cattle and look for pasture and water for them. This affects the quality and quantity of their milk with the output of milk per cow per day.
– The local cow genotype that contributes about 65% of milk in Nigeria is multipurpose, yielding only about 0.7 litres of milk per day, therefore making it a bad milker.
– Most farmers keep indigenous breed because exotic breeds which yield more milk than local are less adapted to African conditions and hence more susceptible to endemic diseases and environmental stress. Also due to additional labor and capital input requirements for exotic breeds which are a major constraints to farmers.
– Majority of indigenous dairy farmers lack basic education which prevent them from making contributions on policy issues affecting their production.
– Some diseases also hinders the growth of industry in Nigeria. They include:

  1. Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD): This is an acute and highly contagious viral disease which affects cattle. It affects all ages. Symptoms include; Blister like sores and ulcers on the feet, mouth, muzzle, udder and teats. Also, heavy salivation, lameness, high fever, refusal to eat, hooves sometimes fall off. This disease can be prevented by vaccinating cattle against FMD and by maintaining good hygiene on the farm.
  2. Tick Infestation: Ticks are external parasites which are dark in colour. They get on the livestock by climbing up on bushes and weeds and waiting for an animal to brush against them. They attach themselves to the skin of animals and suck their blood. They can transmit serious diseases like tick fever. They can also cause tick paralysis, anaemia, low milk production, weight loss and even death.
  3. Helminthosis: We have the tapeworm, roundworm, and liver fluke. All these are internal parasites that affect cattle. However they can be prevented by routine deworming.
  4. Foot rot: This is a major cause of lameness in cattle of all ages. The bacteria multiply in wounds in the skin between the hoof sections. This can be prevented by keeping animals in a dry place, regular trimming of hooves and by removing sharp objects from pasture.
  5. Trypanosomiasis: This disease is mainly transmitted by tsetse flies. Trypanosomiasis affecting cattle are the most important economically major cause for reduced meat and milk production in cattle. Mortality rate can reach 50 – 100% within a month after exposure particularly when poor nutrition contributes to debilitation. However, tsetse flies can be reduced with traps and insecticides. Also, selection of trypannasomiasis tolerant breeds of cattle can reduce impact.

As earlier said, this industry is yet to be fully developed and investors are hereby called to look into this industry because there is high demand for milk and dairy products due to increasing population and increasing knowledge on nutrition.

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