Tale of Two Cows: Organic And Conventional

I could resist the temptation of writing on a subject so dear to my heart. I remember my love for fresh milk in childhood unlike the children of the present generation who like everything but milk. I also remember the comings of ‘Punjabi’ cows and buffalos from the cattle fairs in the village in later years and hordes of villagers coming from the nearby habitations to see them. Now all those desi cows have gone, and we get to see only ‘Jersi’ cows. It was only very late that I came to understand that they are named so after a state in US. When I saw today this table comparing organic and conventional cows in Business ‘Week’, I thought I share this with my readers. Some may get inspired to switch over to organic cows.

Organic and conventional cows have one thing in common: They produce milk. Rest of the features establishes the difference.

While the average life span of a conventional cow is 4-5 years that of organic cows are 10+ years.

Conventional cow produces 54 pounds as average daily milk output, while the organic cow produces only 43+ pounds. Organic output can be 20% less, in part because farmers often don’t push the animals as hard.

The conventional cow’s primary diet is silage, hay, and commercial feed that can include corn, barley, fish meal, and potato waste. For the organic cow the primary feed is grass from pastureland and hay with some organic feed.

And the additives/medicines for the conventional cow is bioengineered growth hormones, antibiotics, whereas that for the organic cow is occasional vitamins and herbs.

Conventional cows are kept in dairy “feed lots” or barns, sometimes in stalls where they are machine milked; the living quarters for organic cows spacious barns or stalls, lots of outdoor time. For conventional cows, the artificial inseminations are used for breeding. For organic cows, breeding is through mating with bulls.

Can India try exploring the huge organic food market of US, as it is the topmost milk producer of the world and can further increase, if like the attempt of second green revolution it goes for second white revolution too?

China has tried for entering the US market, and has been discarded till date. The critics say it’s simply hard to reconcile chemical-free farming with a nation that continues to make DDT and use pesticides on a mass scale. And China’s organic farms aren’t exactly the small, family-run enterprises many consumers expect.

I wish some Indian farm enthusiasts took the challenges to enter US organic market that is growing fast and succeed.

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