Techie-couple in Chennai run a dairy farm, promote native cow breeds

Manikandan Nagarajan and his family with a cow at their dairy farm .

Chennai: When Manikandan Nagarajan recounted his childhood days he spent in Salem, all he remembered was consuming unadulterated food. Being a vegetarian, milk and milk products, sourced from native cow breeds, constitute a major composition of his food. Fast forward a few years. Now, Manikandan and his wife, Preetha Rajalakshmi N live in Adambakkam with their child. The couple wanted to give unadulterated milk to their child and much to their agony, Manikandan realised that the packaged milk is of sub-par quality. Following which, the couple began their quest to find a solution to the problem. It was during the time when the Jallikattu movement was happening in Chennai and gained huge momentum that helped Manikandan connect with like-minded people.

“The solution boiled down to owning a cow and being self-reliant. Since the requirement was less, I went ahead and got a native breed,” the 39-year-old techie tells.

He sought help from native cow-rearer in villages who guided him to decide on the breed he wanted. “Since both of us work, maintaining the bovines would require time and we had to rule out the south Indian breed. I was suggested to go for North Indian cows that are easy to take care of and also is capable of providing a minimum of seven litre per day. I gave away the excess milk to my neighbours,” his wife, Preetha chips in.

Thus, they made their first move in 2017. During the course, the couple learnt how the consumption of packaged milk has impacted the lifestyle of the consumers. Giving an example, Manikandan says, “In order to increase the yield, commercial rears inject the cows with oxytocin which is given for pregnant women for going into labour. The medicine helps produce more milk in cows and ultimately it gets mixed with the milk. When young girls consume it, they hit puberty soon.”

When they were on the path of discovery, the truth pushed them beyond boundaries. “The only cow we had became pregnant and was shifted to a land we own in Acharapakkam with a caretaker,” Preetha adds.

Back in Adambakkam, the neighbours approached the couple for milk. The duo, despite being IT employees, decided to buy five cows in the same year to cater to the needs.

As popularity began to grow, the couple wanted to extend the service to a large section and now they maintain 50 cows in the neighbourhood. “When we had one cow, I straight away enter the shed as soon as I come from my workplace and feed it. As a family, we are very much attached to our first cow. However, it is not possible now, so we have hired people to take care of it,” Manikandan adds.

Asked about how supportive his family members were, he immediately quips, “I would not have done this, had it not been my wife’s encouragement.”

Manikandan can be reached at 72996 31590.

Bhavani Prabhakar