Abstract Agriculture in the Punjab province of eastern Pakistan benefits from one of the largest canal irrigation systems in the world. The typical mixed holding is a small, 5 ha mixed farm with three-quarters of its land used for cash crops, such as rice, wheat and sugarcane, and the remainder growing forages such as lucerne and berseem for dairy animals. Both cows and buffaloes are used for milk production, with the latter the more productive. Despite irrigation, productivity is constrained by a slow uptake of new technology such as fertilisers and new plant varieties, and poor livestock management, which leads to extended calving intervals, and a lack of available capital. This study used LP models, constructed with original local data on milk and crop production activities, to investigate the effect on profitability of alleviating the main constraints. The results demonstrate the powerful effect of using better, well managed dairy livestock, of increasing the uptake of simple technological improvements and of widening access to credit. They also show the synergy between these elements, for example the importance of finance as part of any intervention strategy. The results should enable agricultural development policy makers to rank the changes and devise better targeted programmes to deliver the changes on farm.