Pasture management is the control of pasture grazing by all animals. Pasture should be grazed lightly enough to keep the mature grass growth down but not so much that it is cropped to the ground. If some grasses are not touched by the grazing animals, pull them up before they flower and produce seeds. The livestock should then be moved off the pasture and it is rested to allow the growth of fresh grass. Bushes and trees which goats like to graze will also produce fresh growth. It may be necessary to move herds some distance to find new grazing. Buffalo and cattle can travel up to 3 km while goats and sheep travel up to 5 km from watering points in search of fresh grazing.
Pasture can be fenced or hedged to make protected enclosures. This allows animals to be confined to an area while the neighboring pasture is rested. In this way land, can be grazed for 1 to 2 weeks and then rested for several weeks to allow grass to regrow. This is pasture rotation.
Manage the grazing of pastures
When the grazing of pastures by livestock is controlled it brings several benefits:
- Herding animals allows them to be watched and any problems such as bloat will be quickly noticed.
- By preventing animals from overgrazing pasture the fertile top soil will be held in place by the plants and their roots. It will not become eroded and the soil is not washed into streams and irrigation channels causing problems for farmers.
- Pasture rotation allows fresh growth of feed plants for the animals. It allows pasture to be left long enough for grasses to produce good roots and seed.
- Fencing areas to keep animals out allows the growing of special feed crops which can later be cut and fed to the animals.
- Pasture rotation helps in the control of both internal and external parasites. Do not always keep young animals on the pasture near the water supplies. It is here that large numbers of parasite eggs build up.
Remember that the grazing ruminant can eat many things as it grazes:
- Wire and nails can pass through the wall of the rumen into the heart and kill. They can also injure the feet.
- Plastic bags can choke an animal and block the stomach.
- Tin cans and glass can cut the mouth, feet and legs.
Fodder varieties and production
- Green fodder : Main source of carbohydrates and crude fibre. Varieties include CO3 and CO4, Bermuda (buffalo grass), Canchrus sps, Napier grass, Congo signal, Fodder sorghum (COFS 27), elephant grass, Sudan grass etc.
- Legume : includes Cowpea, horsegram, lucerne, barseem, green gram, black gram, Shanka pushpam (Aparajita – Clitoria ternatea), phillipasara (Phaseolus rilobus), Daincha (Sesbania bispinosa)
- Fodder Trees : Subabul, glycericidia, Drumstick, Neem, Sesbania grandiflora, Sesbania sesban, Acacia sp, Melia dubia
Storage of fodder
- It is known as pickle of green fodder. It is easily digestible and highly palatable.
- Best quality silage can be prepared from cereal fodder crops like Maize, Sorghum, Pearl millet, Oats and Barley which are rich in carbohydrates/sugars.
- Green fodder should be harvested at milking to dough stage of the crop, containing moisture content around 65 to 70 per cent, ideal for silage making.
- After harvesting, fodder is chaffed to 1 to 2-inch size for filling in silo pit.
- Silage storage structure (Silo pit) is to be constructed prior to initiating silage making.
- Surface silo is an ideal storage structure and to be constructed on raised ground to minimize inflow of water. Size of the silo pit depends on the quantity of fodder to be ensiled.
- Silo pit with area of one cubic meter (1 metre length x 1 meter width x 1 meter height) is sufficient for ensiling 500 to 600 Kilograms of chaffed fodder.
- The chaffed fodder is filled in tightly pressed layer of 10 cm each.
- Pressing of fodder can be done manually in small silo and through tractors on big size silo.
- After complete filling of silo pit, silage heap should be well sealed at the top with polythene sheet and 5 inches’ thick moist soil layer.
- Later, if some cracks are visible in the covered layer, more soil should be spread to seal it.
- Use of additives should be avoided in silage making. However, if fodder is not harvested at proper stage, suitable additives (molasses/common salt/ urea/formic acid) can be used during fodder filling.
- After 45 days silage is ready for animal feeding. When green fodder is in deficit, silo pit can be opened from one side to take out the silage as per daily need of animals. It may be covered properly with polythene sheet after taking out of silage daily.
- Silage is a substitute of green fodder. However, initially for 3 – 4 days, its feeding is limited @ 5 to 10 kg/animal/per day to adjust the animals on silage feeding.
Chaffed fodder filling and pressing in silo pit fully sealed silo pit
- Hay is a sun dried green fodder, containing moisture below 15 per cent. It is a good source of digestible dry matter and crude protein for dairy animals during deficit The best quality hay is prepared from thin stem cultivated fodder crops like Lucerne, Oats and Sweet Sudan Grass during hot and dry summer months from March to May. Some perennial pasture grasses like Guinea grass, Rhodes grass, Anjan / Dhaman grass, Blue panic grass are also suitable for hay making. To get best quality hay, these crops are cut at 50 per cent flowering stage.
- After cutting, green foliage is evenly spread on dry surface in thin layers of 5 cm thick for sun drying.
- Every morning after 10 A.M. fodder is inverted manually /mechanically for quick and evenly drying. After 4 to 5 days, when moisture reaches to less than 15 per cent in the forages, hay is collected and bundles are made for storage.
- While drying, care should be taken that hay retain the leaves and green color, as it is an indicator of good quality hay.
- These bundles of hay should be stored in moisture and dust free places like bunkers / godowns to maintain quality for longer period.
- Hay can be fed @ 5 kg per animal per day with or without chaffing.
Sun drying of green foliage bundles of hay
Enrichment of dry fodder
Straw Treatment Method
- At a time at least 1 ton straw should be treated. We need 40 kg urea and 400 litres of water for the treatment of 1 ton straw.
- Dissolve 4 kg urea in 40 litres of water.
- Spread 100 kg straw on the floor to form 3-4-inch-thick layer.
- Sprinkle 40 litres of prepared urea solution on the straw using gardener’s sprinkler. Then press the straw with feet by walking on it.
- Spread another 100 kg of dry straw on top of this compressed straw, and prepare another 40 litres of urea solution again by dissolving 4 kg urea in 40 litres of water.
- Sprinkle the prepared urea solution over the second layer of straw and repeat the compaction by walking on the layer of treated straw.
- Likewise, repeat the procedure 10 times by spreading 10 layers of straw, sprinkling it with 4 % urea solution and then pressing with feet.
- Cover the treated straw heap with a new plastic sheet and spread some quantity of mud at the point where it touches the ground to prevent the formed ammonia gas to escape.
- In case plastic sheet is not available, cover the treated heap with dry straw.
- Then after putting some soil, cover the same with wet clay / or cow dung layer to make it airtight.
- Never feed urea or urea solution directly to the animal. Urea as such is fatal to animals.
- While treating the straw, keep the urea solution away from the reach of animals.
- Cemented floor is more appropriate for treatment of straw.
- If the floor is kaccha, use a plastic sheet on the floor before spreading the first layer of straw.
- It is convenient to undertake straw treatment in a closed room or in the corner location.
- Treated straw should be opened after 21 days in summer and 28 days in winter.
- Before feeding, the straw should be spread in open air for the ammonia gas to escape.
- Start with feeding small quantities of treated straw. Slowly the animal gets habituated and starts relishing it.
It is a ration which supplies all the essential nutrients to the animal in required proportion, form and quantity for 24 hours. Desirable characteristics of good ration are as follows.
- Ration should be properly balanced with all necessary nutrients.
- Ration should include variety of feed stuffs so as to provide better nutrient composition to the body.
- Ration should include sufficient green fodders preferably legumes.
- Ration should include palatable and digestible feedstuffs so as to ensure optimum feed intake and maximum nutrient availability. as they may reduce the nutrient availability leading to health disorders,
- Ration should satisfy the total dry matter requirement of an animal based on weight.
- Ration should be fairly bulky as it is required for satisfaction of hunger and expulsion of undigested material due to its laxative action
- Ration should be fresh and free from undesirable weeds and dust.
- Ration should be properly processed to ensure its desirable intake.
- Ration should be economical as feed accounts to about 60 – 70 % cost of animal rearing.
Thumb rule for cattle feeding.
- The average DM (Dry matter) requirement of desi cow is 2 (dry) to 2.5 (lactating) Kg. / 100 Kg. body weight / day while it is 2.5 (dry) to 3.0 Kg. (lactating) in cross breed cows and buffaloes.
- The roughage requirement is fulfilled through green and dry fodders, about 2/3 of DM through dry fodder and remaining 1/3 from green fodder
- The concentrate requirement of animal for maintenance production and pregnancy is as follows:
- Maintenance requirement of desi cow and crossbred cow / buffalo is 1 and 1.5 Kg. respectively.
- Lactating animal should be given 1 Kg. additional concentrate for every 2.5 Kg (Buffalo) to 3 Kg. (Cow) milk produced.
- Pregnant cows, buffaloes should receive 1.5 Kg. per day extra concentrate allowance during advance pregnancy to meet extra need of nutrients for growth of foetus
- Breeding bulls in service should get 1 Kg. per day extra concentrate. Allowance to maintain good health and sex libido.
- Mineral mixture and common salt each @ 25-50 gm should be given to fulfill mineral requirement of animal.
- It is minimum allowance of ration given to the animal for carrying out its essential body processes at optimum rate without gain or loss in body weight.
- It is usually given to dry non-producing animals. It roughly satisfies the nutrient requirement for maintenance.
- Gestation or Pregnancy Ration It is the allowance of ration given to the pregnant animal in addition to maintenance ration during the last quarter of pregnancy.
- It is given to satisfy nutrient requirement of pregnant animals. It is required for optimum foetal growth.
- It helps in proper development of udder for future lactation.
- It is the additional allowance of ration given to the animal over and above the maintenance ration for the purpose of production like milk, meat, wool and work.
- It is given to meet the nutrient losses through milk.
- It helps to maintain milk production to optimum level
Compound cattle feed
- Compound cattle feed is a mixture of various concentrate feed ingredients in suitable proportion.
- Commonly used ingredients in compound cattle feed include grains, brans, protein meals/cakes, chunnies, agro-industrial by-products, minerals and vitamins.
- Compound cattle feed is an economical source of concentrate supplements and it could be in the form of mash, pellets, crumbles, cubes, etc.
- Compound cattle feed is palatable and good source of nutrients for growing, adult, dry, milk producing and pregnant animals.
- Through regular use of compound cattle feed in prescribed quantity along with basal diet, cost of milk production from dairy animals can be optimised and net profitability can be increased.
Compound cattle feed needs to be fed as follows:
||Cows (400 kg body wt.)
||Buffaloes (500 kg body wt.)
||1.5 - 2.0 kg
||2.0 - 2.5 kg
|For milk production (per litre)
||2.0 kg (last two months)
||2.0 – 2.5 kg (last two months)
Considering the increase in milk yield, regional variation in feed availability, preference of farmers it is required to produce different varieties of compound cattle feed.
- Proper management of young calf is prerequisite to the success of any dairy farm.
- An optimal level of nutrition in early life favours faster growth and early maturity.
- Calves should be reared carefully to obtain optimum gain in body weight, so that they attain about 70-75 percent of mature body weight at puberty.
- Poor feeding of young calves leads to higher age at first calving and overall loss of productivity in the life span.
Important aspects of calf feeding :
- Colostrum feeding within half an hour of birth
- Feeding whole milk/ milk replacer to calves
- Introduction of calf starter/good quality grain from 2nd week onwards
- Good quality hay should also be given to calves
- Deworming and vaccination
Calf feeding schedule (birth to 26th of week of age)
|Calf feeding schedule (birth to 26th of week of age)
|Colostrum/ Whole Milk (kg/day)
||Calf starter (kg/day)
||Good quality hay* (kg/day)
||Green fodder* (kg/day)
||Milk (0.5 kg) or milk replacer (0.25 kg) can be fed, if available with progressive dairy farmers & having good economic conditions
|10th -11th wk
|13th -16th wk
|17th -20th wk
|21st -26th wk
|Note: *Requirement of hay and green fodder may vary from breed to breed & body weight of calf. Colostrum feeding is very essential during early life of calf.
Bypass protein supplement
- Dairy animals have four compartments in its stomach. The first and the foremost is ‘rumen’ where most of the feed items are degraded. Around 60 to 70 percent of dietary protein meals fed to animals are degraded to ammonia in the rumen.
- A significant part of this ammonia is excreted through urine in the form of urea.
- Thus, a large portion of protein from expensive cakes/ meals is wasted. If suitable treatment is given to dietary protein meals, degradation in the rumen can be minimised.
- This process or treatment to protect dietary protein from degradation in rumen is known as bypass protein technology. These protected meals are digested more efficiently in the small intestine and results in extra protein being available for milk production. This helps the animal to produce more milk and of optimum quality.
- These protein meals are treated suitably to reduce their degradability in the rumen from 60-70 per cent to 25-30 per cent, in a specially designed airtight plant.
- Treated protein meal can be either fed directly to animals as top feed @ one kg per animal per day or can be incorporated in cattle feed @ 25 per cent and this cattle feed can be fed @ 4-5 kg per animal per day, depending up on the level of milk production.
- Cost of treatment of protein meals is Rs 2.5 to 3.0 per kg but considering the resulted increase in milk yield it is always cost effective.
Animal feed ration:
- Maize flour-1/2 kilo; Paddy flour-1/2 kilo; Cotton seeds-1/2 kilo.
- Mix all together and soak them in little water and feed to animal twice a day.
- It costs Rs.60/animal/day to procure maize kernels and paddy and grind them into flour in local flour mill. Paddy is ground into powder without separating rice and bran.
- Daily about 200 gms of common salt is included in drinking water.
- The animals are daily taken for grazing in traditional pasture land maintained by them.
- It is found the quality of milk is superior with good taste and more fat percentage and therefore quantity of ghee is more compared to cross bred animals.
Source : Pashu sakhi Handbook