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Forage Production

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 Like any other species of livestock Sheep and goat require good quality feed throughout the year. If it is always plentiful and of right kind, they can produce and reproduce round the year  and provide more lambs and kids per unit time. The major advantage of sheep and goat in agriculture production system is their special ability to utilize natural grasses, bushes, shrubs, crop stubbles and tree lopping. They use the lands that would otherwise be of little  value for agricultural purposes.                                       



          The sheep and goat population of the state comprises more than 50 percent of the total live stock of the state. The increasing trend in the live stock population has resulted in sharp increase in density of live stock per unit grazing land. Pasture improvement and management has thus become imperative as these pastures provide valuable fodder for sheep and goat and are cheapest source of supplying nutrients.   Sheep husbandry department Kashmir has a total land measuring 18255 kanals spread in different sheep breeding farms and district organizations. Out of it 2474 kanals are cultivable with an annual fodder production of about 9000 quintals, which is being utilized for feeding of Government livestock of various sheep breeding farms of the department. The department through its forage production wing is encouraging farmers to cultivate good quality grasses/legumes and perennial grasses for their livestock and seeds of such improved varieties of grasses are being distributed amongst the farmers for fodder development. Further establishment of silvi pastures for increasing bio-mass by introducing quality grasses and fodder trees is also encouraged. Pasture development and management is high on the agenda of the department in future.  


Present Status and Feeding Strategies of Livestock during scarcity period.


This is evaluation of present situation and suggests some of strategies for feeding during lean period through extension programme it is comparatively easier to persuade farmers to put some of their area under fodder crops---an exercise proved successful for the valley where 50,000 hectare area is now under winter crop-of oats. There is an urgent need to manage the grazing lands and fortification of Agriculture should be initiated through technology transfer programmes.


Key words----Temperate, grazing, fodder, cultivation productivity of livestock cannot be increased by merely improving genetic potential. It has to be supplemented with proper feeding for exploiting the genetic potential in terms of productivity. Feeding of livestock is based on certain standards that take into account the specific functions such as maintenance, production, pregnancy etc. The nutrition of livestock comprise of concentrate, green fodder, (Cultivated fodder), grass from grassland and pastures (including ground and top feed), roughages of crop and hay (dried fodder).


(A)  Forage Production.

            The farmers in the valley do not grow any fodder during summer when rice is to priority crop.  Most of the land remained fallow during winter till late seventies when the several fodder crops like vetch, oats, Berseem, Bareley and turnips were introduced here. Out of these crops berseem was not accepted by the farmers since the forage is available after March whereas it is required during the peak winter season even other crops like vetch, barley and turnips could not become popular. However, oats cultivation has caught up tremendously. During 1972 the J&K Govt. offered free oats seeds and fertilizers yet the total take off of seed was about 200Kgs. On the contrary during 1987-88,230 tones of oats seed was sold by only agriculture Department. At present an area of 50,000 hectares  is sown annually under oat during winter (Kachroo,1992 ), though the additional forage availability has improved the livestock product availability in the valley basis, the situation precarious in higher altitude. besides oat paddy straw, willow leaves stacked on trees only and aquatic weeds form the major source of forage availability.

Horti-pastoral up to an elevation of 200 meters is also catching up with the orchardists. Forage from the Horti-pastoral  is consumed fresh and is also conserved as hay for winter. The best fodder plant combination for Horti-pastoral  is as under:-

1-                  Orchard grass + Red clover.

2-                  Rye grass + Red clover.

3-                  Red clover + Brome grass.



            The native pasture and other grazing land in the state of J& K are utilized under migratory, Semi migratory and sedentary system of animal rearing and often experience acute shortage of biomass during winter from November –April, therefore, intrude into the adjacent forest and net result is in their large scale destruction. Therefore, provision of feed and fodder during this critical period through the creation of forage reserves and/or forage banks also the conservation of these forest areas is of paramount importance for restoration of environment equilibrium of forage ecosystem.

            Both grazing and forage cultivation have to be considered as supplementary to each other and simultaneously efforts are required to improve both. The improvement and subsequent management of pastures is of prime importance and this has to be supplemented with extension efforts to induce the farmers to cultivate the fodder.



Strategies for lean period

            It is essential to grow fodder and /or conserve surplus forage for feeding to livestock during the lean period. Forage production is possible both under cultivate and non-cultivated areas during lean periods. Therefore, the strategies to overcome the problem of lean period feeding are as fallows:


a)         Enrichment of Stran/Stover.

            This is very important technique to make available the nutritious fodder during the scarcity period.  This will help to enhance the nutritive value of crop researches and other cellulosic wastes for livestock feeding. This minimizes the wastages of the non-conventional as well as conventional fodder the narrow down the gap between availability and requirement of fodder by making these materials suitable for livestock period.


Enrichment of roughages with urea involve addition of 2 kg urea/10% molasses, 10% mineral mixture and 1% common salt.  These ingredients are dissolved in water (10 liters) and spread over the straw and mixed properly.  Such ration can meet the maintenance  requirement of animals.

            Urea-generated ammunitions has been found very effective in improving the quality of low grade roughages.  In this process 100 kg straw is treated with 4 kg urea and 50 liters of water.  The quantity of water required depends upon the moisture content of straw.  The urea solution is sprinkled or sprayed layer by layer during stacking and the stack may be converted with polythene cover or untreated straw.  Such ration can increase additional 100-150 g growth rate and 0.5 to 1.5 kg milk per day.


b)         Establishment of fodder banks.

            It is aimed at supporting the livestock with feed and nutrients during scarcity of winter at higher altitude area, the pasture land covered with snow.  Surplus forages of the region may be stored or transported from near by states to meet the periodic unavailability.


c)         Forage conservation.

            It is essential to conserve surplus nutritious green forages at the appropriate times, with a view to tide over the problem of lean periods.  The conserved forages would serve the important purpose of supplementing straw based rations of low nutritive value on which livestock usually subsist during the lean periods.


            The methods of conservation generally practiced, are silage and hay making silage is the second best and cheapest cattle feed if preserved at the right stage of plant growth and made available for feeding in the lean period.  Modern technology also make use of artificial dehydration of herbage for producing hay of high quality irrespective of weather conations.

d)     Silage Making.

            It is the wet preservation of green forage where sufficient acid is formed rapidly under are aerobic condition which acts as preservative.  The most important substrate for formation of acid is water soluble.  Carbohydrates.  During silage making, soluble carbohydrates in fodders are converted by lactic acid bacteria mainly into lactic acid and other organic acids.  The resulting pickle-like product is acidic, ideally having a PH value around 4.


e)     Hay.

            Green forages when dried to about 80-85% dry matter, containing most of its nutrients including cardene, is caltted hay.  There baric principal of hay making is to reduce the moisture concentration in the green forages sufficiently as to permit their storage without spoilage or further nutrient losses. The moisture concentration is hay must be less than 15% at storage time. However, crops with this stems and many leaves are better suited

for hay making as they dry faster than those having thick and pithy stems and small leaves.  Natural grasses Oats, Lucerne, are highly suitable for hay making which is used for lean period.


f)     Reduction of wastages by chaffing.

            Shortage of roughages is a problem during scarcity period.  All efforts should be made to minimize the wastage.  Shukla et al ( 1988) reported that 15-20% of the stran offered is refused when it is fed unchaffed.  Therefore, chaffing is essential to minimize the wastage.


Complete feed block.

Complete feed block means the feed which supplies all the nutrients required by the animals other than water.  A complete feed block usually contains 75% roughages and rest grains, cakes, molasses,  urea and mineral mixture.  The materials are weighed and mixed there roughly.  They are then compressed in a block making machine.  This type of block occupies very little space compared to loose feed.  If unwrapped properly, it can be speared for unlimited period without losing nutritive value.  Moreover, the block may be prepared by mixing different preparations of ingredients as required by particular species under specific physiological stage i.e blocks different composition can be prepared for growing pregnant, lactating or working animals.


            This technology has already gained special importance in H.P. and can prove successful in Kashmir province.  They can be transported to different terrains and stored well in advance.  They can be used when the roads are blocked and weather is severe.