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HOW TO IMPROVE THE LIVESTOCK SECTOR IN KERALA: SOME NUTRITIONAL THOUGHTS Ajith K.S1., Anil Kumar, K2 and Dipu, M.T3. Livestock Research Station, Thiruvizhamkunnu.

Challenges and Opportunities Why the cattle population is decreasing in Kerala in spite of the increasing demand of milk is being debated in every animal husbandry seminars. There is a decline in total cattle population and the buffalo population shows a more rapid declining trend. The demand by consumers are not met by production within the state and the human population is increasing day by day. There is always a deficit of 25 percent in milk as far as requirement is considered. In Kerala, out of the total geographical area of 38.86 lakh hectare, 18 percent of the land area is barren land or uncultivated land area or cultivable waste area which can be utilized in one way or other for improving the livestock sector.

J. Ind. Vet. Assoc., Kerala. 10 (1)

One major problem faced by Kerala is the weak feed and fodder base. With the shift in cropping pattern of Kerala, the area under rice cultivation has come down by more than 50 percent over the last two decades leading to drastic reduction in the availability of straw for feeding cattle. It is estimated that the state produces only 60 per cent of the roughage requirement for cattle in Kerala.(economic review, Kerala 2010) As a result roughage in the form of straw is being brought in to the state from adjacent states at an exorbitant rate. Kerala has got a unique distinction among Indian states that, it is the only state which uses readymade concentrate as the major feed resource, 1. Asistant Professor, Livestock Research Station, Thiruvizhamkunnu. 2. Associate Professor & Head, Livestock Research Station, Thiruvizhamkunnu. 3. Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Nutrition, College of Veterinary & Animal Sciences , Mannuthy.


instead of depending on “homemade” feeds. Regarding the cattle feed concentrate, which will have to supplement the shortage in quality fodder production, the current level of production is not enough to satisfy the requirement. Now KCMMF, Kerala Feeds Ltd. and a few private players are taking conscious steps for facing this challenge. Dairy farmers in Kerala have tried to adjust with the situation by restricting the number of cattle and by preferring high yielding cross breds. This is evident from the steady increase in the proportion of crossbred animals, which Kerala achieved during the last three decades. What is the way out ? A joint effort by the researchers, policy makers and implementing agencies is the need of the hour. Some thoughts which may be valuable are narrated here. Development of “local” feeding standards Most of the feeding standards which are being used today are developed for conditions not directly related to feeding practices prevailed under Kerala conditions. Farmers in Kerala use a wide range of low quality and unconventional feeds. As the partitioning of nutrients are complex and are governed by a number of factors including the genotype of the animal, quantity and quality of feed and the environment, the possible solution is to give nutritional recommendation to the farmers under our managemental conditions and some efforts are being done by the Department of Animal Nutrition, KVASU.


Advantages of Total Mixed Ration Ø It is the best way to feed balanced ration to ruminants. Ø Less feed wastage. Ø Saves time and labor. Ø Easy for transportation and storage. Ø Crop residues can be effectively utilized Ø Reduces methane production. Ø Improved productive and reproductive efficiency. Use of Agricultural or Industrial byproducts or novel feeds During 2009-10, the price of cow milk has increased only by 6 percent in Kerala. On the input

Since there is emergence of more and more human food industries, their byproducts can form excellent substances to be included in cattle feed. Notable examples being brewery waste, pine apple waste, spent ginger, tea waste, flours of bread industry, etc. Much nutritional studies in this regard have to be conducted in future. Use of bypass technology Ruminants have advantage over nonruminants in that they can digest large amount of fiber and they can utilize non protein nitrogen. However there are also some constraints as the microbial nutrients may be insufficient for a higher producing animal and the concept of bypass protein, bypass fat and by pass starch comes in to picture. Steps have to be taken for educating the farmers for judicious use of the feed available to them.

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Considering the cost of production involved, farmers are very conscious of increasing the productivity of their animals. Considering the deficiency of fodder and the increasing price of feed ingredients, it is possible to go for precision feeding and one such method is total mixed ration. Total mixed ration is a concept of delivering nutrients to animals as a complete balanced ration. Total mixed ration consists of concentrate, roughage and micronutrients / feed additives. The concentrate and roughage are added in different levels, according to the stage of lactation and physiological stage of the animal. Roughage part is generally crop residue or hay. The concentrate portion includes oilcakes, molasses, grains or grain byproducts. Bypass proteins or bypass fat can also be added depending on the requirement of the animal. Micro nutrients, vitamins, trace minerals, binders, probiotics, antioxidants, antitoxins and herbal extracts are also included to promote proper body function. These ingredients are made into blocks using hydraulic press and as a result of densification process the concentrate matter get attached to the roughage along with molasses which facilitates the cellulolytic microbes to grow faster and enhance cellulolytic activity in rumen.(Walli,T.K. 2010)

side, the price of grass, gingelly oil cake, coconut oil cake and ground nut cake recorded an increase of 20 percent, 12 percent, 3 percent and 12.5 percent respectively during 2009-10. The increased cost of inputs is a serious threat affecting profitability of dairy farming. Since feed cost accounts to about 70 percent of the cost of the livestock farming, research should be focused on measures to reduce the cost of feeding. Researches on nutritional and possible inclusion of tapioca leaves, tapioca starch waste, rubber seed, coffee husk, neem seed, coconut pith, plantain rhizome, cashew apple waste, pepper waste, African payal, palm leaves, frog meal, prawn waste, jack fruit waste, cocoa pods, etc in cattle feed had been undertaken at the Department of Animal nutrition, Kerala Veterinary And Animal Sciences University. These results should be popularized among farmers and the farmers should be encouraged to produce of low cost feed using the locally available feed resources at their door steps. Agricultural by products and crop residues which are available in plenty can be effectively utilized either by physical treatment (chopping of straw or water soaking), chemical treatment (Urea treatment of straw) or by biological treatment (using fungi or treatment with exogenous fibrolytic enzymes).

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Precision Feeding and Total Mixed Ration (TMR) concept



How to increase the fodder base? Role of socially committed NGOs As stated elsewhere in this article, 18% of total geographic area in Kerala state lays underutilized. Self help groups and other unemployed youths can venture in to production of green grass, legume crops or tree fodders by adopting various silvi pastural systems and sell it to farmers as preserved form or fresh. The required technical know how should be provided to them. Many such endeavors have been started in many parts of Kerala. Thrust on tree fodder. Various tree species which can be used as tree fodders include Mullan kaini (Bridelia retusa), Murukku (Erythrina indica), Chamba (Eugenia jambosa), Kumbil (Gmelina arborea), Aval (Holoptelia integrifolia), Subabul (Leucaena leucocephala), Venga (Pterocarpus marsupium), Agathi (Sesbania grandiflora), Njaval (Syzygium cumini), Malayan chamba (Syzygium malaccense) etc. Various silvipastural and agro forestry techniques can be tried for increasing the fodder base as it will not only supply forage but also provide mulch, acting as a control to soil erosion and enhancing soil fertility. Forage Conservation

J. Ind. Vet. Assoc., Kerala. 10 (1)

Kerala is blessed with abundant rain fall. The forages which are produced in excess during rainy season should be preserved for use in the lean periods. Preservation can be done in the form of hay or silage and many self help groups can venture into such activities. Improvement of forage quality is also as important as forage conservation and many ways to improve the inferior crop residues are well established. Residual feed Consider a case where two animals which are equal in all aspects are receiving same feed but one animal is yielding more milk ‌ the point here is the


feed efficiency and those animal which eat more is eating the residual feed. In other sense the feed eaten extra is a waste. So to reduce the wastage what are the solutions? Genetic selection of animals having more feed efficiency. Vigorous culling policy should be initiated in those animals used for progeny testing to eliminate the character from the population. Feed additives Probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes (exogenous enzymes like Cellulases, Xylanases, Hemicellulases, Pentosanases and amylases), organic acids and modifiers of rumen fermentation (ionophores) will help in improving the feed efficiency and reduce methane production. Intake strategies A nutritionally balanced ration is essential for an animal to perform at its optimum level. It is also necessary that animal should sufficiently consume the feed. Often the feed supplied may be imbalanced in minerals, vitamins and other nutrients. Supplementation poses two questions: what to supply? and how to supply? Multinutrient feed blocks is an answer to this as they will supply required nutrients in an easy way. Some points are narrated here which may invoke interest in the minds of the stake holders of animal husbandry activities and hopefully generate enthusiasm for the betterment of this noble profession in Kerala. REFERENCES 1. Kerala Economic review, 2010. Kerala State Planning Board, Thiruvananthapuram. 2. Walli,T.K. 2010, Densified complete feed block technology and its role in enhancing ruminant production, including buffaloes, Proceedings of international Buffalo Conference :294-300

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1.Asistant Professor, Livestock Research Station, Thiruvizhamkunnu. 2.Associate Professor & Head, Livestock Research Station, Thiruvizha...