Fodders are the most important and economic feed resources for goats, sheep and cattle farming. These set of animals otherwise called Ruminants are able to utilize fodders efficiently for meat and dairy (milk) production as well as for their growth and development. More importantly, Grass-fed ruminants have lower fat content which produce lean meat with beneficial acids and vitamins, making them healthier than grain-fed ruminants.
Ruminants require large quantity of fodder due to their stomach configuration and body metabolism. Any farmers or investors that want to venture into ruminants farming should consider pasture establishment as a top priority for successful goats, sheep and cattle production. Knowing the best fodder to grow is also crucial
Herdsmen indiscriminate incursion on Nigeria’s farms and farmers can be addressed with proper ranch planning and establishment across each state of the federation.
One of the most exciting and hopeful movements in American agriculture today is the return of cattle to grass – Michael Pollan, Author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma
Little wonder, 25,000 acres of land was dedicated for only cattle ranch in South Dakota, one of the largest cattle ranches in USA owned by Norman Family.
After Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO’s visit to Piedmont, South Dakota, he wrote;
A lot of our cattle starts in South Dakota where there are about three times as many cows as people. The Normans raise calves until they’re about 600 pound and then send them to feed lots to get fattened and harvested. A lot of cattle are fertilized through artificial insemination. But overall, they seemed optimistic that technology was making their work easier. They talked about how their machinery was now more stable, how the balers that make bales of hale measure the moisture of the hay to make sure it’s ideal, and how they might use drones monitor the herd in the near future. The Normans are proud of the work they do, not just feeding the country, but helping provide things like Insulin, Leather and Makeup ingredients that also come from cattle
Basically, fodders are categorized as Grass Fodder and Leguminous Fodder. Grass fodders are mainly Carbohydrate (energy) source while leguminous fodders are protein source. Larger quantity of grass fodders are needed by ruminants than leguminous fodders hence grass fodders are cultivated in larger scale than leguminous fodders especially for grazing animals. High leguminous fodder in ruminants’ feed can cause Bloat condition in their rumen (one of the four and largest stomach compartments of ruminants). Pure leguminous fodder grazing and grazing on wet fodders increase the bloat risk. Leguminous fodders are used as supplemental feeding, in balanced diet production as well as hay production.
Recent technologies are shaping how these fodders are made available to animals. Fodder can be made available as Bales of Hay using Hay Balers, Silages (Fermented Fodders) using Chopping Machine/Chaff Cutter and Fast Fresh Fodder using Hydroponics.
Noteworthy is to understand how and when to graze, feed, blend and offer different fodder options. For example, the Dry matter (DM) requirement of goat is much higher than cattle and sheep due to higher BMR and Thyroxine production in goat. DM requirement of meat breed and dual purpose breed are lesser than milk (dairy) breed. Additionally, any change to the diet fed must be made gradually to enable the population of rumen bacteria to adjust.
The wider the variety of food the herd can choose from, the more balanced its diet and the healthier it will be – Julius Ruechel, Author of Grass-Fed Cattle
Promising grass fodder is identified below;
Brachiaria Grass: Brachiaria grass is popular for its higher protein value than elephant grass, drought tolerance and high resistance to diseases and pests. It can withstand heavy grazing, makes better hay than other fodder because of good foliage and easy to cut and carry because it has no stinging hairs unlike elephant grass. It can be propagated by seeds or using vegetative part. Seed propagation is the best for large scale brachiaria grass establishment.
Other promising grass fodders are Elephant Grass (or Napier Grass), Guinea Grass and Para grass.
Promising leguminous fodder is identified below;
Lablab (Dolichos bean or Hyacinth bean or Field bean): is a short-lived perennial and multipurpose plant grown for pulse, vegetable and fodder. It is popular for its drought tolerance, high degree of adaptation, ability to fix nitrogen of about 170 kg/ha, good rotational crop and intercrop with Brachiaria grass and cereals. It is palatable and good for making hay rich in protein. Lablab is propagated by seeds.
Other promising leguminous fodders are Alfalfa, a perennial herb (also called Lucerne or Queen of Forage), White Clover, Stylo and Arachis spp.
There are also tree/shrub fodders which can be eaten by browsing animals when they have not grown taller or they are cut and given to animals. The most promising tree/shrub fodders are Leucaena leucocephala, Acacia tortilis, Albizia amora, Ficus religiosa, Ficus glomerata, Sesbania sesban, Dichrostachys mutans, Pittosporum phillyraesides, Atriplex spp., Ailanthus excels.