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Fodder Development PDF Print E-mail

 

Fodder Development

 

The importance of proper feeding in economic dairy farming need not be over-emphasised. The Board had taken up fodder development as one of the most important activities right from the very beginning. The fodder wing of the Board has four major responsibilities – namely

 

Fodder production to meet the feeding requirements of animals in the Board farms
Providing inputs (fodder seed) for the fodder development programme of the state
Undertaking R & D programmes in the field of fodder production
Imparting training to technicians and farmers



Fodder production in farms


Mattupatti farm : The Mattupatti farm has extensive natural and improved grasslands for grazing and hay making

The natural grasslands at Mattupatti have unique grass combinations. The major species found are Ischaemum indicum, Themeda triandra/ tremula, Heteropogon contortus, Chrysopogon asper, etc. which are well adapted to the local environment. Utmost care is taken by way of controlled grazing, timely weeding and fertilizer application so that the grass combinations and their productivity could be maintained.

Apart from the native species, these grasslands also have the introduced varieties of grasses and legumes. The bulk of the arable land in the farms is used for grass production. Green production from leys is influenced by factors like light, moisture, soil nutrients etc. Sprinkler irrigation is undertaken in a limited area during summer months utilizing the limited water resources for the production of green.

The dung, urine and shed washings are recycled from the sheds for application to the leys in the form of slurry which reduces the expense on inorganic fertilizers. It is also an eco friendly way of disposing off the effluents.

The feeding regime followed could be classified into two, according to the season and the availability of fodder viz;

Flush (wet) season feeding & Lean (dry) season feeding

During the flush season, fodder, mainly in the form of green grass/legumes and hay is fed to the animals. The season lasts for about 245 days. The surplus green available during flush season is preserved for the dry season feeding, which is characterised by the absence of grazing. The fodder requirements of the dry season are met by feeding silage, hay and limited quantity cut fodder from the irrigated leys. The season lasts for about 4 months. The maximum possible nutrient requirements of animals are met from fodder (roughages) limiting the use of concentrate feeds to the bare minimum. The entire roughage requirements are met from within the farm itself. The excess hay produced is sold to agencies like the Department of Animal Husbandry and private institutions/farmers.
The varieties at Mattupatti

 

Grasses:
Rye grass
(Lolium perene)
Cocks foot
(Dactylis glomerata)
Kikyu
(Pennisetum clandestinum)
Setaria
(Setaria anceps)
Molasses
(Melinis minutiflora)
Signal grass
(Brachiaria decumbens)
Congo signal
(Brachiaria ruziziensis)
Rhodes grass
(Chloris gayana)
Legumes:
Greenleaf
(Desmodium intortum)
Silverleaf
(Desmodium uncinatum)
Axillaris
(Macrotylome axillare)





Peermade Farm : Tropical grasses like Guinea, Napier, Para and Maize grow well here. Tropical legumes also do well. Oats is only partially successful.

Dhoni station has a limited area of introduced pasture meant for grazing. Kulathupuzha station, being an exclusive bull station, does not practice grazing and the fodder for daily feeding comes from leys.

Fodder seed programme

Seed production strategy

The propagation of fodder varieties by vegetative means is a laborious, expensive and time consuming process. For a speedy fodder development, the multiplication should be done through the propagation of seeds. The Board has developed and perfected the technology for fodder seed production and propagation in the State. The seed production activities are entrusted to registered seed growers mainly in Idukki district. Seed production from guinea grass is also being carried out through registered seed growers in Palakkad district. The seed production programme has progressed considerably over the years. The Board’s farms also produce small quantities of fodder seeds. The seeds thus produced are sold to agencies involved in dairy development. The Dairy Development Department of the state is the major consumer of fodder seeds. The Board sells fodder seeds to outside the state agencies also. Fodder slips are also being produced and distributed through Dairy Development Department.

Commercial seed production

Around 500 registered seed growers are involved in the commercial seed production activities in the high ranges of Idukki district. The quantity of seed produced by individual seed growers varied from 10 to 200kg.

Seed testing, quality control and marketing

A seed testing laboratory started functioning during 1983 at Dhoni. It is one of the two laboratories available in the country for the quality testing of tropical forage seeds and can handle 5000 samples in an year. It acts as the centre for quality control of the entire quantity of seed produced and procured by the Board.

Fodder seed samples are drawn from seed lots at the farmers’ premises and tested at the seed testing laboratory for purity and germination. The samples conforming to the quality standards alone are accepted.

A central store with a storage capacity of 125 tons also started functioning at Dhoni during 1983. A cool room for long term storage of basic seeds and surplus commercial seed has since been added to the facilities. This store is equipped with a seed drier, seed cleaner and grader.

Fodder promotion programme

The fodder promotion programme works in close collaboration with fodder research and seed production. The fodder promotion wing is responsible for the demonstration of the improved fodder varieties and for the dissemination of the package of practices to the implementing agencies and the farming community.

The technical inputs required for the fodder development activities of the state are provided by the fodder wing of the Board with Dhoni and Chakkupallom as the operational headquarters for the northern and southern regions respectively.