A project supported by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in India is helping the country’s small-scale mixed crop and livestock farmers increase their incomes by boosting their milk production.
The Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia (CSISA) project, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is addressing feed constraints in rice-, wheat- and maize-based systems by improving the efficiency of rice and wheat straw feeding and increasing the use of inexpensive, locally available and nutritionally dense supplementary feeds such as maize grains. The project is also promoting underutilized cereal residues such as maize stover for livestock feeds.
A key focus of this project is helping farmers to improve their income by increasing milk production through changes in feeding practice.
According to Dhiraj Singh, an ILRI agricultural economist working in Delhi, India, the project is promoting the use of balanced concentrate feed and urea-treated maize stover as livestock feed to increase dairy output.
‘We are training farmers on how to prepare balanced concentrate feed using wheat, rice, bran and oilcake so that they can do it themselves and improve their milk production’, said Singh. ‘They can then increase their income through milk sale’.
Tipping the scales with balanced concentrate feed
Singh, who recently spoke about how the project is improving farmers’ lives on an Indian television program, says results from feeding trials in Bihar show that milk yields increased with the use of concentrate feeds and maize stover.
‘The average milk yield increased by 1.25 litre per day, and fat and solids-non-fat (SNF) also increased. Most importantly, farmers’ income increased by 34 Indian rupees (around 50 cents USD) per day per animal’, he said.
‘But farmers need to deworm animals affected by parasites to improve the effectiveness of these feeds’.
Urea-treated maize stover
Singh says treating maize stover with urea makes it even more effective as animal feed.
‘Though it takes 21 days for urea-treated maize stover to be ready for feeding, the value added is that it can be stored for future use’, he says.
Watch Dhiraj Singh’s interview (in Hindi) on the YouTube channel of Krishi Darshan, an Indian television program that disseminates agricultural information to rural farmers (from 6:30-22:10 minutes).
Read more about ILRI’s work on CSISA.