‘Dairy farmers can feed it to animals every day’, says agricultural economist Dhiraj Singh, referring to a mineral mixture feed that is increasing milk production from dairy cows in Bihar, India.
The new feed mixture is the result of ongoing research by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and other partners in the Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia (CSISA) project that conducted trials among 500 farmers in six districts–Samastipur, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Begusarai, Ara and Patna–in Bihar.
In this 16-minute interview (in Hindi and starts at 5:38 to 23:00 minutes), which was broadcast 2-3 September 2015 on a regional television show Krishi Darshan that provides agricultural information to rural farming audience in India, Singh talks about the benefits of the mineral mixture feed, which contains vitamins and micronutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc and cobalt, in improving livestock nutrition and overall productivity.
‘In Bihar, most farmers give their cattle green and dry feed fodder as well as concentrate and only use mineral mixture when their animals are sick and the veterinarian suggests they do so’, says Singh.
‘But green and dry feed does not always have the micronutrients the animals require, especially for milking’.
As part of the CSISA project farmers were given 1 kg of mineral mixture feed per animal free of charge. It was recommended that animals (both cows and buffaloes) be fed 50 grams per day.
Overall, dairy cows fed on the mixed feed produced more milk, about 0.5 litre per day per animal, solids-non-fat (SNF) percentage increased by 1-2%, and fat percentage increased by 5-6%.
Added value of the mineral mixture feed
The mineral mixture feed is now recommended by ILRI for regular use by dairy farmers in Bihar. It can be fed to large ruminants regardless of the season, time of day, or condition of the animals (e.g. pregnant or milking).
The mineral mixture also helps animals to conceive on time, reduces calving interval and reduces the infestation of ectoparasites such as ticks.
According to Singh, 1 kg of mineral mixture feed costs 80 to 125 Indian rupees (around 1.2 to 2 US dollars) and can be bought from small markets in nearby villages/blocks and from shops where farmers buy veterinary medicines and concentrate feeds. He says regular use of the mixture feeds can reduce cases of animal malnutrition and sickness.
He suggests, by way of example, that farmers use 50 grams of mineral mixture per day, which can be given in two equal portions in the morning and evening. The mineral mixture can also be mixed with jaggery, which is made from sugarcane or palm sap, mixed with concentrate feed, or mixed with fodder.
See a related article on ILRI’s July appearance on Krishi Darshan program.