The demand for milk and meat in India is creating new potential in the profitability of animal husbandry as an occupation. Yet, at the same time, there is a substantial decline in fodder availability. The area under forest and grasslands is decreasing as is the amount of various crop residues available for feed, largely due to the introduction of high yielding dwarf varieties.
The shortage of fodder is therefore compensated with commercial feed, resulting in increased costs in meat and milk production. Moreover, as commercial feed is mixed with urea and other artificial milk boosters, it has a negative effect on the quality of milk and the health of the livestock.
The search for alternatives to concentrates led us to a wonderful plant azolla, which holds the promise of providing a sustainable feed for livestock. Azolla is a floating fern and belongs to the family of Azollaceae. Azolla hosts a symbiotic blue green algae, Anabaena azollae, which is responsible for the fixation and assimilation of atmospheric nitrogen.
Azolla, in turn, provides the carbon source and favourable environment for the growth and development of the algae. It is this unique symbiotic relationship that makes azolla, a wonderful plant with high protein content.
The low quality of livestock and fodder of Ramban prompted the Animal Husbandry Department, Ramban to think about possible solutions. Regular discussions on phone and Internet with friends and guides within Jammu and outside - reached us at exploring the viability of growing Azolla in the district.
Azolla, a fern, having greater than 25 percent protein and a good source of minerals has now been grown in artificial low cost dug pits in a mere space of 2m*2m; is by now established as a very good fodder supplement (not substitute) for dairy cattle, sheep and goat, poultry etc. the production cost of 1kg of Azolla comes to around 90 paise at present.
Real success came when Regional Fodder Station, Hissar supplied us a fresh culture which was spread in many pits around Kahubagh and lush green double/triple matt growth was observed within 11-15 days everywhere. This encouraged the team to pick up the task seriously.
Azolla grown out of these pits is being fed to Cattle and Poultry around Kahubagh regularly however at a very small scale and the method of production has been nearly perfected since August 2015 by now. Feeding 1 kg of Azolla to a milch cow enhances the milk production upto 1 kg after sometime
The project developed slowly and steadily and a pit was dug in the Animal Husbandry Complex Kahubagh Ramban in the month of Feb 2015 after initial failures and hiccups etc. which enhanced our knowledge regarding the production process.
Outstanding Performance Award on the occasion of 69th Independence Day, 2015 was also conferred to the Animal Husbandry Department, Ramban