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For Economic Gain : Feed your animals with THESE

KJ Staff
KJ Staff

Unscientific feeding of animals leads to poor economic gains and the wastage of animal feeds. Besides, there is a perpetual shortage of grain and fodder production in India. Therefore, to have a better utilization of animal feeds the farmer should have the basic knowledge of scientific feeding of animals. Economically balanced cheaper rations should be given to animals. It should contain all the essential nutrients for maintenance and production.

Animal feeds are generally classified according to the amount of specific nutrient they furnish in the ration. They are divided into three general classes:



Animal by-products.

The broad classification of feeds is given in the flow chart. There are more than 2000 items which can be fed to the livestock, but only important ones are described.


Roughages are bulky feeds which have large amount of less digestible material, but have more than 18% of crude fibre. A large quantity of roughages would suit the ruminants like cattle and goats because of the presence of rumen. The ruminants can digest very easily the crude fibre present in the roughages. But simple stomached species such as pigs and poultry  cannot digest more than 7% crude fibre. So care should be taken that these animals and birds are not fed with excess amount of roughages.

Roughages are of two types:

Succulent forage

Dry fodder

In this article we will discuss, Succulent feeds :

Succulent feeds

Succulent fodder crops have a relatively high water content, approximately 60-90 per cent. They are highly digestible, but are poor sources of oil, protein and fibre. Succulent feeds are further divided into following types:

1) Pasture

Pasture is the grazing land where animals are allowed to graze. It is the only natural way of feeding livestock at a minimum cost Only 8.6 m ha out of India's 328 m ha geographical area is under permanent pasture and grazing lands. In India most of the grazing lands are situated on undulating and hilly areas and in semi-arid and arid tracts.

Pastures may be natural or cultivated, perennial or seasonal. The composition of pasture dry matter is highly variable. The crude protein may range from 3 to 30 per cent. The crude protein content decreases as the grass matures. Similarly, the moisture content decreases from 75-85% in young plants to 60% in mature plants.

In contrast, the crude fibre i.e. carbohydrates increases from 20% to 40% as the plant matures. The fat content of pasture rarely exceeds 4% of the dry matter. Pasture is very rich in carotene (Vitamin A). The material content varies with the soil type, stage of growth, fertilizer application etc.

2) Cultivated crops

For economical feeding of the animals, it becomes necessary to grow fodder crops. Fodder crops are of two types, namely, (a) leguminous and (b) non-leguminous.

Leguminous fodder

Leguminous fodder crops are regarded as the best cattle feed as they are rich in protein, carotene and calcium contents. They are nutritious and palatable and can be used for formulating cheap rations by replacing concentrates.

Cowpea and cluster beans (guar) are the most common kharif leguminous crops. They contain 2.3% digestible crude protein (DCP) and 10%, total digestible nutrients (TDN). These crops yield about 100 q/acre.

Berseem and lucerne are two other common leguminous fodders.

Berseem is an annual crop, grown during rabi seasons. Lucerne is a perennial crop having maximum growth in winter arid spring. Both the crops yield over 30 quintals/acre in 5-6 cuttings. They contain 2.5 -3% DCP and 12% TDN. They are, however, poor source of phosphorus.

Note 1: Berseem and lucerne are liable to produce bloat if given in large quantities. Thus it is advisable that these should always be given along with some dry fodder.

Note 2: A ration containing a large amount of leguminous fodder should be supplemented with little quantity of rice/wheat bran.

Non-leguminous fodder

The nutritive value of these crops depends on the time and stage of their harvesting. Their flowering stage is supposed to be the richest in nutrient contents. Jowar, maize and sudan grass are most common kharif fodder crops. They contain 0.5-1 % DCP and 11.15% TDN (maize, however, has 1% DCP and 17% TDN). Their yield ranges from 100-200 q/acre.

Oat and barley are common rabi fodder crops. Oat is excellent for the milch cattle and has 2% DCP and 17% TDN. Napier grass and guinea grass are perennial fodder crops.

Tree leaves

Tree leaves are usually used for feeding sheep and goats imd sometimes are fed to cattle during fodder crisis. These are also suitable for use as maintenance ration for livestock. The young leaves have a fairly high content of crude protein and less crude fibre comparatively. The tree leaves and shrubs are generally rich in calcium but poor in phosphorus.


Silage is a fermented feed which is made by storing green forages having a high moisture content, in the pits under air-tight conditions. In the absence of air, the forages undergo certain physical and chemical changes. The entire process requires two to three weeks for getting converted into silage.

Table : Protein, Calcium and Phosphorus contents in some tree leaves


 Tree leaves





Phosphorus %
































Babul (fresh leaf)





Babul (pods)




The most commonly used silage crops are maize, sorghum, sudan grass, bajra, and napier grass. But maize and sorghum are supposed to be the best crops for silage making. The, leguminous fodder crops like lucerne, berseem and cowpea are not suitable for silage making. For silage and hay making refer to booklet No. FCPS- 11.

Root crops and kernels

Root crops have a high moisture content (70 to 90%) and low crude fibre content (5 to 12%). Roots are generally low in crude protein content. Carrot is rich in carotene content and increases the vitamin-A value of the milk. Therefore, it is fed to the milch animals during the winter season.

Tuber crops are little different from the root crops as they contain high amount of starch. They have higher dry matter and lower crude fibre contents than the root crops and are thus suitable for feeding to pigs and poultry. Examples of tubers are sweet potato, potato and roots of tapioca.

The seed kernels of fruits such as mango and jamurn are not utilized and are allowed to go waste. These kernels contain enough nutrients for keeping the animal healthy and hence can be used for feeding the animals especially during scarcity of fodder.

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