Feeding livestock

Livestock is the direct source of income for more than 70% rural population. This sector contributes significantly to Pakistan’s economy by having a 60.1% share in agriculture and 11.5% in the overall GDP of the country. Sheep and goats provide mutton, milk and wool as an income-generating source for small and marginal farmers round the year. The expansion of cropland has resulted in an increased production of crop residues, which in turn, can be used in livestock feed to overcome the fodder shortage. Cereal crops including wheat, rice, corn and sorghum, among different crop varieties, are most commonly used as crop residues after harvesting due to their ability to produce higher quantities of stem and leaves. Among different cereal crop residues, corn stover (CS), nowadays, has gained much importance for its utilization in livestock feed. Pakistan produces 43 MMT of crop residues annually in which the share of corn stover is about 1.5 MMT.

Corn stover, as fibrous plant parts, is left in the field after harvesting, and includes leaves, stubble, stalk and root. The corn stover, with its higher crude protein (CP) contents (6%), is considered the best suitable cereal residue for feeding to the small ruminants. There is a lack of awareness among farmers and insufficient technical knowledge regarding the composition and nutritional value of these residues. Moreover, there is limited literature available regarding the replacement of wheat straw with corn stover in the diet of small ruminants. A study was, therefore, conducted under the supervision of Dr Saeed Ahmed, associate professor, Animal Nutrition Department, UVAS, Ravi campus Pattoki to determine the effects of replacing wheat straw with CS as crop residues on growth performance, behavioural characteristics, blood metabolites and nutrient digestibility in Beetal goats. Results showed that intake and organic matter digestibility of corn stover is better than wheat straw.

Another study was also conducted to determine the effects of CS particle size (8, 16 and 24mm) on growth, behavioural characteristics, selected blood metabolites, nutrient digestibility and feed sorting behaviour. Results showed weight gain was increased, whereas feeding and rumination time and ruminal pH were decreased by feeding an 8mm particle size corn stover-based ration. Haematological indices, nutrient digestibility and feed sorting behaviour were not affected by different particle sizes of corn stover. In conclusion, the dietary inclusion of small particle size CS has resulted in higher average weight gain and reduced feeding and rumination time in bucks.

HAFIZ FAISAL MAJEED,

Lahore.

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