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close this book Animal traction
close this folder Appendix B: Animal nutrition
View the document Energy needs: bovine animals
View the document Energy needs: equine animals
View the document Nutrient needs of draft animals: protein, minerals, vitamins
View the document Feeds and feed composition
View the document Calculating a ration
View the document Recommended rations and feeding practices

Energy needs: bovine animals

Oxen are ruminant. This means that they swallow large amounts of unchewed food as they graze and eat. Later, they regurgitate this feed in small portions (boluses) and chews it thoroughly. The micro-organisms (bacteria and protozoa) in the animal's forestomach (rumen) break down fibrous feeds (including the cellulose) and use them as a substance for growth. These micro-organisms and their products then become digestible nutrients for the animal. For this reason, ruminants can derive many nutrients from roughage whereas other animals cannot.

Deficiencies in energy, protein, phosphorous and Vitamin A are likely to occur in animals grazing forage on arid land. If the land has very poor forage, the animals may use up more energy obtaining feed than they can get from feed. This creates a net loss of energy to the animal. An energy supplement must be given daily to the animal, but protein, phosphorus and Vitamin A supplements may be effective if provided only once a week. Daily hand feeding of a supplement is the best method for updating the amount consumed.

The following energy requirements for ruminant draft animals have been established at agricultural research centers in Africa:

Bovine Animals

• The maintenance energy requirement-the amount of feed energy needed to keep a non-working animal from gaining or losing weight-is represented as "E". Tests show that a 300-kg idle bull needs the equivalent of the energy contained in 2.6 kg of dry barley grain-or 2.6 U.F.-to sustain its weight. The bull's maintenance requirement is expressed as E 3 2.6 U.F. (CEEMAT, Manuel de Culture avec Traction Animale, 1971).

• The size of the animal affects its maintenance requirement:

Daily maintenance requirements of oxen (idle).

(Taken from two tests; figures are approximate values.)

Weight of Animal Kg

Maintenance Requirement ("E") U.F.



















• The total daily energy requirement is the sum of the maintenance ration-the food energy needed to keep-a-nonworking animal from gaining or losing weight-and a quantity which can be called the work ration. CEEMAT suggests that for an oxen doing light work, the total energy required is "E" (maintenance) + 1/2 E. This can be easily expressed as T = 3/2 E. CEEMAT further suggests for oxen doing medium work T = 2 E, and for heavy work T = 5/2 E. Using this information in conjunction with tables which give the energy values of various feeds, the farmer and/or extension person can formulate or "compound" a ration of roughages and concentrates which can be expressed as a specific number of forage units. For example, if a 300-kg ox is going to be used for plowing (heavy work), it needs about 6.5 U.F. (T = 5/2 E; or T = 2.6 x 5/2 = 6.5) to maintain its weight Later in the season, when lighter weeding and cultivating operations are performed, the diet would be reduced to about 5 forage units (2.6 x 2). If the animal were used for occasional cart work, as might be the case during harvest operations, or if it were being trained, the energy requirement would range between 3 and 4 units (light work).