|Bioconversion of Organic Residues for Rural Communities (UNU, 1979)|
|Indian experience with treated straw as feed|
Among crop scientists it is now widely recognized that the on-farm testing of new varieties and production techniques can lead to greater success in developing usable new technology and also save time. On-farm tests also have a potential demonstration value. Experience with on-farm testing of maize in Pakistan has been described by Palmer (14). The need for onfarm testing of new animal husbandry techniques is even more essential, because it is impossible to simulate village conditions in which livestock are reared on an experiment station. At the same time, it is as essential to demonstrate new techniques on a farmer's animals as it is to demonstrate new cropping practices on his fields. For these reasons, I have suggested a field testing and demonstration project for straw treatment (4).
In this project, the preferred method of straw treatment on a suitable scale (i.e., individual farm or village co-operative society) would be used to treat straw fed to village animals. The treatment and supplementation of straw will be super-imposed on the feeding and general management regime normally followed by each farmer. A standard experimental design will be used. The "herd" or statistical population from which the experimental animals will be selected will comprise all the heifers in the age group of six to nine months in a cluster of four to six villages. These animals will be divided into groups of three on the basis of age and similarity of management conditions.
Each one of these three animals will be randomly allotted to one of three dietary treatments. The results can then be analyzed statistically in the manner appropriate to a randomized block design. Because management practices will be a long-term one, about 60 animals should probably be taken at the outset in order to obtain statistically significant results. The heifers will continue on the experiment from the age of 6 months until they complete their first lactation.
For each village, or for each two villages, one man will be employed to guide farmers in the feeding of the selected animals according to the experimental plan. He will weigh feeds offered and refused on one day per month, measure the animal to estimate weight, weigh milk produced by animals when they come into lactation, and record the dates of first oestrus, service, and calving. Caustic soda, urea, minerals, and any other supplement to be used will be supplied free of cost to the participating farmers.
The three experimental diets will be:
|Existing farmer feeding practices.||Existing farmer feeding practices, except that urea is sprayed on straw and a mineral supplement is fed.||Existing farmer feeding practices, except that straw is alkali treated, urea is Sprayed on straw, and a mineral supplement is fed|
If the protein supply from grass or cultivated legume forage in some seasons is adequate, the use of urea would be discontinued at such times.
The project has been proposed as a co-operative one among institutions in several countries where straw is traditionally fed to livestock. As far as possible, these institutions would be those which have successful livestock development programmes based upon co-operative societies so that a regular supply of materials (caustic soda, urea, mineral mixture) can be guaranteed and, after the project is over, the farmer can pay for these conveniently (e.g., by adjusting their costs against income from milk sales).