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close this bookBetter Farming Series 11. Cattle Breeding (FAO, 1977, 63 p.)
close this folderFeeding cattle
close this folderHow to feed cattle
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentImproving pasture
View the documentStoring grass
View the documentMineral supplements
View the documentDaily requirements of cattle in feed units and protein
View the documentWatering cattle

(introduction...)

Cattle must be given enough food, and rich food, all the year round.

· Enough food

If an animal cannot find enough food, it cannot gain weight.

All the food is needed for its maintenance (see Booklet No. 8, page 20).

· Rich food

Cattle eat grass.

They find in grass what they need to build their bodies and become strong.

But it is often necessary to give them a feed supplement (see Booklet No. 8, page 14).

Cattle that are raised for meat must grow quickly.

Then you can sell them faster and make money faster.

So give them a feed supplement.

An ox that is bred for working must be strong, have big muscles and bones. It will be strong if it is well fed.

So give it a feed supplement.

A cow that is producing calves needs good feeding. It has to feed the calf in its womb. And then it has to give the calf milk.

So give the cow a feed supplement.

· All the year round

· In the rainy season there is plenty of grass, it grows quicker. It is easy to feed cattle then.

· In the dry season it is very difficult to feed animals well. Grass becomes hard and scarce. The stems are tall, the leaves dry. Animals don't want to eat this grass. They get thin and sometimes die.

So there are months in the year when cattle are well fed.

There are other months in the year when cattle are badly fed. They get thin, lose the weight they have gained during the rainy season.

That is why you have to wait several years, often 5 or even 7 years, to get cattle for selling.

If the cattle were better fed, especially in the dry season, they would take fewer years to reach the same weight.

They could be sold when they were younger.

A modern cattle breeder who hasn't got enough food for his animals during the dry season should sell some of the animals at the end of the rainy season.

Then his animals will have enough food during the dry season, they will not get thin, they will stay in good health.

· How are cattle fed in traditional animal husbandry?

To give the animals enough food all the year round, people used to move the herd from place to place.

When there is no more water and grass in one region, the herd is taken to another region where there is still water and grass. This is called transhumance.

During the dry season, grasses are very hard and very tall. They prevent the cattle from walking and they are not good to eat. So they are burned. After the fire the grasses grow again and are better for the animals to eat.

But brush fires damage the soil (see Booklet No, 5, page 21 ) and they destroy useful plants which cannot stand burning as well as grass.

· The modem way of feeding cattle

In order to give animals enough good food all the year, farmers

· improve their pastures
· make new pastures and grow fodder crops
· store green fodder as silage and hay
· give their animals feed supplements
· give their animals enough water