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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
close this folderAnimal husbandry and dairying
View the documentSelection and breeding of cattle buffaloes
View the documentSelection and breeding of goats and sheep
View the documentSelection and breeding of swine
View the documentCommunity pasture management
View the documentCattle feeding
View the documentMake hay to preserve fodder
View the documentMake silage to preserve green fodder
View the documentImprove dry fodder by adding urea
View the documentUrea-molasses liquid mixture
View the documentUrea-molasses-mineral lick
View the documentClean milk production
View the documentLivestock diseases
View the documentCommon maladies in cattle
View the documentProtect your cattle from poisoning
View the documentAdaptation of livestock

Community pasture management

Inadequate feed is a major constraint to livestock productivity. Little scope remains for putting more good lands into fodder production. One solution lies in improving the sustainable production levels of community pasture lands through better management. Women are often responsible for collecting fodder and raising livestock, especially dairy cattle. Improving pastureland can reduce the amount of time women spend collecting fodder and feeding livestock.

Management practices

It is possible to increase the productivity of community pastures through one or a combination of the following practices.

Rehabilitation and management

Rehabilitate pasture land with improved grass varieties and legumes for higher yield, higher nutritive value, and palatability. Grasses can be transplanted or grown from seed. Legume seeds are sown between grass lures. Multipurpose trees can also be planted to provide fodder, fuel, and timber. (See the glossary for a list of improved grasses and legumes.)

Protect pasture from overgrazing. Consider erecting a stone wall, making a trench and mound barrier, or planting a live hedge.

Adopt proper soil and water conservation measures to improve site quality. Field lands can be ploughed and developed across the slope to retain water and prevent soil from being washed away.

Surplus fodder during monsoon can be conserved in the form of hay or silage for use during lean periods. (See Make hay to preserve fodder and Make silage to preserve green fodder.)

Encourage stall feeding-feed livestock in their sheds without letting them out for grazing.

Management of grazing land

Regulated grazing is useful in locations where the regeneration capacity of perennial grasses is fast and prolific.

- Fencing. Use live hedges, stone walls, bamboo poles, and wire fencing to help regulate the movement of livestock.

- Bush cleaning. Remove thorny and unwanted bushes to improve forage production.

- Burning. Burn during the summa to destroy weed seeds and dried and cut bushes. Burning also promotes growth of grasses.

- Herbicides. Particularly heavy weed growth can be controlled with herbicides during early monsoon. Follow safety and application instructions carefully. Herbicides can be dangerous to humans and livestock.

- Fertilizer. Application of 40-80 kg urea per ha (20-40 kg nitrogen/ha) during the monsoon can increase forage yield by 30 to 70 percent.

- Grazing. Do not graze a pasture in the first year after fencing in order to allow perennial grasses to regenerate and produce seeds. Resume grazing in the second or third year, depending on the amount of regrowth. To prevent overgrazing, graze just one or two head of cattle (or 6-10 sheep or goats) per hectare. Or practice deferred rotational grazing: shift your animals from place to place, allowing each grazing site enough time to regenerate before returning.

Deferred rotational grazing

Deferred rotational grazing

This grazing pattern uses three areas of pasture (A, B. and C in the diagram).

From July to October in the first year, graze the animals in pasture A. At the beginning of November, move them to pasture B. and graze them there until the end of February. From March to June, graze them in pasture C.

In July of the second year, instead of moving them to pasture A, put them back into pasture B. In November, move the animals to pasture C, and in March, return them to pasture A.

This deferred rotational grazing system allows each of the pastures to recover for more than a year.

Establishing improved varieties

Highly deteriorated pastures must be re-established. This involves ploughing and land-levelling, followed by sowing of improved varieties of grasses and legumes. Such pastures will give high forage yields for 5-6 years.

Soak legume seeds in 20-30 percent sulphuric acid for 4-5 minutes. Be careful not to splash acid on your hands or clothes.

Improving germination. Legume seeds have hard seed coats. To improve germination, put seeds in boiling water for 60-90 seconds or soak them in acid (20-30 percent sulphuric acid) for 4-5 minutes.

Seed treatment. Legumes are able to take nitrogen out of the air. This is done in nodules on legume roots. To increase the growth of these nitrogen-fixing nodules, after soaking and just prior to planting, mix legume seeds with rhizobium culture powder.

To help grass seeds grow, make pellets out of a mixture of 3 handfuls of clay, 1 handful of seeds, 1 handful of sand, and I handful of farmyard manure.

Sowing. Seeds can be broadcast or sown in lines. For best results, sow alternate lines of grasses and legumes. Or, try planting alternate strips, each 1-2 m wide, of grasses and legumes.

Fertilizer application. 50-60 kg nitrogen/ha and 20-30 kg phosphorus/ha can be applied to the pasture during monsoon. Applying fertilizer increases forage yield of mixed pastures by 50-100 percent. The protein content of the forage is also increased.

Management of cutting. During the year of establishment, just one harvest is advised. In subsequent years, forage can be harvested every 50 or 60 days. Cut the forage 10-15 cm above ground level.

Conservation of surplus fodder. Surplus fodder can be conserved as hay or silage. Hay is made by drying harvested fodder under the sun. Silage is made by allowing harvested and chaffed material to ferment under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen) in pits.

Grazing. Graze animals according to a schedule which regulates the number of animals and where they graze. This is done to prevent overgrazing and to make good use of pasture growth.

Establishing pasture by rooted slips

Establishing pasture by rooted slips

Some grasses do not produce seeds. For these, rooted slips must be used (sprouts which grow from roots of some grasses during the monsoon). Transplantation of nursery-raised grass seedlings can also be very effective in establishing pasture.

Contributor Dr. Punjab Singh