Cover Image
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

Cattle feeding

Questions most often asked by farm women about feeding cattle

- What proportion of straw, green fodder, and concentrates should I feed my cattle?
- What can be done when green fodder is not available in the fields?
- Can green fodder be preserved for use in the lean months?
- Is there a way to make straw more nutritious?
- Are there less expensive substitutes for concentrates?

In the following pages, you will find answers to these important questions.

Generally, cattle are fed with dry straw mixed with some green fodder. Milch animals and draught bullocks need more nutrition; therefore, give them an additional ration of concentrates.

Green fodder

Green fodder is not only nutritious but also palatable and easily digestible. It is available in the form of green forages, such as berseem, lucerne, oats, maize, sorghum, pearl millet, cluster bean, cowpeas, grasses, and lappings of trees. Leguminous fodder crops, like berseem, lucerne, cowpea, and cluster bean, are more nutritious than non-legumes, such as oats, maize, and sorghum. Therefore, for better feed, mix legume fodder with nonlegume fodders. Do not feed animals only with legumes as this can cause bloat.

Cattle should be given about 30-3 5 kg of mixed green fodder daily. This should be chopped to avoid wastage.

Dry fodder

Dry fodder is available in the form of straw and stover. Though less nutritious, these are needed to meet the bulk or dry-matter requirement of cattle. Mix green fodder together with the dry fodder. Feed 3-4 kg of dry chaffed fodder daily. (See Improve dry fodder by adding urea. )


Oil cakes, rice and wheat bran, cereal grains, seeds, molasses, etc., make good concentrate mixtures. Concentrate is economically prepared by mixing cakes, wheat or rice bran, and grains or pulses in equal proportion There is not much advantage in adding expensive items, like cotton seeds, to the mixture.

Concentrates containing proteins and minerals are the most nutritious part of cattle feeds. Concentrates are especially important for growing calves, first carvers, pregnant and milch animals, and working bullocks.

On average, 1 kg of concentrate mixture is given daily to first carvers, especially cross-bred cattle. Pregnant cows should be provided with 1 to 1.5 kg of concentrate mixture every day during the last 60 days of pregnancy.

Important tips

- Chaff the green and dry fodder to avow wastage.

- Treat dry fodder with urea to increase its nutritive value. This will help reduce the quantity of concentrate required in the feed. (See improve dry fodder by adding urea.)

- When green fodder is scarce, supplement the diet with an increased quantity of concentrate mixture.

- You can reduce expenditure on concentrate mixtures by supplementing with ureamolasses liquid mixture. See Ureamolasses liquid mixture.)

- Mineral mixture and common salt should be fed at the rate of approximately 30 9 per animal per day, if not otherwise supplemented in the feed.

- Store concentrates under dry conditions. High moisture content encourages mould growth.

- Reject all feed which has developed mould or fungus. This could lead to poisoning.

- Make sufficient clean drinking water available to your cattle. Contaminated water will result in diarrhoea and other disorders.

Mineral mixture

Mineral mixture contains major and trace minerals. Feed 30-35 g of good mineral mixture to milch cattle, 20-25 g to heifers and dry animals per day.

Common salt can be provided in the concentrate mixture at the rate of 20-25 g per day, or separately in the form of a rock-salt lick


Cattle need 30-40 litres of water daily. Clean water should be available to your cattle at all times. If this is not possible, offer water to your cattle at least three times a day. Allow them to drink as much as they want

Balanced feed Requirements for green fodder, dry fodder, concentrates, and minerals depend on:

- Size and age of the animal
- Growth stage and pregnancy status
- Climatic conditions
- Milk yield
- Nature and amount of work

Cattle feed

Balanced feed for cattle Cattle feed generally consists of the following:

- Green fodder
- Dry fodder
- Concentrate mixture
- Mineral mixture
- Water

A good feed is palatable, nutritious, balanced, easily digestible, non-toxic, and economical.

A balanced feed is one which provides different components of feed in proper proportion to meet the needs of each animal- calves, milch cattle, dry-cattle, draught cattle, etc. More feed might be required in extreme hot or cold weather. As such, a balanced feed is different for different animals under different conditions.

Economical feeding

Cattle feed should also be economical. Feeding green fodder is more economical than providing concentrate mixture. You can reduce expenditure on feed by substituting green fodder for concentrate mixture.

A cow yielding up to 8 litres of milk need not be given concentrate mixture if it is fed 40-45 kg of mixed green fodder (such as oats + berseem, cluster bean + sorghum, or cowpeas + maize), 3-4 kg of dry fodder, and mineral mixture each day.

Higher yielding animals will require additional concentrate, perhaps 1 kg of concentrate mixture a day for each additional 3 litres of cow milk or 2. 5 litres of buffalo milk.

Feeding during lean months

Provide good quality dry fodder during lean months when green fodder is not available. The amount of concentrate fed should also be increased to make up for the lack of green fodder. As such, 9 kg of wheat straw mixed with 4 kg of concentrate mixture can be given to a cow yielding 10 litres of milk during the lean months. (See Make silage to preserve green fodder and Make hay to preserve fodder.)

Do not forget to add mineral mixture and common salt to the feed in all seasons.

Contributors: Dr. Ram Chand, Ms. Parvinder Sharma, and Dr. Jagdish Singh