Increased mortality of calves has been noticed during the winter months when feeding is compromised in high altitudes. Due to lack of adequate fodder during the summer, there is not enough for fodder conservation such as silo and hay-making in such regions.
Winter feeding in absence of adequate feed and fodder resources is a major constraint to optimize livestock production during lean seasons. The issue is more prevalent in high altitude areas and often leads to mortality of calves during severe weather conditions.
Fodder conservation activities such as silo and hay making in high altitude areas are not an effective solution. This is due to lack of adequate fodder resources during summer. Therefore, paddy straw feed blocks is seen as the best alternative to address the shortage of fodder resources in high altitude areas during winter.
Usually, paddy straw are bought or bartered in the valleys and transported on horsebacks to high altitude areas, but there are pertinent issues such as its bulkiness causing inconveniences for transporting to far flung areas.
Paddy straw feed blocks offer several advantages. They include reduced bulkiness for easy transportation in areas without motorable roads, requires less storage space. It also reduces the wastage of paddy straw by avoiding selective eating of softer and palatable straw parts by the animals.
Therefore keeping in mind those advantages, the National Centre for Animal Nutrition (NCAN), Bumthang, the Dzongkhag Livestock Sector of Trashigang and Regional Livestock Development Centre-Kanglung, successfully conducted a 4 days training. The participants were trained to formulate paddy straw feed blocks from 24 -27 February 2014 at RNR-Centre in Radhi geog, Trashigang. It was supported by Market Access and Growth Intensification Project (MAGIP).
A feed block machine which was also supplied by MAGIP at the cost of Nu 1.5 million was used during the hands on training program in the preparation of paddy feed blocks.
There were 65 farmers including 22 females from Radhi, Merak and Sakten geogs. The farmers learnt to formulate feed blocks using local raw materials, they were also taught reduction of crop wastage. The farmers studied feed storage and transportation as well.
The farmers reported several months after then training programme that the feed blocks greatly supplemented fodder supply during winter months and even helped maintain constant milk production.
Farmers are now considering feed block as an alternative feeding source during lean season into regular livestock feeding system on a cost sharing basis. Therefore, promoting paddy feed block as an alternative feeding for dairy cows and yaks during winter to curtail fodder shortage could be possible in high altitude areas.
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