Improving feeding status of dairy cows in winter through crop residue enrichment

Chopping the paddy straw
Chopping the paddy straw

November 24–28, Trongsa: The shortage of feed and fodder during the lean season is a major constraint in animal production in Bhutan. Over the past years, in an effort to redress this constraint, a number of practical technologies for winter feed and fodder production as well as conservation have been released for use in the extension.

In Trongsa, dairy farming is an integral part of farming system. However, in winter due to the fact that in these areas rice straw is abundantly available from cultivating rice, farmers offer rice straw as the main roughage source to their animals and accordingly milk production is affected.

Sprinkling urea molasses solution
Sprinkling urea molasses solution

Feeding only rice straw does not provide enough nutrients to the ruminants to maintain high production levels due to low nutritive value of this highly lignified material. The high level of lignification and silicification, the slow and limited ruminal degradation of the carbohydrates and the low content of nitrogen are the main deficiencies of rice straw, affecting its value as feed for ruminants. As rice straw is poorly fermented, it has low rates of disappearance in the rumen and low rates of passage through the rumen, where in feed intake is reduced.

Keeping this concern in mind, the Dzongkhag Livestock Sector, Trongsa in collaboration with RLDC Zhemgang has organised a week long training on paddy straw enrichment in Nubi and Tangsibji geogs with technical and financial assistance from the National Centre for Animal Nutrition (NCAN), Bumthang. During training about 49 dairy farmers have practically learned on paddy straw enrichment with urea and molasses and stored 7900 kgs of enriched paddy straw in plastic bags and pit silo.

Filling paddy straw in plastic bag following mixing with urea molasses solution
Filling paddy straw in plastic bag following mixing with urea molasses solution

Treatment of paddy straw with urea and molasses has many advantages. Basically, urea being alkali agent can be absorbed into the cell wall and chemically break down the ester bonds between lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose, and physically make the structural fibres swollen. These processes enable the rumen microorganisms to attack more easily the structural carbohydrates, enhancing degradability and palatability of the rice straw. Molasses in other hand will improve energy component and palatability too.

With completion of the training, farmers are expected to apply their newly gained skill and engage in enrichment of paddy straw before feeding their dairy cows starting onset of next winter to improve nutritional status and maintain milk production.

 

By NCAN, Bumthang

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