In the past decades, farmers have shown interest in how to best improve palatability of available forage on farms.
It’s a farmer prerogative to partake in the development of palatable animal feed.
Besides, research scientists and animal nutritionists are keen in the development of cheaper animal feed sources as an alternative to cater for the growing population of domesticated animals and as a mean to make the business performance of a farm more efficient.
Ways to improve animal feed
In rearing livestock, small stock or poultry, a constant supply of feed can be a challenge. There are two aspects to take into account when planning feeding stocks and feeding regime for your animals:
- Sources of feed that will allow you to sustain your livestock
- Benchmark for ideal stocking rate and thus sustainability of the farm
First of all, we have to look at what vegetation is available within your vicinity and if can it sustain the entire flock or herd. Then, we look at ways to improve what is currently available, through a concept known as supplementation. Most farmers are quite familiar with this method, whereby a herd is provided with special treats in addition to the usually daily rations.
Despite costs associated with these additional treats, herd health gradually improves. For example, a special dietary regime like flush feeding in ewes and does prior to mating has proven to increase conception rates. Hence these acknowledgements on how to improve the effects of animal feed, represent a happy pocket on the farmer’s side. Farming is a good investment when properly managed. A seed sown today can yield ten times more tomorrow.
Some of the animal feed ingredients that are used to enhance palatability in formulating livestock feed rations
- Often referred to as a sweet cake.
- A farmer can prepare these blocks using either a cold or hot method.
- Key ingredients include: urea, molasses, coarse salt and agro-industrial by-products.
- Molasses has a sweet smell and stimulates appetite in ruminants.
Benefits associated with the use of urea molasses blocks
- Enhanced digestion
- High milk yield
- Well maintained body condition
- Easy to prepare
With bushes invading most grazing lands around the world, feed formulators have devised methods to feed ruminants with these bushes, for example Senegalia mellifera (Black thorn), Dichrostachys cinerea (Sickle bush) and Vachellia reficiens (False umbrella thorn) and Prosopis Glandulosa.
Benefits of bush-based feeds
- Easily available within our vicinity.
- Represent an ideal alternative feed source.
The use of these integrations should not become the new feed source, instead they can be fed as supplements. It is also good to note that following ration quantities and balancing nutritional values is important. Dangers associated with inappropriate mixing may result in toxicity hence, inevitable sickness on livestock.
Participation in farmers’ meetings is crucial, as tips such as urea molasses preparation are shared. Being well equipped with these tips minimizes stress especially when climatic conditions like drought or floods occur.
To sum it all up, palatable feed supplements are easily consumed by livestock and favor the success of feeding strategies. Always ensure that appropriate and well-balanced rations are incorporated in the animals’ diet at all times.
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