The fodder crops for Profitable dairy farming are very important factor because of their regular supply or availability and effective nutritious profile is essential for the promotion and development of livestock business.
In Pakistan mainly two types of livestock production practices are prevailing rural household where animals are totally dependent on rural subsistence economy using grown fodder and crop residues. Large herds of Cows, Goats, Sheep, Ewes are also kept in rangelands. More than half of animal feed is coming from fodders and crop residues, 1/3rd from grazing of rangelands, wastelands, canal bank and road sides.Commercial dairy farming is also gaining popularity as profitable business not only in small but also in major cities of Pakistan like Lahore, Rawalpindi and Karachi.
The availability of Fodder in all the months of year is always a big task for dairy farmers. Mostly fodders are grown for three, five or six months and the periods of fodder interchange suffer the profitability of Dairy farm due to decline in milk production and cattle health. We need to focus to grow such fodders which can available all months of the year instead of short periods fodders.
It is well known that forages have an important role in ruminant nutrition in term of providing energy, protein and minerals as well as fiber for chewing and ruminant (Ahmad et al., 2000; Ranjbar, 2007). Research efforts (Benninson and Paterson, 2003 McDonald et al., 1998) have confirmed the potency of browsing plants for ruminant nutrition in the tropics. However, despite the fact that the list of such browse trees and shrubs with potential use as fodder comprises more than 300 species, research has unfortunately concentrated on a few (Anurudu et al., 2004). Moringa is also one of those Fodder Species.
Nutritional Profile of Moringa Oleifera
Moringa Oleifera is fast-growing tree is grown throughout the tropics for multi-purpose use viz. human food, livestock forage, medicine values, dye, water purification. Moringa oleifera is rich nutritious fodder crop which have excellent Source of Protein (green 16%, Dry 27%) Vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K ), Minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, potassium) Essential and Non Essential Amino Acids, Antioxidants and Phyto Compounds for Lactative Profiles. It increase Milk Production with all nutrients those required by Cows, Buffalo to increase milk production and health. It also remove toxins from body and strong immune system to prevent from infections and diseases, so that animal could be save from risk of business loss.
Importance of Moringa Fodder for Dairy Business.
Moringa leaves contain a good amount of beta-carotene, protein, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and iron. Since Moringa leaves are rich in protein, so can be used as a supplemental fodder for milch animals. Rather, its leaves contain much higher protein than conventional protein supplements like coconut meal, cotton seed cake, ground nut cake, sesame cake, sunflower cake etc. Besides these, the leaves posses antioxidant and antimicrobial properties against several fungal species such as E. Coli, S. Arous, P. Aeruginosa, and B. Cereus. Moringa can be grown as hedge, fence, and multi-cut forage, etc.
Tree fodders could be a good option to meet the fodder demand of livestock in areas having a perennial shortage of green fodder. There is a huge list of such trees and shrubs with potential use as fodder. One of such trees which gives fodder for ruminants is Moringa, popularly known as Miracle Tree.
Moringa Nutrition help to Boost Milk Production
Macronutrients like P, K, Ca, and Mg play key roles in balancing the physiological, metabolic, and biochemical processes of livestock. Cattle suffer from low blood Mg during lactation, which causes low milk yield due to deficiency of mg. Moringa leaves contain high amount of macronutrients Mg and K, and can be effectively used to fulfill the dietary and nutritional requirements of livestock animals by mixing of moringa leaves with other fodders or grasses.
Effect of Moringa Fodder on Growth & Milk Yield
Moringa fresh foliage can be included into the dietary roughage component for ruminants. It has shown positive effects on feeding behavior of goat, increased growth rate in sheep and increased milk yield in dual purpose cows. Moringa diet had the highest efficiency of protein utilization, nutrient digestibility, nitrogen utilization. It improves the milk yield of ruminants as it has a good rumen bypass protein characteristics. In fact, MLM can be used as a substitute for other oil cakes.
Fodder Production Potential
The biomass production of moringa is affected by climatic condition, spacing, cutting height, planting pattern, geometry and cutting frequencies. Highest Crop growth rate (CGR) was in narrow spacing. Highest fodder yields of moringa from plants is obtained when spaced at 30 x 40 cm. In the rainy season, harvesting the crop at an interval of 4 to 6 weeks at a height of 150 cm gives the highest yields. In the dry season 12 week harvest interval gives highest biomass yields with a cutting height of 100cm. On an average 4.2 to 8.3 t ha-1 dry matter yield can be obtained.
Potential Areas For Moringa Fodder Cultivation
Dry lands offer a good scope for development of agro forestry, social forestry, horti-silvi-pasture and other similar systems which will not only supply food, fuel to the village people and fodder to the cattle also a suitable vegetative cover for ecological maintenance. These fodder trees are gaining more attention due to low maintenance and less input requirements and their capability to provide good quality forage during the periods of food scarcity. Moringa is one of the best nutritious trees which can provide sufficient fodder for livestock during dry season. Once their roots have developed and established it is even resistant to frequent cuttings in drought situations.It is a fast growing tree with efficient capability of re-growth after pruning and capacity to produce good quality higher leaf biomass per unit area and can tolerate long dry spells up to 6 months during dry season and grow well with annual rainfall between 250‒1500 mm per year and temperature ranging from 19 to 28 ºC. It is best suitable for agroforestry system such as Home garden and multi-storied cropping system with plantation crops in dry land farming areas of southern India.
In Degraded & Desertified Lands
Land degradation and desertification are complex phenomena caused by both natural and anthropogenic factors. Silvopastoral system is the most prominent agroforestry system suitable for these degraded and desertified areas. The system is characterized by integrating trees with forage and livestock production. Moringa is the best protein rich multipurpose tree can be planted on these areas for cut and carry fodder production to meet the fodder requirements of livestock during the fodder deficit periods.
Salt Affected Soils
In arid and semi arid regions annual rainfall is not sufficient to leach down salt to the deeper layers of soil. Moringa is a drought tolerant plant that can be grown in diverse soils, except those that are waterlogged. Slightly alkaline clay and sandy loam soils are considered the best media for this species due to their good drainage. Moringa can be introduced as a fodder crop in these salt affected areas.
Low Fertility Soils
The major limiting factor of fodder production in the tropics is the deficiency of soil nutrients which affects the growth, nutrient content, and uptake of the plant, Due to low levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic carbon. Fodder production in these areas mainly dependent on application of high amount NPK based fertilizers. Moringa can be grown as a fodder crop on marginal lands with high temperatures and low water availability. It requires fertilizer application only during initial stages of growth. Moringa can be grown in versatile conditions including hot, humid, dry tropical and subtropical regions, except waterlogged soils. It can perform better under marginal conditions with ample nutritional quality.
Moringa being rich source of nutrients and metabolizable energy can be considered as alternative fodder for livestock. It can be grown in most of the tropical climatic zones and have low demand of soil nutrients and water. In dairy farming system it can sustain green fodder availability round the year without extra efforts. Its versatile nature makes it fit in various cropping systems, because it can be grown as crop or tree fences in alley cropping systems, in agroforestry systems, and even on marginal lands with high temperatures and low water availabilities where it is difficult to cultivate other agricultural crops.