Amritsar, Sep.5 : Punjab agriculture department has developed a novel method to preserve green fodder by making silage and hay to feed the cattle when there is shortage of green fodder around September and October every year.
The novel technique recently formulated by the Department of Animal Husbandry, Punjab which has been successfully implemented in the border areas of Amritsar.
Due to the sowing of new crops, the scarcity of non-leguminous fodders such as maize, Jowar, Bajra and ryegrass has become real.
Traditionally, farmers when faced with the shortage of fodder dry or preserve or buy it at a higher price. As a result both cattle and farmers suffer.
Dr. Hazra Singh Cheema, the feed and fodder development expert, said: " It's natural that if animals eat less fodder, their yield of milk too would be reduced. Therefore, it would mean losses for the dairy farmer. So when green fodder is easily available in the market at a reasonable price, it is advisable to store it for later use by pickling it. One can use it when the supply of green fodder is in short supply and when it is heavily priced. As a result of this, the animals' yield is not affected and the dairy farmer also escapes losses."
Non-leguminous fodders can be used to make silage (fermented, high-moisture fodder that can be fed to ruminants or cud-chewing animals like cattle and sheep) while surplus leguminous fodders can be used for hay.
After cutting the crop at an appropriate stage, the green fodder is chaffed at two to three inches length to make silage. Then it is put into a silo pit (underground chamber for storing grain) and pressed thoroughly, either manually or with tractors.
By pressing, an anaerobic condition is created for proper fermentation. Then the pit is covered with a polythene sheet and mud for a period between 40 to 45 days. After the fermentation is complete, the fodder is ready for feeding. Good quality silage is yellowish green in colour and has a distinctive odour.
Dr. Hazra Singh Cheema, Feed and fodder development expert, said: "When we make this pickle, the cattle having an anatomy of 4-segment stomach are a greatly benefited. It is so because pickling of fodder results in a chemical process, which converts it into fodder as in the last stage of digestion process. The pH value and lactic acid content of such fodder is equivalent to semi-digested fodder making it easy for the animals to digest."
Seeing the positive results more and more farmers are lining up to understand the technicalities involved in the process. Now they preserve more than 10 acres of fodder using this technique.
Kabul Singh, a Dairy farmer, said: "This process of fodder pickle helps us a lot. We use this fodder for over five to six months. There are many benefits of such a process. We save on labor and the loss in the yield of milk is also averted."
The green fodder preservation technique is not only scientifically advantageous for the cattle but it is also economically cheaper for the farmers, especially for those dairy farmers who buy fodder at high prices during the lean periods.
It's a respite for dairy farmers to cope up with the acute shortage of green fodder. By Ravinder Singh Robin